BILLINGS – Energy, both nervous and electric, is approaching peak level just more than a week away from one of the marquee events every summer in Billings. The Great American Championship Motorcycle Hill Climb is back.
For those who’ve never attended the Billings South Hills bash, it generally caters to about 10,000 fans.
This marks the 100th year of what has evolved into a worldly race.
“We’re not creating other events around the hill climb; it’s the hill climb,” said Billings Motorcycle Club president Cord Mitchell. “When you come here, people enjoy seeing familiar faces and names. We’ve deviated a little bit, certain classes and things, but we still try and keep it what it is. What it will be … is the oldest hill climb in the world.”
They used to run the GAC Hill Climb Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the red-hot July heat. But now it’s condensed to Friday-Saturday racing and wraps up nightly under the lights at about 11 p.m.
Darrell Devitt — now the Billings Motorcycle Club treasurer — has been a part of this GAC for a few decades.
“I’m grateful I made it this long,” laughed Devitt on site Wednesday. “The $100,000 purse, that was our dream. We were thinking there’s never been a professional hill climb that’s paid that kind of money, so the riders are excited and that’s evident by the turnout. This is the most riders we’ve ever had sign up for an event.”
Devitt expects around 450 bikes competing on the pro side.
The GAC Hill Climb starts in the Billings South Hills July 27 at 9 a.m. and continues at the same time July 28. Side-by-Side racing under the lights is scheduled both nights until 11:30 p.m.
Gate admission is $15 per day for adults or $25 for both days. Kids 10 and under will be admitted free with a paid adult. The event also offers RV and tent camping at $40 for the weekend.