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Summit Mountain Hill Climb to be resurrected

Photo of the Summit Hill Club in 1915.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013, 7:34 p.m.

On June 20, 1913, The Automobile Club of Fayette County held the first Summit Mountain Hill Climb.

This Saturday, just five days short of the 100-year anniversary, a group of auto enthusiasts will resurrect the tradition in honor of those who climbed the mountain before them.

“In 1913, it was the infancy of cars and the infancy of racing in the United States, and the idea of the hill climb was to test out the engines in the cars. This was the breaking ground for the automobiles,” said organizer Marci Lynn McGuinness of Chalk Hill.

McGuinness, an author, has been researching the history of the racing and auto industry in Fayette County and Southwestern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. She has authored two books on the subject, “Yesteryear at the Uniontown Speedway” and “Speedway Kings of Southwestern Pennsylvania, 100 Years of Racing History.”

The hill climbs were held from 1913 to 1915. Then the state outlawed them.

“They were dangerous and clogging up the road. During the last one, 25,000 people lined that mountain to see it. It was the biggest event in Pennsylvania,” McGuinness said.

She and other organizers felt an event should be held to celebrate that history and this important anniversary.

The event will have two aspects — the hill climb and a car show.

The hill climb will begin at 11 a.m. Organizers are looking for cars from the 1930s and older to participate in this free event. Co-coordinator Skip Seaton said there are about 12 cars lined up to climb the hill, including a one-cylinder 1904 Oldsmobile, a 1915 Apperson Jack Rabbit, a 1917 Packard and a few Model As and Ts.

“It's important that the younger generation know about what went on in this area. A lot of famous race car men came to this area to climb the summit and race their cars at the 1 18 mile board track,” Seaton said.

He said the event is not a race, just a climb, and the road will be open for other cars while the event is happening.

Those interested in participating should come to the Hopwood Bowling Lanes by 10:30 a.m. or call Seaton at 724-984-6500.

At the top of the mountain, the Summit Mountain Early Iron Car Club will sponsor a vintage car show at the historic Summit Hotel in Farmington from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

President Bill Kozlovich said all cars are welcome to participate regardless of age. Entry is free, and there are no prizes being awarded. Donations are being accepted for the Wounded Warrior Patrol, which takes soldiers who have been wounded to Seven Springs Mountain Resort skiing for four days each year.

“We have helped them before, and we are hoping we can help them take more families next year,” Kozlovich said.

McGuinness will also be at the event telling the story and autographing books. She will also have many vintage photographs on display.

Refreshments will be available. Both parts of the events will take place rain or shine.

For more information, please call Kozlovich at 412-582-2926.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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