Rowan Returns

One of the legends of British Hillclimbing will return to the cockpit of a competition car at a speed event this weekend.

Ray Rowan Roman IV

Ray Rowan in the original Roman chassis at Shelsley Walsh in 2007


After challenging at the top end of the sport for a couple of years, in 1989 Walsall-based engineer Ray Rowan secured the British Hillclimb Championship with his self-built, 4-cylinder Hart powered Roman IV.

The car was based on a Toleman Formula 2 chassis from the mid-eighties, which was heavily modified by Ray and became a masterpiece of minimal engineering.

Ray used the car from 1988 until 1991 with methanol and nitro-burning Hart power, he then sold the car to the late Mark Colton who ran the car in 1992 with a Hart engine before installing a Judd CV F1 V8 engine for 1993 & 1994. While this was going on Ray had built up a second Roman chassis with his own Judd CV installed.

Ray Rowan Roman IV

Ray Rowan hustles the Roman up Fintray Hillclimb in 1991 (thanks to Steve Wilkinson)


The Roman VJ as it was called ran at a couple of events in 1994 before having a Cosworth DFL (the very same engine that Bob Penrose now uses in his OMS) installed and moving on to 6 time BHC winner Tony Marsh.

Rowan retired from full-time hillclimbing and moved on to supporting his nephew Martin O’Connell in the British F3 Championship with his Rowan Racing team.

During 2013 Rowan has been a regular visitor to the BHC paddock once again, as he has been helping Will Hall with the set-up of his Force WH. In order to get a better idea of what the car is doing, Rowan and Hall will both be driving the V6 car at Curborough Sprint this weekend.


It will be fascinating to see how Ray gets on with the car, and given the rumours that he set low-28s runs at the venue in testing recently it is likely that he will be bang on the pace from the get-go.

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