Great American Championship Motorcycle Hill Climb set for July 24-25

BILLINGS — The Great American Championship Motorcycle Hill Climb will mark its 102-year anniversary July 24-25 at the Billings Motorcycle Club.

But, the question remains if two-time and defending overall champion Austin Cardwell, a Billings native, will be able to defend his crown.

It seems Cardwell, who also was the overall titlist in 2017, is in Canada, said BMC board member Darrell Devitt. The U.S.-Canadian border is currently closed to non-essential travel.

“Right now, I am watching the Canadian border to see if Austin Cardwell can come back to defend his championship,” Devitt said. “He is up in Canada and they aren’t letting anyone across. He won’t know until July 21. All the Canadian riders, plus Austin Cardwell, are up there.”

Just two years ago, the famed Great American Championship Motorcycle Hill Climb’s 100-year anniversary was celebrated in the South Hills.

Now, despite some early worries because of the coronavirus pandemic, the club is ready to mark milestone year 102 at the spacious BMC club grounds.

“We are going to have extra sanitation stations, all of the toilets have hand sanitizers and we have some room down there (to spread out),” Devitt said.

Devitt said announcements will be made over the public address system reminding those in attendance “to be safe and respect your fellow spectators.”

As a safety precaution to aid in social distancing, riders must register online.

“We are doing strictly online registration for the riders, even for the trophy hill climb,” Devitt said. “We told the health department we would do that. We are making the extra effort to have sanitation stations and will space everything out a little more.”

The professional hill climb is set to run from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. both days. The trophy hill climb is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. July 24.

Tickets will be available at the gate and are $15 per day, or $25 for a two-day ticket. Children 10 and under are free with a paid adult. There are also camping options.

Overall, Devitt — a longtime promoter of the event who now is “an old hill climb advisor” as Cord Mitchell and Shannon Chamberlain are the promoters — is happy the Billings tradition will continue this year.

“We are excited and we are back in the groove here,” Devitt said.

And while there has been extra work in planning for the event to implement public health and safety measures, Devitt was still able to crack a good joke, while also acknowledging the dust that can be stirred up at a hill climb.

“The South Hills air is some of the best around. I don’t see it having any virus floating through it. The dust from the South Hills would knock the virus down to the ground anyways,” he said with a laugh.

NOTES: The BMC will also host the Wednesday Night Motocross on July 15 with races starting at 6 p.m. and concluding at dark. Practice will begin at 5 p.m.

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Source: Billings Gazette