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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Climb to the Clouds

Just when I think I've covered the oldest active racing event, I get to write about another one! Two weeks ago, I was happy to share with you guys the evolution of the Isle of Man TT. I remember making a point that the TT was first held in 1907, predating the Indy 500 which just celebrated it's 100th birthday last month. Well this week, the famous Pikes Peak Hillclimb is back for its 95th anniversary.

Yes Pikes Peak is indeed old, but those of you who are good with numbers will not that it's not any older than the TT. Besides, all the other blogs already got Pikes Peak covered. So where am I going with this? Why going to Gorham, New Hampshire, of course! After a hiatus of the organized event lasting a decade or so, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, first held in 1904, returns for Mt. Washington Auto Road’s 150th anniversary as the nation’s oldest man-made attraction.

When it comes down to it, the appeal of rallying that I feel comes from the violence and dangers of the course as well as the fearlessness and reckless abandon of the drivers. Hill climbs provide an impossible sense of speed from barreling through narrow, claustrophobia inducing tree lined roads to vertigo inducing cliff side passes. Not to mention, elevation changes (Mt. Washington's 6288 ft summit is the highest of the Northeast) cause weather conditions to change too. It isn't uncommon for a driver to start his run in heavy rain and climb up to arid and windy conditions later. One mistake, even if one is only traveling at half the speeds these drivers are reaching, spells certain death.

1956, Carroll Shelby and his Ferrari at Cragway Turn. Time: 10min 21.8sec
Early 1950s, Doug Philbrook and his Jaguar XK120

Frank Sprongl, Audi Quattro S2. Time: 6min 41.99sec

Tim Mather, 1991 Nissan Sentra. Time: 8min 30.41sec

Travis Pastrana, Subaru STI. Record: 6min 20.47sec

Enjoy the weekend, everybody!

Stay tuned. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Out of that group I still believe the Indy 500 has run the most times followed by the TT, Pikes Peak and then the Climb.