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Mahagastota Hill Climb on April 8

The oldest speed hill climb in South Asia – the Mahagastota Hill Climb organised by the Ceylon Motor Sports Club will be worked off for the 78th year at the Mahagastota Division of Pedro Group at Blackpool, Nanu Oya on April 8 (Sunday) commencing at 8 a.m.

Mahagastota Hill climb has a long history and perhaps could be termed as the birth place of organised motor racing in Sri Lanka or Ceylon as it was known then, as the Ceylon Motor Sports Club was formed on 4th September 1934 at the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya.

The President of the Ceylon Motor Sports Club Niroshan Pereira said that in the good old days the expatriate tea planters in the upcountry used to spend their Sundays driving their motor cars on the Estate roads in friendly competitions. The thrill of driving fast and operate same in a move organised manner which made way for them to regulate this sport which resulted in the birth of “Ceylon Motor Sports Club”. The first President elect was D.J. Maitland and the Secretary Cum treasurer was Gordon Graham.

The newly formed Motor Sports Club the first of its kind in the country barely three weeks later on September 28, 1934, organised its first meet which was the Mahagastota Hill Climb in Mahagastota Estate in Blackpool, Nuwara Eliya and Nanu Oya to be more precise. Since then Mahagastota Hill Climb has been a regular feature and was included in the programme for the Nuwara Eliya festive season. In certain years it had been held twice as it was witnessed in the year 2009 when Ceylon Motor Sports Club celebrated its 75th year.

That year a vehicle parade of the old cars which climbed the Mahagastota hill over the years was also held to add colour to the event. This event which was known as the Classic Parade included a 1930 model Austin Nipydro by K. Upali Perera, a 1951 model Peugeot by Senaka Amarasuriya, a 1957 model Vokswagen by Chamath Amarasuriya, a 1954 model Triumph TR 2 by H. Akberally, a 1956 model MG by Ranjith Jinasena, a 1967 Lotus Elan by Rohan de Silva and a 1964 Mini Minor by Niroshan Pereira amongst a long list of vehicles of the old vintage which made the glittering parade.

Those were the days in which the Austins, Triumps, Fords, morris, Scotts and Triumph and B.S.A. Bikes dominated our roads. According to Club sources, those were the days in which the clubs formed by the Europeans were exclusively for them and it was the Ceylon Motor Sports Club which welcomed Ceylonese members and allowed them to participate with the Europeans in equal terms. This was certainly a major breakthrough and the locals given their due place.

According to Niroshan Pereira a total of 102 vehicle swill vie for honours in the 17 events lined up for the day. There will be 55 cars and 47 motor cycles vying for honours. In addition to the top event of SLGT cars upto 3500 cc better known as Super Cars, there be two formula events the McLarens Formula 1300 cc and the Standard Formula 1600 cc.

The Mahagastota Hill Climb is 78 years old and there will be one racing driver who has participated in 49 years of them and it is Ananda de Alwis driving a Ford Mexico. This could be a world record.


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