Tuesday, Dec 3 10:26am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Hayden Paddon launches new event amid slated Race to the Sky return

A new gravel hillclimb event has been launched by Kiwi rally icon Hayden Paddon ahead of a possible Race to the Sky return.


Run by the Paddon Rallysport Group, the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb in Cromwell will take place over 7-8 March 2020 with a pre-event launch on at Highlands Motorsport Park.


The event will act as a precursor to a planned return of Race to the Sky in 2021. If the famed hillclimb does return the two events will run on alternating years.


The Golden 1200 Hillclimb will take in 6 km of Nevis Road, a spectacular and remote high-country gravel route between Bannockburn and Kingston. Ben Nevis Station will feature as the service park and hillclimb start.


The Eastern Southland Car Club, Queenstown Car Club and Central Otago Car Club will help run the event. Roger Laird, from the Eastern Southland Car Club, who was Clerk of the Course for several editions of the famed Race to the Sky hillclimb in the Cardrona Valley, will take on this role for the Golden 1200 Hillclimb.



The road is described as: “twisty, but yet a fast piece of road with amazing natural spectator zones that can see up to half the stage at once.”


The event will consist of three runs each day with the fastest run from each day added together for final overall and class results.


Paddon said he’s excited to start what he hopes will become an iconic event for New Zealand motor racing alongside a proposed return of Race to the Sky.  


“I hope we can see these two fantastic Central Otago hillclimb events alternating with each other, but there’s a lot of work to do yet, as well as plenty of support for the idea of running Race to the Sky again,” he said.


“This year I started a partnership with Ben Nevis Station and their incredible accommodation facilities in the middle of the Nevis Valley, and right from the start, I have been in awe of the road and this spectacular Central Otago high country landscape.


Uploaded Image


“After some interest from the farm owners Phil and Aaron, we have gathered a lot of motivation to make this event happen.


“I believe that our team at Paddon Rallysport can create something special with this event, and the inaugural Golden 1200 Hillclimb is just the start of what will become an iconic New Zealand motorsport event.


“We hope to attract some of the top hillclimb cars from around the country but also cater the event for all cars, classes and drivers as we hope to have at least 60 entries.


“Spectator access will be free for the launch year and the spectator zones enjoy some of the most breath-taking scenery anywhere in the world.”


The Golden 1200 Hillclimb – so named for the golden tussock-covered Central Otago landscape and as a reference to the Nevis Valley’s gold mining history, and the 1200 metre elevation at the hillclimb’s finish line – will be a two-day event with three runs for all competitors both days.


The route climbs from Ben Nevis Station near the Nevis River up the road to the finish line, still on the opposite side of the hill from Bannockburn.


The fastest time from each day will count towards the competitor’s final results, the intention is to put greater emphasis on each run but also allow for any issues or car malfunctions that may hamper a competitor’s attempt at the 6km hillclimb.


All competitors gather at the top of the route when they have completed their runs, and they will all travel back to the start and service area in a controlled group at specified times in the schedule.