IWC Invited Me To The Arosa Hillclimb To Watch An F1 Driver Race A Gullwing Up A Mountain
Photography by Ted Gushue
Nestled in the Graubünden region of Switzerland, not far from St. Moritz, lies the small winter resort town of Arosa. It’s a quiet town, known for top-class skiing, ice hockey , and recently a proper 7km-long hillclimb up an incredibly twisty mountain access road. We’re no stranger to Swiss hillclimbs as of late, having spent our fair share of time at the Bernina Granturismo a few kilometers away at the Bernina Pass, which is to say that we’ll take any excuse we can find to listen to vintage muscle clamoring up Swiss Mountains.
We were invited to Arosa as a guest of our friends IWC, who if you’ll remember from our time with them at Goodwood’s Members’ Meeting have been putting in the time and energy with HK Engineering to properly sponsor and compete with a vintage 300SL race team with some of the best pilots in the world. At Goodwood they had Scotsman David Coulthard at the wheel, but at Arosa they trusted another ex-F1 driver, Austrian wheelman Karl Wendlinger.
Wendlinger is the definition of a cool customer, which is why when we asked him if he was a bit stressed about driving up a mountain pass in a raced-prepped 300SL, he responded simply with “No.” That would have to be the theme of the weekend considering it was pouring with rain for nearly 90 percent of the time the road was open. “Typical Swiss hillclimb weather! We are used to it,” explained seasoned rally driver and Austin Healey collector Vic Jacob. Indeed it was hairy, but to attest to Vic’s assessment only one car out of the entire field chose not to run, and understandably so: it was a bored and stroked 427 Cobra.
Switzerland has of course long since made traditional racing illegal in any of its cantons, but with the advent of Formula E and more and more enthusiast-driven events like this one, we are excited to report that racing in the tiny mountain country is on the rebound, thanks in large part to continued support from big brand sponsors like IWC and others. To this, in the customary salutation of the Graübunden region we say, “Viva!”