Friday, May 15, 2009
The Sky Is The Limit
Or should I say the clouds which is where Lucky and I are heading; more specifically I have made up my mind to run in this years 87th running of the fabled Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Since I grew up over the years visiting family near Pikes peak and having spent a lot of time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs which sits at the base of Pikes Peak I have gazed at it numerous times dreaming of racing up that mountain.
Anyone that knows anything about racing knows that PPIHC is America’s second-oldest motor sports race behind the Indianapolis 500 and was first held on August 10, 11, and 12, 1916 and many of us grew up watching it on TV and has been won by such famous drivers as Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Bobby Unser was won this year by former NASCAR driver, Wally Dallenbach, son of the legendary Indy 500 racer.
Through the years not much has changed as the road has been widened and some sections have been paved. Other than that, the course and race format have not changed significantly from the original as drivers and cars came from all over the world to compete in one of the most grueling courses known to the world of racing. Consisting of 12.42 miles of dirt and some paved road, the route feet above sea level) to the peak’s 14,110 foot summit.
Last year saw the return of vintage race cars greatly due to the popularity and success of cars which had competed in La Carrera Panamericana and quickly became a crowd favorite. Anyone who has raced cars at one time or another has dreamt of making the assault on Pikes Peak myself included. Now that dream is to become a reality and I cant begin to tell you how exciting the thought of this all is.
Speaking of Shelby and Pikes Peak here is some ironic trivia for you... Right after Carroll Shelby had won Lemans the first place he went was to Pikes peak because he was the Goodyear race tire distributor. It was at that very event that Carroll ran into Ford's, Dave Evans, and he said "Mr. Evans, I understand you have a new small-block V-8, and I have an idea how to use that engine.'"
Evans invited Shelby to Detroit, though Shelby wanted to make sure he could get his arms around the AC Ace chassis and body before he met with Ford. "I flew to Europe, and sat down the Hurlocks (owners of AC) and told them what I had in mind, and they said yes, they would be interested." Shelby then went to Detroit, where he met with Evans, Don Frey (assistant general manager of the Ford Division), and already prominent Ford exec Lee Iacocca.
"I told him that I had a chassis, and that, if I could get these Ford engines, I thought I could build a car that would blow off the Corvette. I needed to borrow $25,000 to build two cars, plus engines. Iacocca agreed."
Needless to say the rest is history and here I am 45 years later preparing to take a car up Pikes peak that came to be a reality due to Carroll Shelby meeting a man on the mountain there. Makes me wonder who I might meet while I'm there.
One such car that made the journey up the mountain was also a 65 Shelby GT350R just like Lucky. As a matter of fact it's roots are from right here in the bay area which is where Lucky hails from. It was sponsored by Bay Area Auto Sales in Fremont, California and won the Cal Club SCCA Regional Championship in B/Production in 1969. Recently it was sold at auction for a price of $990,000.
Here it sits after having run Pikes Peak in 1966.
This coming week will find Lucky backing out of the trailer and into the shop for preparation to run Pikes Peak International Hill climb. (Boy does that have a nice sound to it.) Like any other race, I will begin by making sure everything mechanical is up to the challenge then I will begin researching tires, air fuel ratios, gears and so on. Hotel reservations are already made, map in hand and the race is less than 2 months away.
In the meantime enjoy a couple PPIHC videos.