14 June 2012

2012 Pikes Peak Int'l Hill Climb: Two Great Days of Practice on the Hill

We are all tired and smiling after spending the weekend practicing on Pikes Peak with a small group of racers. The cars ran the first half of the course from the pits to just short of Glenn Cove at sunrise Saturday morning and the second half from Glenn Cove to the pits on Sunday morning, with the motorcycles on the opposite sections. Ralf and Gerhard got 7 runs each day; what a great way to prepare for the big race on July 8th. The cars ran well, the drivers drove well, the weather was gorgeous and we all had a fun time.


Friday Prep: We drove the two trucks, trailers and race cars down with our crew guy, John Kollars, and stopped to get race gas at Chief Petroleum in Colorado City. We arrived in Manitou Springs at our favorite, the Silver Saddle Motel and Ralf and Gerhard were there already and we formally met Gerhard for the first time.





Gerhard and Ralf check out the Gypsy Wind.
A flurry of activity as the lady in the white SUV shouts at us above the generator noise, John offers to put air in the Subaru lady's tires, Todd explains the instruments to Gerhard and Ralf looks on, laughing.

I think it is a good story that I met Gerhard on facebook; he sent me a friend request and I checked out his page and saw that he was coming to the 2011 La Carrera in a beautifully prepared 1965 Corvette. I love Corvettes and I always make it a point to plead with LCP competitors not to race their Corvettes as they frequently end up smashed up! 

The 2011 Carrera was so busy and spread out that I didn't see Gerhard in person until the last day when he was leaving the noon service and quickly said, "Hi, I'm Kristin - we met on facebook - good luck and I will see you at the finish!" After the Carrera he sent me a great video of Rene and the Geezer's finish as they came through the arch in front of the cathedral in Zacatecas, hometown boys proud to finish 3rd in class. I returned the favor by sedning him photos of him racing through Mil Cumbres and a little bit flippantly said, "If you don't want to ship your Corvette to North America to race and you want to try running a Mustang up Pikes Peak or 200+ mph at Bonneville, give my husband at Mustangs To Go a call.....and almost immediately he did!


I believe I meet interesting, amazing folks in odd ways because my door is open to the opportunity, and I look for it, and I don't think it is random. Todd always asks couples, especially older ones, how long they’ve been together and how they met and we’ve heard some incredible stories.


I recently read an article called “50 Years, Not 15 Minutes” about treating everyone you meet as if it was the start of a 50 year friendship, not just someone whose hand you shook in passing and acted as if you would never likely see them again. I am super intrigued by people, meeting them, hearing about their passions, learning about what makes them tick, and so this article put this philosophy into words:


A big shout-out to our friend and fellow PPIHC competitor, Bob Hill, who drove all the way across Colorado Springs to loan Gerhard a Hans device – thank you, Bob!  We will see you on the mountain in July!
The legendary Bob Hill!
Todd flares the fenders by hand to make room for the bigger tires Ralf wanted.

We finished the evening with a very late team dinner at a local BBQ joint and hit the sack thankfully before 11pm.

Sassy.

If you say so....



Saturday Practice Runs: Official PPIHC Start Line to Glenn CoveWe got up at 3am to arrive at the starting line in time to begin racing as soon as there was enough light. Now that the course is 100% paved and our cars have "near-slicks" on them, we trailer them up to save the tires. We unloaded and wondered how and where Jack Rogers' rig and crew was. We knew they were hauling ass overnight from Indiana to hopefully get here in time to practice. Todd chatted with his buddy, Steve Strupp about 10pm Friday night, and Steve said they were going 90 mph across Kansas. We did some math and figured/hoped they'd arrive on the hill around 5am....and they did......in a dawn dust storm of flurry and chaos and it reminded me of some of Todd's previous hair-on-fire arrivals at La Carrera in a funny way.






Sunrise on Pikes.


Hayden Groendyke's 1949 Caddy.

My guys helping to unload Jack Rogers' Mustang.

Todd, John and I ran across the pits to help Steve and wife CJ unload the Mustang. John and Todd unlashed straps, people were shouting, zig-zagging around the truck and trailer, people's hair was on fire and it was comical. Jack was half dressed getting his two-piece racing suit on and got the brass zipper stuck so CJ and Hayden Groendyke ran over to assist. John jumped in the Mustang to unload, as it was rolling off the trailer I was peeling the Chihuahua Express stickers off the doors to make room for new numbers. CJ was behind me slapping a rough approximation of #365 on the doors in long strips of blue painting tape, I was crawling in the back of their truck looking for zip ties to install the timing transmitter, Steve was telling me where to look, Jack's zipper was still stuck, I ran to our trailer to get zip ties, the car was off the trailer but Jack's zipper was still stuck so CJ yanked on it, tooth by tooth for 10 more minutes with me pulling on the bottom and she finally got it loose, just in time for Jack to hop in the dusty Mustang and get to the starting line, whew!

Sweet numbering job!


Hayden & CJ help Jack Rogers with his zipper.

The practice runs went well for both the Phatt Man (Vintage-Modified) and Gypsy Wind (Vintage) and their drivers. It was balmy on the mountain this morning and as always, breathtaking to experience the pre-dawn and sunrise on the hill. Hayden Groendyke was there in his ’49 Caddy, several open wheel cars, a few Audis, local champion Clint Vasholtz in his winning 1996 Mustang, a crazy Renault Dacia that was so fast on takeoff it was scary, and Paul Dallenbach in his open wheel.

I had time to stir up my Pikes Peak Special egg and brisket burritos and feed my hungry crew and the Strupps who had been driving all night. I offered the last burrito the chairman of the PPIHC who was very grateful and as a thank you handed me an advance copy of the 2012 PPIHC program.


Gerhard - all smiles.

Mustangs To Go/Landon Speed Racing lineup.

Go get 'em, Ralf!
Big K's Kitchen is usually open before 6am.

Burritos!



Keeping the memories of racers Jerry Churchill, Bobby Johnson and Tom Silver alive. RIP.


"My car can kick your car's ass" - SHOW ME.
Gypsy Wind photo courtesy of Driven-Imagery - beautiful!


Gerhard reading the practice results.

The only offroad excitement of the day was Gerhard showing us a picture of the Renault Dacia a bit off the road and Paul Dallenbach, whose open wheel racer lost a wheel which subsequently flew off into the woods, but was able to get his car stopped within inches of a concrete barrier and prevent further damage. The single nut holding these special wheels on wasn’t tightened properly and once it starts to go, it’s gone. He is lucky. The car was trailered back to the start where his crew feverishly checked it out and put on a new wheel, with legend Leonard Vasholtz acting as either crew chief or lead consultant.
The Renault Dacia off road.  Photo courtesy of Gerhard Pegam.
Paul Dallenbach looks on as Leonard Vasholtz directs his crew to troubleshoot and replace the damaged wheel.

Ooops!  This thing flew off Dallenbach's car.

A newly installed one-nut wheel with baby pin.
I love this view of Pikes Peak from the dam below the starting line....every time I see it.

Back at race headquarters the team chills out in the shade while Todd works.

Hayden in his soapbox racer (1952 Crosley) which he evidently blew up on the interstate the next day.
 
Todd shaved off his beard and nwo I can't keep these two apart, I should have never introduced them.

The Swede and the Norwegian eating lefse.



Sunday Practice Runs: Glenn Cove to the Summit of Pikes Peak

We awoke even earlier this morning, 2 a.m., as we need to get most of the way up the mountain to run the last 7 miles to the top. Our dear friend, Bill Mount, was in the motel parking lot around 2:45 a.m. to help us crew today.


Gerhard, John and Bill, before 4am.  No Starbucks at 11,000 feet.

Cute little red tire warmers.


I love the MAN truck.



One of the contenders for King of the Hill.


Not your grandmama's Lexus.

Glenn Cove.



Gerhard told me this was his favorite photo of the day.

Very cool photo Gerhard took of Hayden's Caddy on top of Pikes Peak.

Add caption

Our new friend, Woody, who we met racing last weekend at the Trans-Am.

Todd, Bill and Woody.




Back to beautiful Manitou Springs and the Garden of the Gods.

I was positive Ralf has lost his mind when he said the scaling on his foot looked exactly like the Nürburgring racetrack in Germany!  hahaha!  Damn -  he is RIGHT!