Every year the little town of Barcelonnette in France welcomes visitors from all over the world as they stop by to ski, hike, sight-see or simply spend a relaxing weekend in the mountains. In late July the city attracts a very different kind of crowd: the streets around it get transformed into a racing paddock as drivers from all over the region prepare for the annual course de côte, or hill climb. The event started small with a couple of locals simply having fun but it quickly grew into a very popular attraction, though recently there were rumors circulating that the 30th edition that took place this year would be the last one. These rumors started partly because of the havoc wreaked by the race but rest assured, they’re not true and there will be a 2012 edition next year.
This year’s race was held on July 24th, 2011, and marked the event’s 30th anniversary. We talked to a man who has been attending it since the beginning and he mentioned that the overall atmosphere hasn’t changed much; what has changed over the years are the cars being raced. “Back in the 80s we used to watch 911s and [Alpine] Berlinettes duke it out, you don’t see that any more, the Porsches have been replaced by everyday cars. GTVs and 2002s were popular, too. Well, there were some everyday car as well: one guy used to race a purple Beetle! “
The man is right: a lot of the cars racing were indeed French econorockets but like the pictures below show there was a decent amount of variety; one of our favorite cars there was a Lancia Delta Integrale. The event also counted a lone Subaru Impreza, a mid-1990s Honda Civic hatchback, a Mitsubishi Lancer, a BMW 1-Series and Porsche Cayman Cup, just to name a few of the offbeat cars we spotted. With those aside the most popular car was the Peugeot 205 GTis.
The 1.5 kilometer (roughly a mile)-long event took place on a closed public road that goes between Le Sauze and Le Super Sauze and that has an average grade of 7%. That partly explains why the race wreaks havoc on the area: there are lots of houses on the side of the road and the people living in them don’t necessarily appreciate the commotion and the noise generated by the race.
About ninety cars divided into seven classes lined up at the starting line and went up in thirty second intervals. The day started early with trial runs and two timed runs took place in the afternoon. First place overall went to Pierre Vonic and his Martini MK62 Formula 2 car (not pictured) with a time of 58”31.
Enjoy the pictures and shoot us an email if you want more of a particular car, we’ve got several hundred of them from the race.
All pictures are © Ran When Parked 2011.