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Groups come together to feed Weatherly Hillclimb crowd

Drivers in this weekend’s Weatherly Hillclimb didn’t just need fuel for their cars.

Luckily, local organizations have offered a wide menu for many years - something that the drivers say separates the event from the other hillclimbs they visit.

“A lot of the drivers say this is their favorite hillclimb because it’s like an event,” said Gordon Wise, a longtime driver in the hillclimbs. “It has the friendliest atmosphere, it has the most technical course, and it has the best food.”

The Weatherly Hillclimb returned this weekend for the first time since the pandemic.

The turnout was as strong as ever, with over 100 drivers entered to make runs.

Someone has to feed all of those drivers and the spectators who climb up Buck Mountain Road to watch the racing.

Churches, Scout groups, the local library and high school class officers are happy to step in.

“People get to come in, experience our little hometown atmosphere, get to experience a little country living,” said Brian Cherry, who makes loaded French fries for the Friends of Tweedle Park Playground.

No other event in the town of Weatherly attracts as many people from outside of the area, and even out of state. The groups recognize it is a good fundraising opportunity.

High school students have helped fund their proms and all-night parties selling funnel cakes.

“We don’t have many major businesses in town to sponsor them, and people don’t like you knocking on doors to sell candy bars,” said Joe Cyburt, president of the Weatherly Hillclimb association. “This is the only source they have.”

The food court is located at the base of the hillclimb.

Outside of the lunch break, customers sometimes have to shout their orders over the sound of the cars launching off the line.

For a long time, they served food from underneath tents. But with grants and support from longtime sponsor Fairway Subaru, the hillclimb association recently built a roof over their heads to protect them from the weather.

When it is complete, it will also be a community center.

The organizations don’t compete, but work together to make sure that they offer a variety of food.

The menu includes pulled pork from Centenary United Methodist Church, grilled corn from a Cub Scout Pack, loaded fries from the Friends of Tweedle Park, funnel cakes from the Class of 2022, and bleenies from the Weatherly Area Community Library.

The vendors have to be as fast as the sports cars that take on the hillclimb. The midday lunch break goes by quickly.

There’s no time to leave the pit area, and not many food options within a short drive of the hillclimb.

The drivers appreciate their efforts. Chuck and Mary Anne Christ said enjoying the local food is a good way to take a moment to relax during a fast-paced day at the hillclimb.

“This town and the hillclimb do so much. How could you not want to come and patronize vendors here to try to give back for all they do,” Chuck said.

The vendors also have respect for what the drivers do.

“They’re fearless, going up the hill, on those turns. It’s fun to watch,” said Timmy Maguschak.

Brian Cherry of the Friends of Tweedle Park holds loaded baked potato French fries sold during the Weatherly Hillclimb. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Local vendors at the Weatherly Hillclimb, a tradition as old as the hillclimb itself, now have a roof over their heads thanks to the Weatherly Hillclimb Association. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Drivers Chuck and Mary Anne Christ enjoy a funnel cake between runs up the Weatherly Hillclimb. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Matt Huffman's Mazda RX-8 soars over the jump at the Weatherly Hillclimb on Sunday. Over 100 drivers participated in the first running of the event since the pandemic. For a photo gallery from the event, visit tnonline.com.