THE first time Pat Goulding snaked his way up the tight track in King Edward Park he misjudged a corner, hit a curb and lost a wheel.
The year was 1968 and Mr Goulding was competing in his first Mattara Hill Climb.
On Monday, as he lined up at the starting line, he was determined his final climb would end much smoother.
After all it was no ordinary run through the picturesque park.
There was decades of history riding on it. Now 79, Mr Goulding slowly climbed the hill in his beloved Nota Sportsman on the final run before the storied race moves to Ringwood Park, near Raymond Terrace, next year.
A checkered flag fastened to his car, Mr Goulding waved to spectators lining the track and sharply beeped his horn.
His time - 53.75 seconds - was the second slowest up the course on Monday, but speed was the furthest thing from his mind.
‘‘And so ends an era,’’ Mr Goulding, of Belmont, said.
Organisers approached one of the Newcastle MG Car Club’s oldest remaining drivers because of his 34 Mattara Hill Climb events, a record for one competitor with the same car and good enough for second overall.
‘‘It does really mean quite a lot to me,’’ Mr Goulding said. ‘‘It’s quite an honour. ‘‘It’s been a good run. ‘‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m pleased how it’s all turned out.’’
Mr Goulding said he experienced a range of emotions as he took the last ride up the hill. Sadness, pride, relief, nostalgia.
But despite his seniority, he has no plans to stop driving and will take his place at Ringwood next year.
‘‘There are a few of us old blokes still competing,’’ Mr Goulding said.
‘‘The car is a ‘62 model and I’m a ‘36 model, so between us there are a fair few years there.’’
The 58th Mattara Hill Climb will be the last held in King Edward Park as Newcastle city council reconfigures the park’s roads and racing-favoured bends as it continues work on its Bather’s Way coastal walk project.
The fastest overall driver on the final day in the park was Darren Read, who zipped up the track in 35.53.