Sound to Summit – Kash Singh Returns to Pikes Peak
For the sixth time since making his debut at Pikes Peak, Kash Singh will drive his Time Attack entry from his home town (previously Detroit, now Seattle) out to the race at Pikes Peak, and then back home. Along the way he’ll sprinkle in several side trips to interesting destinations. He’ll also sprinkle in a healthy dose of Taco Bell, which Kash has told me is replacing his usual road food, fried chicken, because as he says, “it’s a far friendlier road food.” Let’s face it – it’s tough to concentrate on the road when you’re digging through a big bucket of chicken looking for a specific piece.
That’s just Kash being Kash. He doesn’t race Pikes Peak the way most of us do. Of course he wants to go fast and do well but, at his core, Kash believes that the entire week surrounding the actual race at Pikes Peak is just a grand social gathering of like-minded lunatics.
I recently spent a fun Saturday afternoon shooting Kashs car and talking with him along with Scott Jensen, who is one of the partners from the shop that did the prep for Pikes Peak. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation.
MLAS: Why do a new car for TA2 instead of just modifying the GT500 for TA1?
Kash: After five years of running the GT500 and dealing with its overheating problems, I just didn’t want to cut up the GT500 to add the required fuel cell, etc. – We thought the overheating issue was solved, but we never got a full run because of weather. And on top of that, with the 100th anniversary we wanted to do something special.
MLAS: How did you choose the platform?
Kash: All of the Ford engineers I spoke to (Kash works for Ford Corporate) recommended the I4 turbo over the 5.0 or the Shelby GT350. The turbo has benefits at altitude. It’s a good platform – I just bought it from the dealer with only 7 miles on it and took it straight to RSS to get a cage and other TA2 required safety equipment – and an exhaust. This is as production as it’s going to get. Pulled it right out of the dealer showroom and turned it into a race car to take up Pikes Peak.
This year we partnered with Cobb Tuning – and Cobb actually was ready to provide more parts and support than we were allowed to use. Cody at Cobb decided to help us out and even wanted to send an engineer out to the race to help, but that’s not really the way we run Pikes Peak. For us, it’s got to be more fun than work. So we just put their tune in and that’s what we’ll run with.
MLAS: How did you connect with Revolution Speed Shop?
Kash: After my move out form Detroit, I was reaching out to the Northwest hill climb association to find enthusiasts in the area, and to do some networking. Jennifer Aucker sent me several suggestions for Facebook friends so I could get to know some people here. Scott Jensen found me there and approached me to work on the project. We had a successful “first date” where we interviewed each other – we both wanted to know what the other was about and we both wanted to be sure could develop a good partnership. You want to make sure you find the right person who can do right by you. In the end, Scott was actually my ride to the dealer to pick up the car.
MLAS: Scott, tell me about your first thoughts when hearing that he was going to take a brand new I4 Mustang and go run Pikes Peak.
Scott: I thought it was really cool. So many people are excited about the new platform and aside from Cobb, nobody has really embraced it yet or done anything super cool with it. Obviously Pikes Peak is something that’s exciting to be part of, but then doing it in the new Mustang platform, that’s pretty cool.
MLAS: What was your first impression of Kash – how did your first meeting go in your opinion?
Scott: Really well – first time meeting was at our new shop. Our whole team, myself, Jared and Brett were there, and it was good to not only meet him and learn about his project, but Kash wasted zero time and immediately began treating us like a Ford dealership – he lined us out and said “you guys should be doing this and this, and your business should be doing this…”
MLAS: So wait, you’re saying Kash expressed some opinions…? I find this hard to believe (laughter). For those that don’t know, Kash is rarely without a huge bag of opinions, and he most certainly likes to share. And I don’t mean this in a bad way – I joke, but it’s actually a cool thing when a guy is really good at what he does and has no problem sharing his ideas.
Kash: Well I did show up in my shirt and tie – I had just finished up calling on a couple Ford dealers – when I moved out here I went back into the field where I call on dealerships and work as a consultant to help them maximize their profitability – and whenever I see a shop with lifts and technicians, my mind just gets to work on how I can help them improve their processes. So I offered up some suggestions…
Scott: That’s what RSS is born out of. It was a desire to get away from the all the things we’d seen wrong in our previous places of employment and do things differently and be very customer-centric. We all came from the same shop previously and all left for our own reasons, but the driving force was that we saw things done the wrong way and wanted to do things differently – on a foundational level. In our short meeting with Kash it brought home some of the business aspects that we wanted to bring to the customer. It was a pretty impactful meeting where, besides being excited for the project, we really viewed it as the start of a great relationship that can help us in what we’re setting out to do and really do it on a better level.
A bit about Revolution Speed Shop (RSS)
At 39, Scott Jensen is the “old man” of the partnership group at RSS. Brett Flores is 32 and Jared Veitch is the youngest at just 23. Scott describes Jared as “an untapped fabrication talent.” According to Scott that’s all he’s been doing his whole life. He grew up around it and the minute he was taught how to use a welder he was hooked and he really has a knack for it. A true to life fabrication wiz-kid.
Brett, the RSS “middle child” worked at a huge auto restoration place and in his career he has put together over 1000 classic cars. He’s an overall specialist in restoration and he has a knack for custom wiring – A rare breed, indeed. Wiring can frighten even the most seasoned pro. With that unique skill, Brett has become the go-to for any and all weird swaps. As Scott describes: ”Even if there’s no guide book on how to do it, he can make all the things do exactly what their supposed to do.”
RSS opened their doors in November of 2015. They’re not new to the business at all, but a new shop. Day to day they are best known for modular engine swaps into classic mustangs. The new Coyote 5.0 into classic mustangs along with the latest six speed trans. They do suspension upgrades, etc., along with that they also do full scope restoration work. Thrown in the mix are the assorted LS swap projects, of course, because everyone loves an LS swap. They have both a 93 Miata, and a 79 Z car currently in LS swap process. They even have a full restoration in progress on a 1950 Austin 840 sport convertible. And since they can’t do anything completely straight, this restoration includes a 2JZ swap! Go ahead and ask me if we’ll be talking more about that later on! Ummm – yes. Yes we will.
MLAS: Tell me more about the work you’re doing on Kashs Pikes Peak car.
Scott: It’s tricky to take a car with 7 miles on it and remove the beautiful brand new leather interior, heated seats and nice door panels and then watching the look of horror on peoples faces as you’re doing it. But then you add the roll cage, harnesses and other safety equipment and people start to get it. It’s becoming a race car, and that’s always exciting. It definitely looked the part, and once the Cobb exhaust was bolted on it sounded the part. It really brought the package together and then with Kashs installation of the race car decals the other day… (smiles).
MLAS: Any predictions for the race this year?
Scott: I don’t even know! I think it’s capable of getting to the top. Knock on wood for that.
Kash: I’ve been on the summit twice out of five years, between weather and overheating. I met you (Ken) about a mile from the summit in 2011 after you popped your motor and I overheated. Then we ran into weather in 2012 and the course was shortened to half way. In 2013 I made the summit in pouring rain. In 2014 ran into overheating again – Went into limp mode, which sucked. I was only able to do 45 mph through the W’s. Then nursed it to the top and came in 8 seconds slower than my rain time. Last year, 2015, was weather shortened again!
So this year I’m just hoping for the top in my first year in the new car. We have limited testing since the build kind of came down to the wire. My “track time” will be the 20 hours in the car between Seattle and Pikes Peak. I think I’ll be limited on the hill by my lack of confidence – not really knowing the car. And this is stock suspension and only factory aero, but we’re sticking within the rules…
MLAS: What would you like to cross the finish line in? What does success look like?
Kash: 12 minutes or less. My field is very competitive and includes 2 viper ring cars, and the new Acura NSX. So that’s three fast cars that cost five times as much as mine, if not more. Then there’s the FRS and to top it off we have Jeff Denmeade in our class – and he’s an absolute machine behind the wheel. So the goal is just get to the top…stand on top of the mountain. Being the 100th anniversary, I’m very privileged to be invited to the race when a lot of people weren’t. There’s a lot of people that wanted to run the 100th anniversary that won’t be there…so yeah, I feel pretty lucky.
We’re sure you’ll do well Kash – and even if you don’t I doubt anyone will have more fun.
To learn more about Revolution Speed Shop, you can check out their website here. And if you find yourself in Auburn Washington, be sure you head over and say hello to this very cool and very talented team of automotive professionals.
*As of this writing, we can report that Kash has safely made it to Pikes Peak, and passed tech – And managed to complete the trip out with only one speeding ticket! Well done Kash!