With the sad passing of Brian Kenyon on Friday 8 January following a long illness, speed hillclimbing in general and Harewood Hillclimb in particular have lost a great enthusiast and wonderful character. Indeed, he was one of the few remaining links between the BARC Yorkshire Centre’s early days under the stewardship of the larger- than-life Mike Wilson, and the Harewood we know today.
A devoted practitioner of that renowned Yorkshire pastime of “I say what I like, and like what I say”, Brian was a formidable competitor at the wheel of the Austin Healey Sprite shared with wife Pat, and together they performed star roles in the organisation of events, production of the “Yorkshire Centre Times”, and formation and running of the Harewood Speed Hillclimb Drivers School.
Fiercely competitive, and a front runner in both the BARC and Harewood Hillclimb Championships, Brian was a stern critic of “the crap line”, and had a firm view on most subjects. But he was also a kindly man, and would be the first to offer help to anyone who needed it within the paddock. Later he was to turn to circuit racing, taking a win at Cadwell Park, of which he was justifiably proud.
I first met Brian, inevitably, at Harewood when in my first hillclimb season. He had just won his class and set a new record, and showed me his trophy with the words “take a good look lad, you won’t see another”, and of course he was right, at least for a year or so. But that was Brian, always right, always up for a bit of fun, never malicious, and a good friend.
There are so many amusing stories about BK. Digging a hole in his garden so inadvertently close to a public lamp post that it fell over, he having to take refuge in said hole to avoid a very sore head. Rocketing off the startline at a Cadwell sprint one misty morning, the warnings of others concerning the slippery state of the track ringing in his ears, only to land firmly in the Armco at the first bend. And ascending Harewood at some speed during a hillclimb school day in Pat’s MX5, with the intrepid Chris Seaman in the passenger seat, only to exit Farmhouse a little too enthusiastically and land well up the grass bank at the feet of an incredulous spectating Simon Clark.
Above all, Brian was a character, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. And up there in the great holding paddock in the sky, he will be looking down whilst analysing his ascent, thinking of ways to do better next time.