Racing Uphill For 3 Decades
Brothers Keep Competing in Mount Ascutney Hill Climb
Volunteers, including Dave and Doug Valliere, head down the Ascutney Mountain Road after installing wires for communication along the route, and numbers to identify each turn, while setting up the day before the hill climb at Mt. Ascutney State Park in Ascutney. The brothers have been a part of the event for more than three decades. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Dave Valliere checks the oil of his car before the first run of the day at Mt. Ascutney State Park last week. Valliere will check the tires and oil, and clean the windshield before each race. “There are a lot of variables on the hill that I can’t control,” Valliere said. “The ones that I can control, I check frequently.” (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Race registrar Michelle Baughman, of Moodus, Conn., places a checkered bracelet on Doug Valliere’s wrist, granting him access to Ascutney Mountain Road the day before the hill climb began. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Doug Valliere’s Sunbeam Tiger zooms past the start to begin the hill climb. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Drivers look at results from Saturday’s races during the lunch break on Sunday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
As his brother Doug Valliere drives by, Dave Valliere climbs into his Mazda Miata before heading over to the lineup for the first run of the day of a hill climb competition at Mt. Ascutney State Park last week. The brothers have been a part of the event for over 30 years. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
When it comes to racing cars up a twisty mountain road, it pays to know the course. That’s the case for brothers Doug and Dave Valliere, who have been taking part in the Mount Ascutney Hillclimb for more than three decades.
Both men belong to the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, which sponsors the four-mile race. The Vallieres arrive on Friday to help with setup and stay for the weekend competition.
Over the years, their times have improved. Somewhat.
“You get to the point where, if you have a given car and know the road, you’re bound to flatten out,” said Dave Valliere, who with his brother owns Northeast Foreign Cars in White River Junction.
Age also plays a part in speed.
“Experience can absolutely make you faster,” said Dave Valliere, 60. But sometimes youth trumps experience.
As in any sport, physical fitness, reaction time and bravery factor in, he said. And with every crash comes a greater degree of caution, which “makes you slow down.”
“If I had to race against my 25-year-old self, I’d lose,” said Doug Valliere, 57.
Still, they have no plans to stop.
“We’ve been racing all our lives,” Dave Valliere said. “We are going to keep at it for a while.”
The men travel to various hill climbs, but the Ascutney course, with its nice campground and great road, is among their favorites, Dave Valliere said.
“It’s exhilarating,” Doug Valliere said. “You get (to be with) all of your buddies and the thrill of racing the car up the hill.”
In addition to hill climbs, they use their modified cars to compete in road races throughout New England and New York.
At last weekend’s event, each took second place in his class. Dave Valliere drove a Mazda Miata, and Doug Valliere was in a Sunbeam Tiger.
Unlike race tracks, hill climb courses are narrow and winding, with no fences, guardrails, or run-offs, Dave Valliere said. “If you slip, there’s a tree or rock.”
Both men have slid off the Ascutney course, which includes about three dozen marked turns. They escaped injury but damaged their cars.
Thanks to safety precautions, very few people get hurt, Doug Valliere said.
The next Mount Ascutney hill climb is set for Sept. 13-15. The race offers several classes, including unmodified street cars.
“We try to make it so people can try it out,” Dave Valliere said.
For more information, go to www.hillclimb.org.