|Map of the "Ghost City Hill Climb" in Jerome. Notice the corners named, "Murphy's Leap" and "Morgan's Roll."|
The town of Jerome, a copper mining town that was founded in 1876 rose to a population of 15,000 in its heyday in the late 20's then dropped to about 75 hardy souls after the mine closed in 1953. It was nothing more than a reclusive hermits hideaway and ghostown when the racers came to play.
At the May 21st event in 1961 more than 4,000 sports car fans came to watch as 96 cars twisted their way up the narrow hay lined streets to the center of town. The starting line was drawn on the pavement at the old Jerome High School the same location of the pits. After leaving the start, there was a fast climb through the residential area onto an open section with houses looming high on the hills to the right and a sheer drop-off on the left overlooking the silent diorama below on the valley floor. The circuit then made a pair of sharp turns into the main business district.
The course of one and one-eight mile, has a record to this date held by, Bob Montana in a Lotus at 51.1 seconds. The perpetual cup that was given each year was an old spittoon, dubbed the "Cuspidor Cup." Eventually Jerome residents, after witnessing several spectacular accidents with cars such as Porsche Speedsters, a Morgan and a Triumph, petitioned the State to enact stiff insurance regulations which proved too high to cover, so the "Ghost City Hill Climb" went away leaving the town today as a tourist and artist community. However, in wild places such as this, the elements that dot the hillside contrive to present themselves as they've always been.
These photos are from Mickey Pleasant, a blog follower who was fortunate enough race his "Bugeye Sprite" in the days that events like this thrived.
|Jerome as it appeared in the mid-fifties.|
|Looking from the "Bugeye," all participates received a "Parade Lap" with passengers for a look at the course. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|Pre-grid line with Mickey's Sprite, number 56, in line after a Triumph and Porsche Speedster. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|Mickey ready to unleash the Austin Healey Sprite at the starting line. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|The final corner in town before heading to the finish line. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|This was "Morgan's Roll" corner heading through town. Mickey made the front page of the local Gazette newspaper, image © Charles D. Barton.|
|Pit area where everyone could check out each others rides. Check out the '55 Chevy with number 62 taped on, also the white walls on the white Bugeye. Back then, competitors drove their cars to the event. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|Mickey preforming some final adjustments on the Austin Healey Sprite. Note, race tires were street tires. Image © Mickey Pleasant.|
|Pit area next to the Jerome High School. The High School is now used by artist as studios.|
Image © Mickey Pleasant.
|Patch from the Jerome "Ghost City Hill Climb."|
|Time to party at Spook Hall.|
|The Jerome "Ghost City Hill Climb" pit pass.|
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