Skip to Main Content Jump to Main Content
Hero Background Dots
Giants Despair Hillclimb 2023 image
Spectator Sports
July 03, 2023
Giants Despair Hillclimb 2023

Local and National Racers Aim for Glory on Legendary 1-Mile Stretch of NEPA Road

Photo Courtesy of The Giants Despair Hillclimb Association


Thunder on the Mountain.

It’s the second weekend of July. The smoke of holiday sparklers and fireworks has long cleared the Wyoming Valley. Summer, in most towns, has begun its return to normal. Of course, there’s always an exception. In this case it’s the otherwise sleepy Borough of Laurel Run. Around this time every summer, the typically quiet borough directly southeast of Wilkes-Barre Twp. erupts into activity. Barrels and bales of hay are placed along the roadside. Safety fencing is strung up. And one mile apart checkered start and finish lines are painted on the road’s surface. It’s Hillclimb weekend, baby!

From Friday, July 7 through Sunday, July 9, this snaking stretch of steep roadway is home to the Giants Despair Hillclimb. The popular annual race pits drivers against one of Pennsylvania’s most formidable roadways in a twisting and turning, 1-mile uphill sprint for glory.


Photo Courtesy of The Giants Despair Hillclimb Association


A race with roots stretching all the way back to the turn of the 20th century.

The first Giants Despair Hillclimb took place in 1906. The event, covered by the likes of the New York Times, featured some of the world’s most renowned drivers and auto manufacturers. “Of course, it’s evolved a ton over the years,” said driver and Giants Despair Hillclimb Association Vice President, Bill Feist. “It’s gone from a dirt road and cars with wooden tires to asphalt with super cars going up in 37 seconds.” The wining time for that 1906 race, for comparison, was 2 minutes and 11.2 seconds. Feist continued. “Years back it was an accomplishment to get under the 60-second mark and now almost all the cars are completing in under 60 seconds.” The Hillclimb Association expects to see between 100 and 110 cars in this year’s event.


Photo Courtesy of The Giants Despair Hillclimb Association


The race on Giants Despair is one of six Hillclimb events organized by the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association (PHA). And, if you’re thinking it’s just a bunch of gear heads driving their cars up a hill, you’d be right. But there is quite a bit more to it. Each racer must be a member of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). And every car and driver entered into a race must adhere to strict safety equipment requirements. These aren’t your average Corollas. In fact, most, if not all racers spend the better part of the year preparing, calibrating, welding, fabricating and tweaking their vehicles for Hillclimb season.

Lucky for us, though. We get to just show up for the good stuff.


Photo Courtesy of The Giants Despair Hillclimb Association


Summertime. Fast cars. Live Music. Need we say more?

The little borough of Laurel Run has come to embrace Hillclimb weekend as a party on the mountain. And every year, it seems, the crowds have been growing. Spectators from all over the region along with their families fill up the sides of the hill with folding chairs and beer coolers.

The addition of the Giants Despair Hillclimb Musicfest, food vendors and ever-expanding spectator viewing areas over the years has turned a little race among enthusiasts into one of the bigger summer events in NEPA. And it’s not necessarily all about the cars and the fun. The Giants Despair Hillclimb also gives back. “The area businesses profit well from events like this and we also donate to the local fire department.” In fact,” Feist adds, “It turns out to be the fire department’s largest revenue builder every year.”

According to Feist, “The atmosphere is like no other track we race in our series.” In just a matter of a few years, the Hillclimb has seen a major swing in local support and interest. “The whole community gets involved and show’s support to all drivers not just our local drivers.” He adds. “It’s such a fun, laid-back weekend and it’s FREE for all to watch.”


Photo Courtesy of The Giants Despair Hillclimb Association


Catch all the high-speed action on the mountain.

Bring a few lawn chairs. Bring the kids. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the cooler. And check out the world-famous Giants Despair Hillclimb this weekend. All events are free to the public. Racing runs all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 8 & Sunday, July 9.


And don’t forget to stick around for live local music at the annual Hillclimb Musicfest on Friday, July 7 and Saturday, July 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Musicfest takes place at the corner of E. Northampton St. and Dickerson St. Laurel Run, PA. The Musicfest lineup includes:

Friday, July 7 from 6:30 p.m. — 11 p.m.

Billie Fink & The Georgetown Outlaws

Saturday, July 8 from 6 p.m. — 11 p.m.

Moons Medicine Show
Jesse and Friends
Vine Street




Featured Image (top) Courtesy of the Giants Despair Hillclimb Association