Here is Love Fab’s Pikes Peak story, Behind the Build, in their own words….a Love Story for sure. Enjoy. – CNaz.
Behind The Build
Tabitha Lohr. CoDriver & Marketing Director LoveFab, Inc.
Cody Loveland. Driver, Owner of LoveFab Inc & Acura NSX
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, held a mystique for Cody Loveland. He had always been a huge fan (and follower) of the Pikes Peak race but in 2009, the fascination became more of an obsession when the Japanese driver, Monster Tajima, broke the long standing record held by Rod Millen. Monster Tajima would set a new record, but not break the elusive 10 minute mark on the mountain. Cody started reading the Rule Book and when he started mentioning that he wanted to try and compete in the 2012 competition and race in the Time Attack Class, I told him he was crazy! I also told him he was even crazier if he thought he could do it without me. Of course I would support him in anything he wanted to do, but this race was something we decided we needed to do together. We would pilot a car in the Time Attack with Cody as driver and me as the co-driver.
Cody is the founder and owner of LoveFab Inc., a high-end automotive fabrication shop, specializing in the Acura NSX. LoveFab is known in the NSX community for their reliable and well built turbo kits, as well as custom-made components.
In the fall of 2011, Cody began filming for Car Warriors in Los Angeles and in the back of his mind, he knew that the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb registration opened November 1st. All he could think about was Pikes Peak. After finishing the show stint, he threw caution to the wind and decided to come back and fill out the Pikes Peak Race application. Miraculously, we were accepted! We now were in full race build mode!
DHP Composites was one of our first Sponsors to sign on for the 2012 Pikes Peak race. DHP Composites agreed to work with us to build a full aero package for the NSX, which was needed to be competitive in the Unlimited Class. We had originally planned (and been accepted for) the Time Attack Class, but with the new sponsor…well, we decided that we should run in the Unlimited Class. We asked the Pikes Peak Operations Director, Megan Leatham to switch Classes, and it was no problem. Voila! With one phone call, we were now going to compete in the Unlimited Class at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb!
After the Pikes Peak change of class approval was set in stone, we began working with graphic designer, Edmon Jiddou, to get a rendering created to send to potential sponsors & media. After emailing consistently for months, between Cody, Edmon, and DHP Composites, we finally had an idea as to what the car would look like. By showing what the car would look like and where sponsor logos would be placed, it allowed a promotional visual, and was a key to our support. It wasn’t just a “what if” anymore, this design image would be what the car would be built to resemble.
By this time, it was the end of January, and two major companies had signed-on as sponsors for the NSX Pikes Peak build: Turbo by Garrett, and TiAL Products. Looking at our schedule, we had about 4 months to build this NSX into an Unlimited Class competitor. As “privateers” there was no team of engineers. With limited help from friends and family, Cody & I were the ones responsible to complete the daunting task of building a Pikes Peak Unlimited race car.
Gaining additional sponsors would be no easy achievement either. With Cody & I having zero competition experience, it was going to be tough to get more support. Cody had been a driving instructor at Gingerman Raceway for almost a decade, as well as test-driving his customer’s 800+HP NSX’s for reliability. With his knowledge of the NSX and its power, we felt we had what it takes to run Pikes Peak and place well in the Unlimited Class. Knowing that we would be racing against some of the best racers in the world, our goal for our first Pikes Peak event would be to build the car and to simply finish the race. After achieving that, we were going to take what we learned and then apply it to the next year’s Pikes Peak 2013 build.
The “aero” we would be adding would result in down force numbers near 7,000 lbs at 150mph. The car would have to be able to handle that force and the motor would have to make enough power to still propel the car forward under the tremendous drag. The suspension would have to prevent the car from “bottoming out” under that pressure during higher speeds, while still being effective at lower speeds.
During the family Thanksgiving dinner that year, Cody was preoccupied with the build and began doodling on a napkin. From that “doodle” he had master minded the basis for a third element suspension design. He knew our aero loads would be insane and he knew that we needed something “else”. This was it. The 3rd element suspension had been used on F1 cars since the early 90s. It’s a third shock that only becomes active under extreme suspension compression. Cody would then take this napkin doodle and build multiple position bell cranks to be able to quickly change shock travel and leverage ratios.
During the winter we had a major build happening for Pikes Peak we also had multiple LoveFab customer projects needing to be finished, 2 employees to manage and our 900 sq/ft home-garage-shop was not going to work anymore. Cody had been operating out of his commercially zoned garage for 7 years and now the business had expanded to a point where we simply needed more space. A difficult decision had to be made. Move our shop location during a Northern Michigan winter along with the fact that all projects had to be stopped until we were operational in the new space. It was difficult to say the least.
It took about 2 weeks of non-stop moving, wiring, and setup to be up and running enough to begin customer work again. The Pikes Peak NSX wasn’t touched hardly at all in February. Customer work was clearly a priority. March came, and we began assembling some of the carbon fiber pieces provided by DHP Composites. We then began building “bucks” on the car so parts could be overlaid for shape, made out of carbon fiber. Building the body out of wood and other inexpensive materials, we created the the Pikes Peak NSX race car body. Once we had the car to a point in the build, and the bucks complete, we delivered the car to DHP Composites and they had the car for seven weeks, custom building the rest of our carbon body.
The new shop location was 30 miles from our home. That long drive was costing us so much valuable time & money. It quickly became a burden to drive home every night, for less than five hours of sleep. We had such a work-load, two guys to employ, and it was a waste of time and money to commute every day. We needed to cut our costs however possible.
We purchased a pull out couch, loaded the truck full of a few boxes of clothes, grabbed our two Great Danes, TV and turned our shop office into our home. Our source of running water was two warehouses away and up a flight of stairs. No shower, no laundry, no kitchen. I had a grill and a microwave but knowing we were building for our future, the sacrifices were not a huge issue. We had Pikes Peak on the horizon and that made is all worthwhile.
We of course hid the fact we were living there from mostly everyone. Every morning I would put the bed away, as well as all signs of home living. Thank you to our amazing family for allowing us to use their shower & laundry at all hours of the day and to keep our secret just that – secret.
Throughout the 2012 summer, Cody and I had a very unique relationship. We had zero time to do anything a normal young couple in love would be doing. All we could do was stay positive and motivate each other to keep pushing forward. I would nanny for three kids at 6AM for extra cash. Denise, who is the mother of those kids, donated money for my safety gear and their names are on the NSX.
While the car was in DHPs shop, Cody and I flew out to Colorado Springs to spend a weekend on the Peak. It was our very first time on the mountain. We were able to borrow a friend’s NSX, Tom and Jaque Fuller, to go up and down the mountain getting to know the road in an NSX was incredible! We also had awesome tour guides! Pikes Peak racers, Savannah and Valentin Ivanitski of Fingers Crossed Racing, let us stay in their home and took us up Pikes Peak for the very first time. They showed us important corners and provided us with so much valuable information for the race and course. Being rookies to the mountain, their main concern was our safety. Education would be the best way and both Cody and I want to give a huge thank you to Savannah and Val. You both are so awesome!
After returning from CO, we picked up the car from DHP Composites. Seeing the car at this point, it took my breath away. It was no longer just a designed image, it was taking shape. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, we took the NSX back to our shop, and began the motor install, as well as the painting the chassis. Pikes Peak Practice was just two weeks away, so we thrashed as hard as we could to get the car together. Unfortunately, customer commitments forced us to step back, re-evaluate the situation and we decided that the car was not ready and we had to abandon any hope of attending the Practice. We would not have had a complete car, and our customers always come first – even for Pikes Peak.
After completing the customer projects we were able to complete the NSX. “Hot off the rollers” the car was already making 670WHP at 20psi on 93 Octane fuel. Everything was a GO on Wednesday, June 28th, and with just two days left until departure for Pikes Peak. We decided to load up the car to test before heading 2000 miles west. Disaster struck two laps in. It was apparent that a rod began knocking after turn 1, a hard carousel-type corner. The dry sump system failed and it was not returning oil to the storage tank fast enough and was pooling in the motor’s oil sump.
Cody pulled off the track, with hardly a concern on his face and said “The motor is done, but we will get this! We have the stock block still together; we can swap it out in a day, ditch the dry-sump, and get to the race before Tech inspection.”
To top it off, our previously arranged wheel sponsor notified us the same day that we would only have one set of wheels on-hand for the race, even though we had paid for three discounted sets. This was not going our way. Then, something amazing happened and we received two very important emails. One was that HRE Wheels was going to step up, and supply the needed wheels for the race. HOLY COW! The same wheel company that supports Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, and Rhys Millen. We were breathless with excitement over this announcement, as we were essentially part of the Elite Pikes Peak Team.
And then, we received an email that changed the course of the year – Pikes Peak was postponed due to wildfires! WOW!!
We rushed home, assessed the damage, ordered replacement parts, converted the car to a standard wet-sump, and rebuilt the motor. All after-hours, as customer-work that was scheduled to be delayed for two weeks could still be completed. We had arranged to move into an apartment directly after the first scheduled Pikes Peak race-date. With the delay, we moved into the apartment ahead of schedule, which was a HUGE stress reliever.
With the new huge sponsor announcement, and with the delayed race, the Pikes Peak Love Fab intrigue across the globe had never been higher. Our car went public for the first time with HRE Wheels new wheel-design launch, and then the car went viral. Speedhunters, Autoblog, MotorTrend, Car and Driver and hundreds of other internet-based publications released the car on their blogs – instant overnight Internet-fame.
No pressure right?
We began testing the car again with both of us in the car this time. Two things were immediately apparent. The car was FAST and the car did NOT like to turn above 80mph. With two days until departure, the “core” of the car passed its shakedown tests with flying colors. So, why wouldn’t the car turn and what can we do about it? The rear wings size and moment of leverage was literally lifting the front of the car off the ground. The younger generation should recognize this phenomenon. Think of the Pikes Peak Escudo in Grand Turismo 4 and the massive 300mph wheelies down the straights of the test oval. That’s what our NSX was like and we had to come up with a solution.
With only 24 hours until departure, Cody and his brother Chris, built the worlds largest Canards and literally bolted them to the side panels of the front of the car. Later, several other Time Attack cars followed suit by placing massive canards on the fronts of their cars. Coincidence or not, we will never know. We were out of time to test. We loaded up and left for Colorado Springs.
We got settled in at Pikes Peak Acura, near downtown Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak Acura provided an entire dealership for our team, a nearly new Acura TL “Recce” Car and more support than we were ever prepared for. We can’t thank them enough! We literally had six lifts for ourselves! Remember, it was just Cody and me up to this point. Our crew wasn’t scheduled to show until Thursday, August 9th.
We put the last minute touches on the car, and headed to Pikes Peak International Raceway to begin testing at altitude. Well, Cody’s Canards worked because the car was an absolute MONSTER, was very neutral, and was very fast. Then, problems began to show themselves. It was 115 degree ambient temperature, with 155 degree track temperatures; at 7600 feet of elevation. In other words, zero air available to cool the car, and its components. Cody would run for two to three laps, and then would lose all fuel pressure, and would have to be pushed into the pits. It would resolve itself, and would fire up again in about twenty minutes and repeat the issue on-track only. We decided that we had enough testing and went back to the dealer to try and diagnose the problem.
Without a “smoking gun” and no issue while the car was cold, we prepped the car for Tech Inspection and went to bed. The following day, we arrived to discover that the Unlimited Class needed a full fire system; while we only had two fire extinguishers. The guys at Pikes Peak International Raceway, Bob Boileau, and Paul Jensen, came to the rescue and had one in-stock down at the race shop. With the help of fellow-competitor and all-around awesome guy Doug Siddens, we completed the worlds fastest Fire System Installation. We began the installation at 2:15pm, and finished it at 2:30pm, which was the sign-in cut-off for the Unlimited Division.
The next challenge reared its ugly head. Race officials Randy Ruyle, and Dan Skokan notified Cody and I that we had to be in the Rookie Class Meeting at the same time as the Unlimited Division was scheduled to run through Tech. Well, this was a problem; because we had no crew to push the car. Thankfully fellow competitors, Kash Singh and Doug Siddens were there to run our car through tech. It was amazing that it passed, as dozens of competitor’s cars failed tech – even cars that had run in previous years. Cody built an amazing car.
We went back to the dealer after tech, checked and re-checked our in car communication system and went to bed. Practice Day 1 began at 2AM. We were due at the toll gates at 3AM, to begin the ascent to the parking lot at Devils Playground, right around 12,500 feet. Cody was worried that the car would even start at that altitude, as he had no prior experience tuning at that kind of altitude. The car fired right up, and before we knew it, we were strapped in, ready for our first drive on the mountain, in the car that we had labored for six months to build.
Adrenaline pumping, we were given the green flag. We knew we were in for a tough week when the car was just too damn loud for our in car communication system. We could not hear each other! Cody took it easy on the first run and we made it to the top. It was an amazing feeling to be on the summit with everyone else that shared the same passion, the same drive, and the same goals, all waiting at 14,115 feet for their return trip down for next run.
We decided to just keep it safe for the day, and devised a method of visual communication, where I would simply shake the notes violently if the turn was a tighter radius than a “4”. On the second run, we had problems. The sun rises below you when you’re that high up. Cody came around a corner, ran into direct sunlight, lost all vision, and as a result had to crank the steering wheel at the last minute once he found the road. This unsettled the car and since the ambient air temperature was about 30 degrees, the tires were cold. He kept us alive, but we slid off the side of the road, coming to a stop by hitting a boulder the size of a shopping cart. We were fine. The car seemed fine with the exception of the DHP Composites front wing. It took the full brunt of the impact and was mostly OK except for a 2”X8” hole punched into the leading edge.
The safety truck gave us a tug by the massive wing supports, and we were on our way back down to re-run. Our primary concern was that we did not cost anyone else precious time for practice, so we “hauled-ass” on the way down to the staging start area. We completed our third run and made some mistakes, but we both had learned a lot. One of those lessons was that the car needed a re-tune.
Enter Revolutions Performance in Colorado Springs. With an ambient temperature of around 110 degrees, we unloaded and began to tune the car. Power was way down compared to back home and the turbo response was much different. Cody tuned for about an hour altogether and with Adam Kennedy’s advice, made several changes in relation to timing and spark plug gap. With the car making 754WHP@24 psi of boost, which was more than any other Pikes Peak car had made on Adam’s dyno to date, Cody went for a final pull at 26psi. The fuel pressure symptom came back! With Adam’s help, Cody determined that it was a fuel pump issue. The fuel system has two fuel pumps; a small transfer pump that fills a surge tank and huge pump that pressurizes the motor. The transfer pump was failing under high-load situations, causing the surge tank to run dry. Adam pulled a replacement pump out of a project car and sent us on our way back to the dealer to replace it. This was the first of many times that Adam would help us throughout the week.
Practice, Day 2, Qualifying. Cody and I were up late the night before swapping out the fuel pump. With two hours of sleep, we were back on the mountain at 3:30AM unloading the car. We borrowed helmets from Dave Carapetyan, and could finally hear each other through the communication system. With the first run under our belt a success, we were ecstatic! We really took it easy, nervous that our communication system would cut out. Cody never really had time to learn the road and driving it at “recce-speed” is NOT the same as driving at race speed. Run 2, feeling confident because he could clearly hear my notes, Cody decided to pick up the pace. Coming out of Hansen’s Corner, I lost my spot in the notes and called for Cody to, “drive it as you see it,” until I found my place again. He confirmed and drove the road as he saw it. Within seconds, I thought I had found my place on the mountain. Both of us thought we knew where we were, and thought we had already driven through Engineers Corner. We both confused “Horseshoe” with the corner AFTER Engineers and assumed we were coming to the Picnic Grounds, which is a “Left 6”. Unfortunately, we entered Engineers Corner which is a tight Left 2 (30-40mph) with a speed that you would normally carry into a left 6 – at about 100mph.
Cody caught the mistake early enough to save our lives, but we still launched off the road at what onlookers estimate to be 50-60mph. Joel Yust’s, Do You Want Me To Shoot You, image is burned into our brains for eternity, as we launched into the woods where he was shooting photos. The car dug into the side of the mountain by approximately three feet in an ‘endo’ (front end first) position and then fell back to its wheels. During the crash, we landed on a tree, which buckled the floor pan under my seat, compressing my spine, causing four ribs to dislocate. Upon impact, we both thought we were done for the week. The car appeared at first glance to be totaled with nearly a year’s work down the drain. Cody settled down and got back to looking at the car. There wasn’t even a coolant leak, even though the radiators were under a foot of rock and dirt. The practice concluded and Cody began to disassemble the car in preparations for moving the car up the side of the mountain, back onto the road, so it could put onto a trailer. Removing what pieces he could, he saved expensive carbon fiber parts from further damage.
Once we realized that the damage was mostly superficial, that’s when I realized I was hurt.
Tom, one of the safety officials for Pikes Peak, forced me into a neck brace and then later into an ambulance. Cody was faced with a tough decision, abandon the car and the race or stay with me? He stayed with the car, we both knew that we must try to salvage and try to race. Savannah Ivanitski followed me to the hospital and helped me to stay calm, even though all I wanted to do was to get back to the dealership and help Cody with the car. Cody went back to work on the car at the dealership, along with Jake Kaminskis, and then Yukio and Keith from Garrett by Honeywell, one of our main sponsors.
The Rebuild Miracle- in Cody Loveland’s Own Words
The car was in rough shape. Being that I was alone, I was forced to unload it alone. The splitter was dragging on the ground, so that when the car was free-rolling out of the trailer, it grabbed the trailer ramp, ripped it off the trailer, and also managed to destroy the radiators. So the NSX, despite surviving a 50mph head-on impact with the side of the mountain was in worse shape now, than it was on Pikes Peak. Great, more problems! It was going to be a long night and 2:30am next practice was going to be here soon.
I assessed the damage and started figuring out how to fix it all in less than 10 hours. Everything that was carbon fiber seemed to “pop” apart. The end plates and mounts of the front wing, the front fenders, the rear diffuser, the rear wing all needed to be re-bonded, but were mostly in-tact. The front splitter was completely busted and somehow we managed to bend over 1” of Carbon Fiber, foam and 1/8” wall aluminum tubing back into a straight plane. It would need to be re-welded and re-attached to the car before the rest of the body could be mounted.
Adam Kennedy from Revolutions Performance essentially shut down the custom-fab side of his shop by letting us use his TIG welder for the weekend. While I was repairing the metallic side of the car, Jake Kaminskis, Yukio Taira and Keith Taylor (Yukio and Keith are both from Garrett by Honeywell) were assigned the task of re-bonding the wings together. It is a 8-10 hour curing period, so they had to hurry. Fellow competitor, Doug Siddens had a repair to his DHP Composites Wings and he had used a special, quick drying epoxy (which worked). A quick phone call and a few minutes later, Doug dropped the remainder of his epoxy off at the dealer for us to repair our own DHP Composite parts. Curing jigs were not available, so the trio stacked tires, tool boxes, and whatever else they could find on top of the wings to at least pressurize them as much as possible while they cured. Rhett Snyder of Finger’s Crossed Racing also lent a huge hand in helping rebuild the car. Our crew, consisting of Adam and Jeremy Jabaay, showed up about 9pm that night, and went straight to work repairing the radiators that were damaged.
2:30AM and we still had quite a bit of work to do. Tab called to check in and told me they were heading up to Glen Cove to wait for us to get there with the car. I remember looking at the car with two guys laying down in the radiator openings, as if being eaten by the car’s mouth, trying to JB-weld the radiators shut, and thinking, “If we make it”.
With the wings still gooey but semi-solid, the body back together and the radiators holding fluid, we fired up the car at 4AM and loaded it back onto the trailer. We made it by the 4:30AM cutoff. We were the last in-pits and parked next to Rhys Millen and crew.
We unloaded the car and what happened next surprised all of us.
Tabitha started crying because the car looked relatively unharmed compared to 18 hours prior and then I started crying because I knew we had done made it back onto Pikes Peak. Millen’s crew started clapping for us. The safety stewards OK’d the car to run again and we strapped in. We rolled through pits toward the start line, and received standing ovations from nearly everyone. Tabitha and I were sobbing messes when we took off for our first run. The first run was fairly slow, because it took until “The Gate” for our watering eyes to clear up. The second, and third runs went progressively faster, because I knew this section of mountain pretty well compared to the top and bottom sections. Tabitha’s note calling reinforced what I knew, so I was able to drive halfway aggressively.
The car ran flawlessly throughout the last practice day. We weren’t last in-class for one of the runs I believe, which was the fastest we had been all week. We even caught a glimpse and exchanged nods and smiles with the great Rod Millen just below Devils Playground. I almost risked letting the car roll down the side of the mountain so that I could shake hands with the Pikes Peak Legend. Luckily, my better judgement took hold and a nod exchange was sufficient. We thrashed to clean the car up and get to FanFest. It was 2AM when we got back to the hotel which meant 48 hours with zero sleep.
Saturday preceding the race, we spent cleaning and prepping the car for the big race on Sunday. We asked Randy and Dan if we could be allowed on the mountain for a photo shoot Saturday without breaking the race regulations.
Randy Ruyle said, “Haha, good luck getting the Mountain Rangers to let you! But if you are granted access, we have no problems with it. Just don’t drive the car on the road!”
At 6PM we were hauling the car up the mountain to meet Lindbergh Nguyen. By 9 mile, we were driving through sleet and snow, which then transitioned to lighting and hail at the W’s. Not sure how we were going to shoot in this weather, we rounded the corner to Devils Playground, and were awarded with what I think is the best shoot in the history of automotive photography. All of the weather that we had just driven through became the backdrop for a blazing sun, perfectly highlighting the car. It was positioned so that there was a shear cliff right behind it, with what appeared to be a 12,500ft drop into rain-swathed valley below. No words could be heard; only gasps from Lindbergh, Keith and Yukio (they were with us in their official Garrett Rental car), and our own “OHMYGOD’s!” The photos later appeared on Speedhunters, the Official 2013 Garrett by Honeywell poster, and they are still featured on HRE Wheel’s home page. After the shoot, we went back to home base, got a lot of rest and readied ourselves for the big day.
Race Day- Tabitha’s words
After the week we had just been through, the new goal for race day was simply to finish. We didn’t care how fast we were or how we looked to onlookers, we just wanted to get to the top of that mountain. The weather was perfect, it was climbing to 70 degrees at 9am, and the bikes were the first to go. Because Jean-Phillipe Deyraut was the fastest car on the mountain, he got to choose when his class was to leave the start line. I still remember him coming up to Cody and me, half miming and speaking in his strong French accent, “10 o’clock, after ‘ze bikes”.
We suited up, checked our “coms”, grabbed the crew, fired up the car and headed down to the start line. It was 10:30 AM when they waved the green flag to Jean-phillipe. We were last in line for our class, sixth position, because we were slowest in qualifying (the crash day). We were out of the loop as to what was happening at the front of the line. We assumed Jean-phillipe made it to the top and then we heard massive explosions coming from his fire-breathing Methanol-powered twin turbo V8, which we knew had to be Paul Dallenbach leaving the line. Two minutes became five minutes. Five minutes became ten minutes. Competitors were shutting off their cars. It was now approaching 90 degrees outside and well over 110 degrees inside the car and Cody and I were getting uncomfortably hot.
Cody and I finally put two and two together when the rear wing end-plate from Paul’s car was carried by Cody’s window, “Oh my god, Paul crashed”. A few minutes later, Paul was taken by ambulance down pit row and was airlifted to the hospital. “Jesus Christ.” Cody shaken up, said, “He will be alright, he’s tough” as he tried to calm his nerves and put his mind back in race mode before we set out to take the green flag.
Next up is David Donner in his Palatov, followed by Pat Doran in the Monster RS200 and Mark Rennison in his RS200. They launched without incident, and we pulled up the line. Randy waved the flag green and we were off! I called the notes as loud as I could, but we soon discovered that the windows we installed on the doors the day before were concentrating all of the noise inside the passenger compartment. Cody could not hear me through the in-car communication syetem again. Damnit! So I reverted to yelling and shaking my notes on tight corners. Vividly familiar with the corners preceding Engineers, we were setup perfectly this time around. Cody jammed on the brakes, and was then accelerating out of the apex, when “Red Flag!” is waved at us. Cody stopped the car, asked what happened, and was told to turn around, head back to the starting line to re-start the race.
Now that the nerves were out of the way, we headed back down the mountain to the start line. GoPros filming and topped off the fuel and hurried up to the startline. Cody Launched off the line, and ran much more aggressively. He couldn’t hear me, but I was hoping his aggression was because he was starting to learn the road. We sailed through the lower section at a pretty reasonable pace and when we got to Glen Cove, we blew by Pat Doran’s RS200 on the sidelines. “4th place!” we both yelled, and continued the run. Cody was pushing maybe 5/10ths, running at a decent pace through the W’s, when we came around the 4th Leg, and saw Jean-Phillipe’s car smashed on the sidelines.
“WHAT!?!? Podium!?,” Cody yelled.
He then began to slow his pace; not attacking corner entry as hard. Still calling notes at the top of my lungs, shaking in critical places, we continued up the mountain at what I would’ve called a brisk Sunday drive. Two things happened: Cody’s driving became smoother and the car got FASTER. A cold front had moved in and the car LOVED the cooler temperatures. Combined with the dropping temperatures of the higher altitude (10 degrees per 1000 feet), it started to get really cold. Before I knew it, we were at Cog Cut, barreling toward Olympic Corner. My excitement exploded when I screamed through tears, “Left 3 over bumps, to finish!!!!!”
The GoPro on the splitter, eight feet from my mouth recorded my screaming. The motorcycle guys heard me from all corners of the Summit, and poked fun at me. We f***ing made it!!!! Cody was all smiles, with tears running down his cheeks. We came to a stop, and shut the car off. Andrew Comrie Picard (ACP) was right at my door to help me out our vehicle. I just hugged and hugged him because I was so happy! Cody was helped out by Doug Siddens, who set a record in the Exhibition Powersport class.
So, where did we end up?
We knew we were in at least 3rd place. We started looking around and couldn’t see ANY other Unlimited Cars. There is no way we were the only finisher out of the entire class and no way had we won the Unlimited Division simply by finishing. Right after our celebratory dancing, the rest of the Vintage class was coming through the finish line and then Dumas followed by Rhys Millen, who set the new overall record.
At that moment we saw the Palatov driven by David Donner at the front of the line way down in front behind Ken Gushi’s Lexus. We knew we had secured 2nd Place in the Unlimited Class as Rookies!! I was speechless!!!
We spent the next seven hours on the Summit of Pikes Peak, bumping elbows and eating donuts with Greg and Gary Tracy. Sharing stories with “ACP”, getting to know world-class racers in their private moments without press and cameras because at 14,115 feet with no way down the Peak until the race is over and there isn’t much press! It was truly an honor to be a part of this elite group of racers.
The way down was a moment of reflection. Cody and I were in and out of tears the whole way. The car developed a problem on the way down, which Cody suspected was skipped timing. It was barely running, but it kept trudging on. Fan’s lined the road for most of the trip down, clapping hands and touching our fingers through our tiny window cut-outs. We were seeded to follow Rhys down the mountain, and had front row seats to some truly spectacular burnouts and donuts. I begged Cody to do a donut, but with the motor in “who-knows-what” condition, he didn’t want to blow it up during a victory burnout.
We loaded the car up and headed to the awards ceremony. I thought all of the surprises were finished for the week, but no Cody had one last surprise for me.
The Proposal-Tabitha’s Words
Pulling into Pit Row, seeing both of our families waiting for us in the freezing rain and it is a sight I’ll never forget. My parents helped me out of the car and Cody began loading up the trailer. Inside the VIP tent about a hundred yards away the Awards ceremony was about to take place. Shaking from the cold and excitement, our LoveFab crew took a seat a few rows back from the stage. I was so glad my parents and little brother were able to sit next to me and experience what we were experiencing and to see that all the hard work was finally paying off.
On my left, Cody was all smiles, holding my hand. I leaned over and said, “Ya know… considering how much we have been through together, I was hoping you were going to propose sometime during this insane race of ours.” He just squeezed my hand and continued to smile, watching our competitors and friends receive their awards.
Since only two teams had finished in the Unlimited Class we were the first team to be called to the podium for our trophy. It was so awesome to hear the applause and yelling from the crowd of people! That moment of positive support was a reward in itself. Grabbing my hand, Cody pulled me onstage and I couldn’t look at the crowd. I was so nervous and surprised to have even reached podium! Running on zero sleep and my four injured ribs constricting my breathing, I already felt like I was ready to faint. After Cody had thanked everyone for accepting us as Rookies, he turned to me and said, “Tabitha, you’ve been with me through so much shit.” Yes, he said shit in his marriage proposal. Seeing Cody get on one knee with a gorgeous ring in his dirty hand, I was absolutely speechless. With all our peers standing up cheering, and going wild, I nodded my head, “Yes,” and Cody pulled me close to him for a kiss.
The cameras flashing and the crowd cheering I could feel that my face was bright red. Getting back to our seats with the 2nd place trophy in one hand and a diamond engagement ring on the other, I was overjoyed with happiness. The room hadn’t quite settled down when David Donner took the podium and poking fun at us, he said, “Well, I’m not going to propose to anyone, but I sure love my wife!”
Together we had the idea, the build, the sacrifice, the long hours, the traveling and now we held the trophy together at Pikes Peak. Cody and I had done it all together, start to finish…and as crazy as it sounds, this is just the beginning.
Many of our friends now know that a few months after Pikes Peak, Cody and I are preparing for our next adventure….a baby.