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American Weekend - Prescott Hill Climb 2014


Maybe it’s not in the same league as Sturgis for example, but a visit to a venue like Prescott should be in everyone's bucket list. It’s always a great weekend but this year it was of greater significance to all of us in the club as its the venue for our International Rally next July.  Will it - wont it - be a great rally? The weather can make or break an event and Indian Club rallies are no exception.  Little needs to be added to the comments and recollections of the ‘Italian Job’ in July this year!

Prescott is a tried and tested venue for its primary purpose as a hill climb and the home of the Bugatti Owners Club and the weekend gave us further insight into what’s in store for the International next year. Excellent weather on arrival on the Friday afternoon, rain Saturday morning which did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm as it had cleared up by lunchtime and the camping area dried out quickly whilst the ground underfoot remained quite good over the whole of the site, followed by a beautiful autumnal Sunday.

It takes us about 3 hours to drive to Prescott, it might take less if we didn’t argue with the sat-nav.  We always aim to arrive early afternoon on the Friday and this year headed straight for Pete and Anita's Airstream to see what the "SP" was, but they weren't in! The club office was closed for lunch so we just drove around until we saw Brian's T4 with Brian and Murray chilling out in front of their tent.  We well and truly disturbed them by parking alongside, turfing the dogs out to stretch their legs and setting up camp. At first a trickle and then a flood of Indian Riders joined us in the Orchard right up until late evening.  Some of us got as close to the loos and shower block as we could, squeezing in Snowy, Nobby, Oz and Lorna but others had to go further afield.  Parking certainly is at a premium when there is a hill climb on especially when the competitors with HUGE RV's ignore requests to park trailers in the allocated field opposite and simply abandon them on the camping field. It made good exercise and passed the time though, walking around the site finding everyone, in little clusters, Keith and Tim Ball: Bill and Lorraine with their family; Paul Preston and friends; Brian and Jackie; Fred and Su; Tim and Sue in their newly acquired demountable and big Graham and friends to mention but a few, sharing a few beers and reminiscing about Italy.

Saturday morning we braved the rain and took our bikes over to the display area where Pete and Anita had their Airstream.  I didn’t actually count the bikes, 20-ish? maybe with additional ones arriving on the Sunday. For anyone with an interest in American Iron, the Prescott rally in October is a must.  Personally I had a bit of a miss-spent youth, not in snooker halls (well maybe some of the time) but with vehicles, including a '34 Airflow, V8 Pilot, Chevy Caprice, Ford F250, Plymouth Fury and so on, so the theme for me is ideal.  Looking at the Hot Rods alone could have kept me occupied for most of the weekend, however we were there to watch the sporting side of it too.  Hill climbing times might have been a bit slow in practice on Saturday morning with a wet track but the enthusiasm of the competitors was as strong as ever, the squeal of tires announcing several coming to grief trying too hard.

We met up with two of our sons and their partners and families.  Both ‘boys’ had visited the Indian Rally in Italy with us, not on Indians but Nathan on his Triumph Daytona and Leighton on his '77 BMW Boxer.  Not having been to Prescott before they made full use of the Club House and Restaurant and were suitably impressed by the full English breakfast provided, as I am sure our continental visitors will be next July.  The Wall of Death fascinated our 2yr old grandson, who apparently talked about it all the way home, and the ‘black’ Elvis entertained the queue in fine style.    

In the same area as our display of Indians was a tee-pee which I had mistakenly thought was Nobby's.  However it housed a 'face painting' artist!  Most of the Indian club members visited her over the weekend, the ladies sported arms covered in roses and other floral designs but some of the men went for the full face job.  Pete's green Frankenstein was definitely quite scarey - some might have said "an improvement" but I am not sure.....!

I always maintain there are just as many interesting vehicles in the spectators’ car park as on display and this event was no exception.  There were a number of American pick-ups several of which were finished in that "distressed" state or looking like it.  Last year I spotted a similarly finished '41 Ford CoE artic unit, and on speaking with the owner he was describing how people will pay big bucks to achieve that well preserved "rat like" original look.  A matter of taste really, each to their own, but over time vehicles acquire a patina and I'd rather let mine achieve that originally than have to pay for it - I suppose that’s quite obvious by the state of my 741!

On Saturday evening we didn't make it to Pete's video show, or even the Club House for the entertainment, we were taking full advantage of Oz's gazebo and its focal point which needed copious amounts of firewood to keep it going. I think the local farmer must have lost a good few fence posts that night but we weren't complaining, they burnt beautifully and kept us toasty warm with the aid of copious amounts of red wine.

The hill climbers started too early for my liking on Sunday morning, but after a hearty breakfast we went to the display area again to find that locals Rick and Reg had arrived with their 741's along with Martin and his Brave.  We usually meet Rick at Banbury when he is to be seen piloting his veteran machine but we missed it this year.  Another familiar face was Andy, the last time we saw him was at the Harley Sportster and Vintage rally when he arrived on his well travelled Chief.  Is anyone owning up to the Mustang on display?  I recollected this model from the dim and distant past, but wonder how anyone could commute on that, it’s an interesting bike, showing the American slant on smaller bikes and scooter design, like the Cushman and Salisbury...not to mention the Topper.

The Prescott site is about 60 acres and the track over half a mile long so there are a number of vantage points to watch the hill climbing event and I think Sunday was the icing on the cake when the Bugattis were let off their leashes.  I take my hat off to the owners who are still prepared to use their cars for the purpose for which they were designed, and not treat them solely as investments, seldom to be seen on the road.

So to sum up the entire weekend......we had a terrific time ......thanks to good weather, good camping facilities and great company and if the weekend tells us anything it’s that the venue should be well received in July '15, and if you have never been to Prescott then DON'T MISS the 2015 Indian Riders International Rally!!  See you there!

Photo Gallery


Dave Milward Dave Milward

Special Thanks to Phil Kroll for his amazing photography of the event. For more of these see

For more of his work see

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