Merrick Steps Aside

This weekends British Hillclimb Championship round at Prescott, Gloucestershire will be especially poignant for local driver Chris Merrick.

After nearly 25 years of hillclimbing, on Sunday Chris Merrick will drive a topline hillclimb car in competition for the last time. After announcing his plan to retire earlier in the season Chris will now stand aside and let co-driver Tom New have a big push to secure a top 5 finish in the BHC.

Like many people competing today, Chris began his competition career in an Escort, Chris’ was a Mk1 Mexico. After a couple of years Chris moved upto a clubmans Mallock which he ran for the rest of the 90s. Despite facing stern class competition from the likes of Richard & Alan Thompson, Peter Needham, Allan Warburton and some bloke called Groves, Chris was always at the sharp end of the field.

For 1999 Chris made the step into single-seaters and went an unusual, but ultimately successful, way of doing it. Instead of starting in smaller engined cars and building up, Merrick went for a elderly, but very forgiving Ralt RT1 with a Rover V8. Two years of success at club events and occasionally worrying the Top 12 followed.

2001 saw Merrick changing cars again as he hit the big time as he acquired Roger Moran’s 1997 BHC winning Pilbeam MP72 complete with it’s 4-litre Judd EV engine. With this car Merrick became a regular qualifier at National level but things had moved on and a carbon tub was now essential to compete at the top level.

Gurston local Karl Davidson bought Roy Lane’s Gould-Judd GR55 at the end of 2004, fitted the car with his own Judd EV engine and lined up at the start of ’05 for a full BHC campaign with Chris as his co-driver. Karl then stepped down at the end of the year so Chris bought him out, installed Lane’s original 4-litre Judd in the car and went it alone for 2006, ’07 & ’08.

This really saw the start of Chris’ climb up the order and he has become one of the very top drivers in the sport. He has finished in the championship top 5 for the past couple of years and, now sharing with Tom New, has taken joint victories (shared with Scott Moran) at both Gurston and at Shelsley.

Tom plans to carry on with the car into 2012, maybe with a co-driver or maybe on his own, and Merrick intends to go historic racing and was spotted drooling over Richard George’s Chevron B19 several times over the Gurston National weekend!

Mention must also go to Chris’ wife Val who always accompanies at events and who runs proceedings in the Team NewMerrick paddock spot. In fact the word on the street at Gurston was that Piers’ cash-savings had resulted in the McLaren pit crew being fired and replaced by Val and her bumbag!

I am sure that Chris & Val will be regular visitors to the hillclimb paddock but when they aren’t able to be there, they will be greatly missed. They are both such enthusiasts of the sport…

Comments

  1. Steve Broadhurst says:

    Chris and Val are a fantastic couple…
    Always friendly and supportive of fellow competitors…
    Chris is also a huge champion of Marshals’ causes and they will both be very genuinely missed…
    I hope whatever they choose to do brings them every happiness and that what ever crowd they are to be with will be a very lucky crowd indeed….

  2. Cathy Elliott says:

    Chris and Val are a great couple, hope they enjoy their new venture.
    Will miss Val in the pits in Jersey, they are both always welcome to come anyway :-)
    Good luck guys

  3. Eric Humphreys says:

    All the best from here in Portugal Chris and Val, I am sure your new venture will prove just as fruitful

Trackbacks

  1. [...] New/Chris Merrick/Lee Adams scrap for 5th/6th/7th (although Merrick has finished for the year, see earlier story) and the John Bradburn/Eynon Price/Richard Spedding fight for 9th/10th/11th will keep everyone on [...]

  2. [...] securing 7th place in the 2011 BHC Chris Merrick announced that he was stepping down from top flight hillclimbing and had his last event in the Gould-Judd at Prescott in [...]

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