Share Report

Related Articles

multiple cars lined up, ready to go up the hill climb at Willow Springs in Southern California.

2021 VARA Horse Thief Mile Hill Climb

VARA Hillclimb @ Horse Thief Mile

orange Datsun racing up a hill at the VARA Hillclimb in Willow Springs.

A Great Ride At Horse Thief Mile At Willow Springs

The first of four races planned for 2022 by VARA (Vintage Auto Racing Association).

By Dave Wolin

Wed, Feb 23, 2022 06:14 PM PST

VARA’s (Vintage Auto Racing Association) first pilot event hillclimb last year had over 60 cars competing in the one day event (read about that event here). The hillclimb, really one lap from a standing start around the 1 mile, 11 turn circuit of Willow Springs Raceway Horsethief Mile, proved to be challenging and exciting for all, Quite an assortment of cars turned out; half street cars and half vintage cars. The success prompted VARA to expand this into a four race series in 2022.

Shelley Hiestand’s blue Vintage Sprite, with the driver celebrating in the car.
Shelley Hiestand’s Vintage Sprite (Photo by Shelley Hiestand)

So VARA got together with insurance giant Hagerty as a sponsor to produce the series, all to be held at Horsethief Mile. The first round of 2022, blessed with great weather, had up and coming young racer Mike Schneider take fastest time of day and setting a new lap record in his Fresno Powersports sponsored Rush SR. Other winners included Morgan Higham in the electric class with a Tesla, Jim Smith in a vintage over two liter class with his 240 Z and Denie Hiestand’s Lancia in the under two liter vintage category.

white race car with Mike Schneider kneeling in front.
Mike Schneider – Rush SR – Fastest Time of Day and Lap Record Holder (Photo by Dave Wolin)

Unlike other VARA events, this was open to all cars, not just vintage, and we spotted numerous late model BMW’s including a BMW wagon that won it’s class, Camaro’s, an Alfa and some Mustangs in the mix, along with some interesting vintage cars; Shelley Hiestand’s Sprite and her husband Denie’s Lancia, Simon Proppe’ class winning Lotus Elan, Lliya Briden’s Porsche 911, Jim Smith’s Datsun 240Z and Virgil Penton’s cool 427 Cobra.

a white race car - the Rush SR - racing on the track during VARA Hillclimb 2022.
Dave Wolin in the Rush SR (photo by Kuhl Speed Photography)

VARA provided lunch, nice medallions as awards, a goody bag of K&N and Hagerty stuff, and each competitor got a surprising amount of track time. We’re all looking forward to the next hillclimb, set for April 24th. Want a step up from dodging cones in a parking lot ? Keep abreast of VARA’s plans on their website.

About The Author

Dave Wolin's profile picture

Dave Wolin

Dave Wolin has years of experience in the automotive performance industry and professional racing. As a driver and a team owner, he’s won SCCA and IMSA races and championships in events as diverse as the Baja 1000 and Pikes Peak Hillclimb. While still racing, he’s also the Executive Director of the Racing History Project. An LA-area refugee, Dave lives in a cabin in the woods outside Yosemite National Park with his wife Jane, an uncountable number of standard and exotic pets, and a garage (that dwarfs his house) full of enough racing projects to last out the century.

You Might Also Like These Articles:

porsche taycan at sunset with a camera crew

Taycan Turbo + Super Bowl = ?


Porsche Taycan Breaks Indoor Speed Record

gymkhana car barely staying on dock while racing

Launch Control: Road to Gymkhana

BMW 2 front with signature BMW grille

BMW 2 Press Launch Lunch-Shoot


MINI USA Looking for #MINILoveStories