It must be the rarefied Rocky Mountain air that spawns such incredible Hill Climbs such as Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Land’s End Hill Climb, and now the resurrected Hot Rod Hill Climb.
“On August 16, 1953, the Strippers Hot Rod Club of Denver staged their first annual Hot Rod Hill Climb in Georgetown, Colorado. The race entries were stripped down and hopped up 1930s American cars. The 1954 Georgetown Hot Rod Hill Climb was the last of its kind—the Governor at the time outlawed racing of any type on Colorado roads.”
While the race ran for only two years, the memory of it loomed in the heart of Mike Nicholas of Nick’s Garage in Englewood, Colorado. “On September 14, 2013, Nick’s Garage revived the legendary ride with a 60th Anniversary recreation of the original Hot Rod Hill Climb. Mike and his team found the guys that were there and the cars that were there. Together with a new generation of traditional Hot Rod enthusiasts, Mike remade history. The Hot Rod World rejoiced, and the town of Georgetown, CO found itself once more primed with pre-1955 hot rods and vintage cars. Thanks to overwhelming support, admiration, and applause from the hot rod community, Nick’s Garage celebrated the second year of the 60th Anniversary Hot Rod Hill Climb on September 12-13, 2014.”
“The Hill Climb course winds up the forested Leavenworth Mountain on Guanella Pass Road, site of several abandoned mines. Beginning in town near the old fire tower, the course continues up Rose Street, flanked by quaint, period homes onto a 90-degree turn. Followed by a series of switchbacks, two short straightaways, around a sharp bend, and across the finish line, it rises almost 1,000 feet and covers 2 1/8 miles from start to finish.”
The Hot Rod Hill Climb was more than just a race up a mountain, it has become a “Mecca” for hot rodders and their enthusiasts. It was truly a cultural event featuring a mix of traditional hot rodders, rat-rodders, and vintage racers. The event also featured a pancake breakfast, live music, Valve-Cover Races, Family-Friendly Costume and Pin-Up Contest, Museum Tours in Georgetown, Georgetown Loop Rail Road Train Rides, and much more.
A couple of interesting ‘tidbits’ of information on one of the vehicles that raced the event. The blue fenderless, “T-33”, vintage race car in the next few photos is a recreation of the original. The car is owned by Mike Nicholas. Dave Scroggs, son of Don Scroggs, helped Mike restore it, along with Tom Wentworth, Phil Trill, Duane Helms, and many other “hot rodders” who lent their time and talent.
Don Scroggs and Cal Kennedy campaigned in the ’50s. The story goes that Cal bonded with fellow telephone company colleague Don Scroggs over the Chevy bowtie. Together, they went through the early 50s racing a six cylinder Chevy, including in the Hill Climb for both years. Starting as a 1936 Chevy pickup, it got a Chevy Roadster body in 1934, and a Wayne 12-port motor in 1954.
This is the original Wayne headed Chevy 6 engine that had been in Cal’s garage, all apart, since 1958. Cal reassembled it and it fired right right up. At the 2014 Hot Rod Hill Climb, Cal was the driver and his wife LuAnne riding in the passenger seat.