Hill Reversing Guide


As we state and recognise, motorsport can be dangerous and in our specialism it is often the case that for a car driver having made an ‘almost successful’ climb, the task of safely and confidently reversing his steed back down a slippery, uneven and twisting track when perhaps surrounded by marshals, spectators, trees and banks, can prove daunting. Whilst the car can be relatively stable under power on the ascent, it can prove wayward under the influence of gravity and any loss of control.

ACTC Committee here propose guidelines that may be offered to competitors in the form of best practice to follow, though of course they are not mandatory. It is not possible to allow for every scenario and vehicle type, but the following is the reversing process to adopt in typical trialling circumstances.

These guidelines aim to accommodate the different behaviour of ‘Older’ cars (likely to have a 4 wheel handbrake and no steering column lock) and the more ‘Modern’ ones (likely to have servo brakes and power steering for example). We can ‘Brake Down’ the principles here through the summary A.B.S. – in this case Awareness, Braking and Steering.

1. Preparation


  • ensure you have good side and rear visibility around your car from the driver’s seat
  • ensure the reversing light is powerful and aligned for any night-time action
  • brief your passenger if a novice, on procedure for hill failures and exit routes


  • give your footbrake and handbrake good firm ‘function’ tests both before and during the trial in safe places, such as at controls and waiting in queues
  • consider installing a hydraulic handbrake – more powerful and reassuring, and there’s plenty of advice out there


  • wrap a yellow tape band around the steering wheel rim at the straight ahead spot

2. Stopped on a Section


  • listen to the marshals’ instructions
  • take a good look around and behind you for any obstacles or people, check mirrors
  • keep your passenger seated in the car unless otherwise instructed

Braking (Older) :

  • apply the handbrake firmly
  • switch off the engine and engage reverse gear

Braking (Modern) :

  • apply both footbrake AND handbrake firmly
  • leave the engine running in forward gear and press the clutch pedal down


  • check your front wheels are facing ahead using the rim tape and marshal guidance

3. Reversing Down


  • have your passenger and marshals guide you
  • STOP and take a breather if it is long and twisty, recover and then continue

Braking (Older) :

  • release the handbrake and keep off the footbrake
  • use the compression of the dead engine to allow a steady descent

Braking (Modern) :

  • lightly release both brakes to let the car creep back
  • pulse the footbrake about 2 times / second to keep slip under control
  • when the car is steady, shift to use handbrake only, to regain your steering keep the clutch down, in gear, with the engine running
  • if you run wide, STOP, shunt forward and try again


  • try to keep all wheels in the ruts around bends
  • DON’T let the car sweep round sideways across a steep hill
  • keep the car pointing uphill until it’s safe to turn around

Once you are safely back down, thank any parties who may have helped you, take a breath and maybe ‘uncrick’ your neck! Above all, practice these guidelines perhaps at a single venue trial where experts can advise, take…your…time and be safe!

Adrian Tucker-Peake

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