Getting started .... the inspiring story of Ben Adams
This is the remarkable story of Ben Adams who started spectating at Wiscombe Park over 10 years ago - he was enthralled by what he saw and decided he wanted to 'have a go'. Its a story of determination, heartbreak and winning through. We hope it will inspire others to 'have a go' at Wiscombe Park Hillclimb.
Ben - thanks for sharing it with us.
In Ben's own words -
My Wiscombe Park journey all started when I woke up early one Saturday morning in 2007 and headed in to Exeter to pay some money into my Barclays Bank account when I noticed several epic race cars parked outside and a couple of friendly gentlemen handing out leaflets for the upcoming Wiscombe Park Hillclimb event.
I’ve always been to car shows and been a massive fan of modifying my own classic VW's but never been to see a hillclimb or anything like it before…. so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I turned up at Wiscombe Park to spectate at my first event and hopefully I would see some of those incredible cars in action.
I arrived at Wiscombe Park as a spectator and I vividly remember practically sprinting towards ‘Wis Corner’ to get straight into the action - instantly being blown away by how close you could get to the track and how relaxed the atmosphere was there that day.
I couldn’t wait for the next event and to tell anyone that would listen about this wonderful little gem of race track I found that is on our doorstep which has all sorts of weird & wonderful cars being put through their paces.
I carried on going to Wiscombe every year to spectate for the next 9 years – then one meeting in late 2016 I saw Jonathan Wright & James Hudson battling it out all day in the A2 class and I thought to myself that this was the last day I would attend Wiscombe Park as a spectator and next year I would be on track in my own car!
So April 2017 exactly 10 years on after I first visited Wiscombe as excited spectator I finally was racing myself. What car? After a long debate I decided to choose a silver BMW 325TI Compact (photo) which I was offered cheap by a friend earlier that year. I thought it would be a good option as they were a solid well-built car, sound great and something a little different from the rest of the field. I made a few tweaks to suspension and put some decent tyres on it and I was good to go.
When race day come I’m not going to lie I was terribly nervous as apart from going go karting when I was about 12 or 13 a couple of times I had zero experience racing in any way shape or form but I wasn’t going to let this get in the way of me tackling my favourite race track.
I recorded a 53 second run that day and was instantly hooked to the sport and the venue, I was blown away by the support and encouragement I received and that the drivers gave each other. Today that still remains as one of the most amazing things about Wiscombe Park Hillclimb.
The following season I quickly realised that the BMW wasn’t the car for me with lots of aftermarket parts and weighing the same amount as small detached bungalow so went for a Audi A3 Quattro (photo), not only because Anthony Wright was smashing it in he's very quick version but because there are also peanuts to buy... £720.00 to be precise!
2018 was set to be an epic year and I finally felt I had a car that was more suitable to myself and the hill but my excitement quickly evaporated after having problem after problem - fitting some of the parts I had bought for Audi and being constantly messed around by the garage i had asked to carry out the work. Not only was I losing out on money I’d spent on race entry fees but I was having to sit back and watch all the fun & excitement unravel at Wiscombe Park from home.
I finally received the car back on the 2nd to last meeting of the season (5 clubs) and it lasted just one day before the clutch failed and i was forced to retire. I then had it fixed for the last MG meeting of the year but was forced to retire once again with a problem with my manifold. It was a horrific end to horrific season - but i wasn't deterred.
I decided to completely overhaul the car over the winter with a new more powerful k04 hybrid turbo powered engine from a donor golf I purchased on the cheap & S3 6 speed gearbox from James Hudson.
It was the 3rd October 2018 and it was the big day... my car was now finished and ready for collection. (Photo - ko4 hybrid engine),
I was bursting excitement to finally pick the Audi up but the gigantic smile on my face didn't last long... well about 10 minutes to be precise! After tailing a tractor for 10 mins I finally saw a nice stretch of open road I could overtake safely – time to see what the new hybrid turbo was made off and... Kaboom!!!!
Yes ....... Kaboom!!!! Oil and bits of engine everywhere ....
The new Nankang AR-1's caught grip and blew the rods straight though the side of the engine. I still remember the sound of shards of metal hitting the tarmac like it happened just a minute ago. To say I was devastated was a massive understatement.
The Audi was recovered back to the garage I had just picked it up from and my mechanic sent me pictures a few days later showing a hole the size of a watermelon where the rod smashed through the bottom of the block & taking out the oil pump just for good measure too.
I’m not going to lie this was seriously low point but I felt more determined than ever to fix up the poor old girl and make her quicker and more importantly STRONGER than ever before so i whipped out my credit card and bought all the necessary parts to fully forge a new low mileage 80k AGU engine. I also replaced all major parts like cambelt & oil pump etc, so that would stop this horrendous situation from ever happening again.
After the expensive but necessary task of forging the new lump i decided it was time to take it to the top man in the country Mr Bill Brockbank who runs Badger5 and is in my opinion the best at modifying & tuning the 1.8T engines so commonly used in racing & hillclimbing now.
Unfortunately the expense didn’t stop there as I discovered I had a big crack in my manifold, the k04 hybrid I bought was actually a cheap Chinese copy and the ecu I was currently running is very hard to tune so I had to make 1 last very big decision and that was to go for a big turbo upgrade and Emerald K6 standalone ecu.
Then there just was the 6 weeks wait to finally get behind the wheel of my hopefully fast and now fully strengthened Hillclimb car.
Bill worked his magic and tuned the new turbo he has sourced and got refurbished to a mouth-watering 408bhp and gave me the call later Friday afternoon on 26th April 2019 - so I could race the next morning at the first Woolbridge MC meeting at Wiscombe Park. I drove the car very cautiously as the power was like nothing i have ever experienced before and the track was very slippery but went into Sunday morning ready and a lot more confident to push the car & myself properly. But it wasn't meant to be and on my first launch the new turbo instantly let go with huge depressing cloud of deep white smoke bellowing from out the back of the car.
After many setbacks and issues I had with the car this topped them all - I was utterly devastated and found this pretty hard to take to be honest but the next day I called Bill and arranged to get the turbo fixed by the company who refurbished it which they done free of charge and aim to get it back before the next meeting in May. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready until the week after, but I wasn’t too annoyed as now I had a couple of months to get used to the car and get properly ready the nationals in July. The car performed incredibly and I beat my PB's both days and ended up in a respectable 5th in class which wasn’t bad considering i was up against the likes of the SuperBusa etc.
The 5 clubs could not come around quick enough and I was for the first time since starting racing at Wiscombe very confident I could make a bit of a charge towards the top end of the A3 class and possibly compete for a trophy.
I studied my previous footage from the Nationals constantly leading up to the weekend and made a few adjustments to my racing line & got a little braver over bunny's leap and found myself leading the class by 2000th of second going into my 4th and final run with the legendary and very experienced Rodney Eyles breathing down my neck. I managed to hit another PB with 44.28 which i was over the moon with but didn’t want to get too carried away as I knew Rodney who now holds the class record was getting ready at the bottom of the hill.
I waited with my girlfriend & family nervously at Martini corner for Rodney to come flying round the corner, He finally got to the top of the hill with a 44.40 giving me the class win by 1200th second. The win had barely settled in before it was time to race again.
The Sunday was a equally nail biting battle with Rodney & myself going back and forth - beating each other’s times all day until the last run where I made my PB again with a 44.01 and he unfortunately made a mistake selecting the wrong gear on the last straight to give the win on the Sunday also.
This was the icing on the cake but what made it extra special was that one of the main guys that inspired me to start and has helped me all way through my journey also won both days and best his PB both day - Mr Jonathan Wright (photo above ).
Taking my first class win and in that fashion was a truly incredible & emotional feeling for me and something that I will cherish & remember forever, winning at Wiscombe Park became an obsession and something that I just had to do for whatever reason I’m not entirely sure -
but what I do know is that Wiscombe Park is one very, very special place where dreams can come true...
Getting started .... on 2 and 3 wheels
Got a bike? Like what you see? Want to have a go?
The National Hill Climb Association offers a unique package for any motorcyclist interested in 'Giving it a go' at Wiscombe. This package includes a day licence from the ACU, Day membership of the NHCA and your event entry fee - Bargain!
Full details of this introductory offer along with lots of other useful information can be found on their website -
Details of their special 'Give it a Go' package can be found here -
Getting started .... on 4 wheels
Got a car? Interested? Like what you see? Want to have a go?
If you fancy some motorsport and want to start on a small budget, then hill climbing is a great option. If you are not already a spectator, do come along and get a feel for the sport – access to the paddock is included in the admission price and the drivers are only too keen to talk about their passion.
Download our 2020 PDF version of 'Getting started at Wiscombe Park'.
Click on the PDF icon to download