The Giants Despair Hillclimb is a hillclimb established in 1906 in Laurel Run, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States, just southeast of its border to Wilkes-Barre Township. The contest was first run in conjunction with Wilkes-Barre's centennial celebration. It is the oldest continuing motorsport event in Pennsylvania. Race drivers from across the nation gather annually on East Northampton Street, a road that winds its way through a 1 mile (1.6 km) section of Pennsylvania's steep mountains. Rising 650 feet (200 m), the course reaches grades up to 20% and has six turns—including the 110 degree "Devil's Elbow"— on the way to the top. The original race was won in 2 minutes 11.2 seconds.
In its first years, the race was used as a proving grounds by the biggest names in the automotive industry. Louis Chevrolet raced the hill in 1909 driving for Buick. He won Event No. 2, Gasoline stock cars, selling from $851 to $1,250 in a time of 2:34.4 sec, his car being the only entry in the class. He is chiefly remembered for an accident: "A Buick with Louis Chevrolet driving, turned turtle on the course and narrowly missed a group of people. Chevrolet was not badly injured."
Bill Milliken drove the AJB/FWD Butterball Special, #111, in 1955 finishing third overall in a time of 63.771 sec.
Carroll Shelby, Roger Penske, and Oscar Koveleski are just a few of the famous drivers that set out to tackle the mile. The hill has been paved many times and the records have been shattered. The current record holder is John Burke, who ran the course in 38.024 seconds in 2014. Today, the Hillclimb is run on the second weekend of July and is organized by the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association (PHA).
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