Having been a veteran Pikes Peak Hill Climb fan for 20+ years I knew I loved racing and shooting! I just didn’t know that there were more hill climbs to love pretty close to where I live. Last year, Dave Wood suggested I shoot at the Lands End Hill Climb. I thought to myself, what is that? I thought maybe he joined Steven Bennett off the deep end, right near where you fall off the end of the flat earth.
It turned out that there was another little world of racing that is run by the CHCA (Colorado Hill Climb Association). Sadly, with my schedule last year, I was unable to attend. This year, I finally made it to 3 of the CHCA events and loved every one of them…. Well, except the 101 degree heat and powdered dust at Pueblo Motorsports Park that took 3 hours with my power washer to get out of and off my car. I’ll get to that story another time.
We left for Grand Junction at 1 a.m. not knowing where the road was, where to sit and shoot from, or really anything about the race except for “Bob’s Knob”. Ha ha! That one really threw us for a loop. I know, endless jokes for sure. After a wonderful and uneventful ride through the mountains, we arrived on the road where the assault ends and the dirt begins. I have to admit, my foot got a little heavier at that point. Looking at the GPS, knowing that a hairpin was coming up was exciting for me, but not so much for the passengers in the car. 😉
After a few miles of corners and dirt, and dirt and corners, we got to the staging area and starting line. It was good to see so many friends, familiar faces and cars. One thing I realized is that I don’t recognize most of the drivers out of a helmet or a car. It is kind of embarrassing to me because I probably come across as a boor when I walk right by them, after talking to them via email or Facebook for years. I am sure I seem more friendly while on the mountain, as they all come down and wave at us as we shoot them. After sorting out “who was who” and said hi to a few of the competitors, and headed up the road in total darkness. What a fun ride to scope out the road with a flashlight to find a safe place to shoot! After finding a few spots, we went back down to the pits to find a few more friends to deliver some Joelsa (Joel Salsa) and attend the drivers meeting. Several drivers confirmed that Bob’s Knob was the place to be, so we headed up and settled in. Chairs, fish crackers, coffee and cameras. We were set.
After about an hour of waiting, we heard the distant sound of cars echoing through the mountains, here they come! The green flag had dropped for the practice session. Our first Land’s End experience was just about to begin. Quick course, all dirt, old school real Hill Climb racing!! It was happening so fast and I was so excited about being a first timer, that the first few up the course are almost a blur.
I do remember seeing Lorie Brady finally flying through the corner, spitting rocks all over. Finally, after a year of well, not the best of luck, she was hauling tail to the finish line! It was great to see one of my friends (and one that I can recognize in a crowd) doing well at Land’s End.
After a few hours of smelling face fuel and having dirt sandwiches, we saw #90 driven by Jeff Johnson go by for the last time because 2 turns after the “knob”, Jeff went off the edge and destroyed the red white and blue car. Luckily he was fine and will be able to race another day. I was not expecting to see Josh McGuckin, my photographer buddy and My Life At Speed contributor up there; but there he was, just not behind the camera. He was the navigator for Roger Matthews in a VW Rabbit.
For race day, we found a few more spots on the mountain to shoot from and have a good time. We had a little scare when the Lawrence #88 skidded across the road, with his Quad tumbling behind him. He too was alright and walked away from the accident. He did state that he had a sore butt and couldn’t see. Probably because his glasses were in three pieces over about 50 feet.
The rest of the day seemed pretty uneventful as far as crashes go, so it was fun. It’s nice to see that CHCA is a truly professional group of people that care about the race and the drivers whoparticipate. Overall we had a fantastic time and will absolutely be there next year if the schedule allows us to go. It was absolutely a pleasure to see the race and associate with great people that participate and run the Lands End Hill Climb.
Enjoy the highlight video!
By: Joel Yust