I’m almost afraid of what might happen if the likes of Roy Tomkins and Bill Washburn from Dent Sport Garage were to join forces. I’m convinced that, whatever creation might result from a partnership of that much raw talent, the end result would surely be a tear in the space-time continuum.
Besides being a brilliant fabricator, Roy is also very competent driver, both in off road trucks and in his beloved 1980 Toyota Corolla. The Corolla, which sports a simple and un-extraordinary facade, is riddled with such well-engineered internals you’d swear they were destined for space, rather than the lowly confines of a twisty mountain road in Colorado. That’s right, kids, this Corolla was designed and built to propel Roy to the Summit of Pikes Peak in the Time Attack division.
I had a chance to sit down with Roy this weekend and talk to him about his preparations for this year’s race. Here are the highlights from that conversation:
ML@S: Going back to last year, tell us how you finished at Pikes peak in the Time Attack division.
Roy: Finished with a 13:04, which was quite a bit slower than it should have been. Lost the fuel pump at about Glen Cove-ish, did the whole second half of the mountain with no fuel pressure. But we still reached the summit with a respectable time.
Roy: There was a mix up and I guess, on paper the old Corolla doesn’t look so competitive…a 1.8 liter four cylinder doesn’t sound so good so, through their new screening process we were excluded.
ML@S: Since we don’t run races on paper and when they saw that you were a veteran of the race, they did call you back and invite you to the race. Tell me what you’ve done to the car to get it ready for this year’s race.
Roy: A lot of things to make it reliable. A few things we did to add power. We also changed the cam. Different fuel. Small changes. Last year the cam grind was completely wrong so we got that figured out this year.
Roy: Well, it’s a new carbon fiber hood. Last year we built a nice, light, vacuum bagged, carbon hood and it was good, and we had the Aero Catch hood latches on it, which actually turned out to be counterfeit. Those actually broke on the way to top section practice and hood flew off, going down the highway and that necessitated building a new hood. So we decided to strengthen it up a little bit and we kind of went overboard and made it silly strong in the structural parts. And sure enough, it popped right out of the mold and I was able to stand right on tip of it! So, it definitely should work.
ML@S: Big changes at the hill this year. have you had to do anything to mentally prepare for this years race?
Ray: Nah! We’ll be good to go. As long as this thing runs good, I’ll be set!
ML@S: Considering all the changes to the car, and all the new pavement on the hill, where do you think you’ll end up in the ever growing time attack field?
Roy: There’s definitely a lot of fast cars in the field now that it’s all paved. Really, with the way things are going, I really don’t see why this car, with everything else that’s out there, shouldn’t be at least top five. Last year in practice, the times that this thing was putting down were definitely on par with the fastest guys in the field.
ML@S: Any predictions for your time?
Roy: Sub 12 minutes. That’s what we’re hoping for. If everything goes good we should be into the 11 minute range particularly with the road being paved. This car doesn’t really like the dirt a whole lot. It’s definitely more of a tarmac, hill climb kind of car.
ML@S: It’s certainly a unique car. There’s not many other 80′ model Corollas around having much success in racing these days. So you pretty much have the franchise on that. Tell me why this car?
Roy: Well, this car was actually free and was destined to become a beater rally car. We did a little rally use with it early on. Then in 2006 we went and spectated Pikes Peak and I decided, I needed to put something together for it. So in 2007 we actually went and put this thing together for Pikes Peak and it was incredibly fun, so it just evolved from being a beater rally car into a full on hill climb, time attack car.
So there it is. Five minutes with Roy Tomkins.
If you don’t know Roy Tomkins and ODR Motorsport Engineering, you should take some time and get to know him. You’ll be amazed at some of the weird, wild stuff you’ll see.