Issue 10 January 2016


Sandra in typically determined mood! (Don Chambers)

Sandra in typically determined mood! (Don Chambers)

Wikipedia is pretty short of information on Llantrisant, Monmouthshire, save for a translation of its name, ‘Parish of the Three Saints’ (which is actually pretty obvious when you look more closely at the name). ‘Wiki’ also omits to mention that it’s quite a long way from Harewood, so why do Sandra Tomlin and her team make the long journey to compete in Yorkshire when there are first-class venues much closer to home? One reason is that, notwithstanding living and farming in Wales, Sandra is very proud of her Yorkshire background, having been born in Sheffield. She has traced ancestors to Dewsbury, Morley and Batley; one relative, Thomas Chapman, had his children christened in Batley All Saints Church in 1779. He is recorded as a weaver and Sandra is intrigued by the thought that more than 200 years later she keeps Derbyshire Gritstone Sheep, a breed whose fleeces he may have been familiar with!

One might also wonder how Sandra became involved in speed hillclimbing, but the fact

Phil Chapman at Oliver's Mount - guess who's 'carrying the can'! (Sandra Tomlin)

Phil Chapman at Oliver’s Mount – guess who’s ‘carrying the can’! (Sandra Tomlin)

that her father was none other than Phil Chapman, of whom she’s rightly very proud, answers that question. Phil built four hillclimb cars, the first a Mercury V8-powered Special in 1948 and his third in 1956.  With this latter car he competed at the first Harewood event in 1962. Sandra still owns Chapman Mercury 3 and her son Oliver, who shares her cars, drove the Mercury at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power and at The Chateau Impney event this July, where Phil had also competed.

Sandra herself has competed in a variety of cars, namely TVR, Reliant Scimitar, Sports 2000 Tiga and Brabham before gravitating to Mike Pilbeam’s products. The first of these was a 2.8 litre Hart-engined MP58, followed by the ex-Roger Moran MP72 fitted with a F1 Judd and then in 2008 Sandra bought a 4 litre, carbon fibre-tubbed MP97. Unfortunately Oliver wrote this car off at Wiscombe Park in 2012, but it was replaced in 2013 by the MP97 they now campaign. As Sandra’s daughter Amy shares a Force PC with her husband, it’s a truly family affair!

Sandra’s competed at most mainland courses in G.B. and is or has been Ladies’ record holder at Prescott, Shelsley Walsh, Gurston Down, Wiscombe Park and Harewood, and she’s an Association of Hillclimb and Sprint Schools (AHASS) instructor at Prescott.

And finally, the other reason why Sandra still competes at Harewood – she loves the place, especially the volunteer officials, of whom she says, ”They’re always very friendly and unfailingly helpful!.”

Giving the Pilbeam the beans out of Farmhouse (Keith Hunt)

Giving the Pilbeam the beans out of Farmhouse (Keith Hunt)

Don Chambers