Need a change of pace from the usual closed-course vintage race events? Bored with the same corners on all-too-familiar tracks? Try taming Pikes Peak. Try 156 different turns! This mountain is the ultimate test of man and machine. Sunday, July 20th, 2008 marked the 86th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb which was punctuated this year by the addition of a vintage run group. It had been 11 years since vintage racers had been allowed on the mountain, and the crowds loved seeing the wide variety of cars. Six cars from Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing and 12 cars from the La Carrera Panamericana group took to the mountain in an effort to survive a grueling 12.42-mile-long course. Marques from almost all the major American and one German manufacturer were represented with Chevrolet, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth making up the grid.
The race begins at the 9,390-foot level and transitions between pavement and gravel on its way to the 14,110-foot summit.
Race day dawned bright and cloudless, meaning that what little moisture was in the gravel section of the Pikes Peak highway was now bone dry and slick. Runs up the mountain started at 9:00 a.m. with the 16 racers in the vintage group following the three vehicles of the exhibition class. When the dust had settled, number-two qualifier Doug Mockett and his co-driver Angelica Garcia, driving their ’54 Oldsmobile Super 88, had bettered Keith Davidson by 7.736 seconds to win the class. Another top qualifier, Bob Hill, suffered an unfortunate off-course excursion about 2 miles into the race and wasn’t able to finish. The tightest race was for 3rd place with just three seconds separating 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Number-four qualifier Joel Jantzen brought his ’65 Mustang coupe to the summit in 3rd position. The Jones/Coffey team qualified 5th, but suffered engine heating problems and had to drive a conservative race coming in 4th. Jess Neal driving a ’71 Barracuda qualified in 6th and, despite spinning the car in Tin Barn turn, managed to finish 5th.
For more information about the Pikes Peak Hill Climb go to www.ppihc.com. More information about Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing can be found at www.rmvr.com.