Hillclimb Champion makes Cultra Podium

Further to Tony Gregory’s brilliant Cultra report that we ran yesterday, here is an additional story from the event which ties in nicely with a post of ours from a couple of weeks ago…

Jo Hodgson Lotus Elan

Jo Hodgson on a charge in the Kings Mews Elan (thanks to Tony Gregory)


Last weekend the BWRDC’s reigning hillclimb champion Jo Hodgson and husband Roger made the long trip to Ulster to for fill an invitation to compete at this years Cultra Hillclimb Event, Sat 1st June, which is held in the parkland grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, North Down, Northern Ireland. The 700 yard course is currently the world’s oldest active speed hillclimb having been first run in 1905 by the gentlemen of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

With this years main theme being “Fast Ladies” it was only fitting that Jo should compete in the Ladies Handicap in memory of Gabriel Konig, one of Irelands most successful competitors and founder member of the BWRDC. This year a record entry of 114 competitors were drawn to the event that also celebrated the Aston Martin Centenary and Porsche 911 Golden Anniversary through displays around the historic Manor and entrants in the hillclimb.

Unfortunately the road to Cultra wasn’t as smooth as the Hodgsons would have liked as Jo had a sizeable off while competing at Wiscombe Park Hillclimb in East Devon. This resulted in some hastily arranged repairs being made to the fibreglass body of their dual entered 1969 Lotus Elan, with less than 3 weeks to their big trip. The accident was quickly forgotten as first practice got underway in perfect weather conditions and times started to get posted. Jo lead the way by carrying number one and bettered her first practice run by nearly 3 seconds, but not to be outdone Roger, who was competing in the very completive class 3 found just over 4 seconds.

Before the first official runs took place young motocross star Natalie Kane joined Irish rally legend Rosemary Smith, Louise Aitken-Walker (BWRDC Vice President) and Museum representative Siobhan Stevenson in officially opening the hill before the large crowd. Again it was Jo that got the action underway and the couple’s times still continued to improve as they gained more experience of the hill. But a brief rain shower intervened and put paid to any improvement in the third timed runs. Roger posted the couples faster time of 41.30 seconds which placed him a credible 17th in class and 64th overall. Jo’s best was only 5 tenths slower at 41.80 seconds placing her 72nd overall and runner-up in the ladies handicap.

The whole ladies Handicap was covered by just 8/10ths from an 11sec spread on Scratch Times. Sheelagh Glover, Riley Special first on Handicap by 21/100ths from Jo Hodgson 15/100ths ahead of Jennifer Mullan, Mazda MX5 who beat Suzanne Woodside, Crossle 32F to final podium place by 7/100ths

She was presented her trophy by Rosemary Smith, who was introduced to rallying by Jo’s mother, who then became Rosemary’s first co-driver. After the event Jo commented “We’ve been made very welcome by the TSCC and their venue is a beautiful setting for a days motorsport, with all the facilities of a permanent track. It was lovely to meet up with Rosemary again as well as Michael Adams, the son of the gentleman my father was teamed up with when they won the Monte Carlo Rally. It was also a great honour for me to meet and have a chat with Jenny Kennedy a past Irish Hillclimb Champion.”

Rosemary Smith Jo Hodgson

Jo received her award from family friend Rosemary Smith (thanks to Tony Gregory)

Cultra Event Co-ordinator, TSCC President, William Heaney said of their visit “It was a privilege to have a British Champion compete at our regional club event, especially someone with such a significant connection to the history of successful motorsport in Northern Ireland”.

Thanks as always Tony, and well done to Jo Jo on a great result!

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