Race to the Sky
The Silverstone Race to the Sky was an annual automobile and motorcycle hillclimb to the summit of a mountain. The race was held every year from 1998 to 2007 for two days over the Easter weekend. Major international drivers compete to see who is the fastest to ascend the hill.
The race was located at the Snow Farm ski area in the Cardrona Valley, a 45 minute drive from Queenstown, New Zealand and 20 minutes from Lake Wanaka. The hillclimb was held over a 14.5-kilometre (9.0 mi) gravel course, with an average gradient of 1:11. The 135 turn course climbs from 450 meters (1500 feet) above mean sea level to 1500 meters (5000 feet).
The qualifying session for the race was held on Saturday. The race itself was held on Sunday. The top 10 fastest qualifiers raced in the reverse order from tenth to first.
2007 was the last year of the Race to the Sky. Event organiser Grant Aitken had given up the rights to the event to the Lee family in order to run the 2007 event. The Lee family were the former owners of the access road for Snow Farm resort, the route used for the event. Aitken noted several factors which led to his decision to surrender his right to run the event. They include marginal finances, changes to the tenure of the land used for the event, his team of helpers suffering burnout after a decade running the event, and the need to renew resource consents to continue with the event in the future. Aitken also had a troubled relationship with the Lee family who still own part of the access road. There was difficulty securing Silverstone as the title sponsor of the event, as Silverstone was signed for 2007 at the eleventh hour. Although it was hoped that the event would continue, the 2008 event was cancelled when new organisers could not be found. The event's official website was expired as of 14 October 2007.
Other notable competitors
- Race To The Sky Motorsport Hill Race, Travel New Zealand, Retrieved 15 October 2007
- Silverstone Race to the Sky, Retrieved 15 October 2007
- Last hurrah for Race To The Sky?; David Thomson; 9 April 2007; RallySport Magazine, Retrieved 15 October 2007
- Haggart, Matthew (6 February 2008). "Race to Sky grounded after decade". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 3 March 2012.