It’s an event that locals look forward to all year.
The historic Empire Hill Climb, located in the quaint, otherwise quiet town of Empire, Mich., ran for just shy of two-decades before a severe crash in 1982 shut everything down. The hill was re-awakened in 2014 when local rally fans, Mike Kelty and Ian Dawkins helped bring the event back as the Empire Hill Climb Revival. This year’s race brought perfectly cool, sunny weather, and I was there with bells on.
When the Hill Climb was founded in 1964, the old-school mindset, “Run what ya brung,” was the usual way to race up the challenging, ½-mile course. The hill has seen some of the best cars from their respective time periods compete during the original timed races, including Jaguar E-Types, Austin-Healeys, AMC Gremlins, Formula Fords, Triumphs, Porches, a large compilation of Corvette clubs, and even a Ferrari or two.
This year’s stars included balls-to-the-walls driver Mikko Kataja’s and his eardrum rattling 1980 Toyota Starlet (who left his mark on the event with a new 21.222-second record time), also seen was Mead Korwin’s sling-shotting 1971 Lola Lola, Cody Loveland’s monsterous Enviate Hypercar, a brilliant blue 1987 BMW 325is driven by Patrick Waligore, and local favorite Dylan Helferich who skidded to an effortless win in the AWD class with his rough-and-rugged 2000 Subaru Impreza.
But enough talk, lets get on to the photo gallery, because that tells all!