Most people driving up the Mt. Washington Auto Road get a tight sphincter and sweaty palms just driving at a pace that would make a snail lift and eye brow with skepticism. With the 150+ turns to a summit of 6288 ft. and roads barely wide enough for two shopping carts to be side by side, let alone two cars, you might be wondering what are they thinking? Oh, and guard rails are about as foreign to this road as a vegan at a hotdog eating contest, they’re just not there.
Now what may you ask, would possess a person to take a car, strip it down, rebuild it in the form of a dedicated race car and drives as fast as humanly possible up this mountain? Which would possibly end in a mass of metal careening off the side, burning up as it re-enters the atmosphere before making a smoldering crater at the bottom of the valley. Like some stray asteroid unlucky enough to get caught in the gravitational pull of our little planet. I mean, thats the most plausible scenario.
Well, maybe not that, this isn’t exactly Mt. Everest, but you get the idea. I don’t think the people that choose to do this willingly have all their synapses firing here. Maybe a couple crossed wires, but thats ok. I too fall into this category. I would race a car up this mountain, given the chance, but I don’t think I would be anywhere near as fast as this years overall victor and record holder David Higgins with a new record of 6:09:09. Abolishing his previous record by more than 3 seconds. He beat his previous record by ONLY 3 seconds you say? It may not sound like much but it is a huge accomplishment considering back in 2011, Higgins ran in the Hillclimb’s Open Class, had about 100 HP more and weighed in at 500 lbs less. This year the event was a combined Hillclimb and Rally America event, with Higgins running as a rally car which has very specific requirements versus the Open Class. All these cars though, were giving it their all. Fast and loose. The helicopter was a nice touch too.
I don’t know which planets and stars aligned or what sacrifices were made to the race gods, but we had three stellar days of sunny weather and light winds. Anyone familiar with Mt. Washington knows that is just plan unheard of. Sunny, rainy, hail, hurricane force winds, thunder, lightning and back to sunny is more this Mountain’s status quo. It made for some stunning backdrops and gave you a real appreciation for just how beautiful the Presidential Range is. Plus this allowed all teams to practice on both the lower and upper half of the mountain. Something that was unavailable the last time the Climb to the Clouds was held.
Now for the overall victory, two out of the three podium finishes were by rally cars with full manufacturer sponsorship. David Higgins with co-driver Craig Drew took first place, Second goes to Travis Pastrana with co-driver Chrissie Beavis and third place went to Paul Tingaud with his “Super Chicken” in the Open Class. This is pretty impressive given the fact that Paul is a privateer with no manufacturer sponsorship, with a purpose built tubular frame chassis with the same running gear you would find in a B5 Audi S4. Oh, and did I mention he built it himself? Ya, pretty impressive.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Ernie Mills and Dan Houde for making this event fun and helping me get to the good spots for my life @ SPEED. This event went off without a hitch and ran like a Swiss watch. Thank you to all the volunteers, Mt. Washington staff members, media, race teams, event sponsors and Subaru of America for making this happen. Please keep the tradition alive.
So in conclusion, the 110th running of the Climb to the Clouds Hillclimb was amazing. No one got seriously hurt, no cars caught on fire or flew far from the edge. All in all, a good few days of racing. I encourage anyone in the Northeast region of the US to visit or participate in this historic event in the future. Cars range from a 1935 open wheel Ford to the latest and greatest. For those of you unable to make it this year, you are in luck, as NBC Sports will be airing this year’s Hillclimb on August 2nd, 12:30pm EDT. Be sure to set your DVR’s. You can also find a variety of photos from the HillClimb below.
Time to find a car to field in this event for next year.
For full race results for all classes, please follow the link: http://climbtotheclouds.com/general-info/results/.
Editor’s Note July 24, 2014:
Alexander Grabau’s name was listed in the reverse and that’s the way we published it. Our apologies to Alex for the faux pas. – Marsha S. Haneiph