So, you think you’ve got a pretty cool street car, do ya? You’ve got all the latest after market bits and a sexy paint job. Maybe you’ve upgraded the suspension, and made a few mods to the engine and even hit the occasional track day.
But when was the last time you took it on an epic, cross country, six thousand-plus mile road trip? Oh, and right in the middle of that road trip, you squeeze in one of the most difficult and demanding races on the planet – The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Pretty awesome achievement, right? Doing that once is a pretty incredible feat. What makes this Pony extra special is that it has done this trip not once, but THREE times. And this year, just a week from now, it’ll do it for the fourth year in a row.
Kash Singh, who has been working for Ford for ten years now, knew he wanted a GT500. The problem was going to be finding one that perfectly suited his vision. His dream car.
MLAS: Tell us about how you found the car.
Kash: In the summer of 2008, I was living in Dallas, Texas and I was looking to buy a Shelby GT500. For one reason or another I lost hope of finding one locally, in white with blue stripes, which was also priced right. Dealers were still getting way over sticker for these cars at the time. On a spur of the moment road trip, a friend and I decided to head north on a Friday night, ending up in Wichita, Kansas. The next morning we drove to Topeka to take a picture of the state capital (checking it off the list). Exiting the freeway, on the road to the Capitol building was a Ford Dealer. As I started to say to my friend “What are the chances this store in the middle of small town Kansas has a White Shelby with blue stripes?” She finished the statement by turning her head and saying “Yes, they do”. I pull in to inquire about the car, and the Dealer starts to play the price game. I give him my business card and tell him if he wants to sell it at sticker I will be in town for another 10 minutes and then I’m heading back to Dallas. I didn’t get a call on that short drive but the following Monday I received a call from the dealer telling me he would meet my price and give a better amount on trade-in. That Friday I found myself driving back up the 600 miles to Topeka to pick up the car. The Blower is set from the factory needing a break-in period of about 500 miles. The trip back took care of that and as I got closer to home I was truly able to get into the throttle. And man can it move!
MLAS: You’ve driven out to Pikes Peak every year – how many years now?
Kash: Three years – 2011 I drove up from Dallas. A fairly easy twelve hour drive if you do it straight through. 2012 and 2013 I drove from Detroit, a bit longer at twenty hours, and in 2014 I’ll drive out from Detroit.
MLAS: Why drive it out instead of putting her on the trailer?
Kash: Driving out gives me time to get reacquainted with the car. I consider it a long practice session. And the best part is I can say I drove my race car out, raced it and drove it back. Being able to say that goes a long way in automotive circles.
MLAS: What route did you take coming to the race?
Kash: Coming out from Detroit I took the most direct route since I wanted to Superman the drive – all 20 hours of it in one session – through Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and into Colorado. I-80 most of the way through. That didn’t go exactly as planned.
MLAS: Really? Tell us about the trip.
Kash: On the drive out, halfway through Nebraska around eight in the evening, I came across a few storm chaser trucks. I Facebooked a couple pictures of them and that’s when my phone started ringing. My crew Chief, Greg Decker, tells me to find an overpass and park the car under it. At the same time the clouds started to turn green and that’s when I noticed tornados forming just North and South of my location. I stepped on the gas, trying to outrun the hail, luckily I was on the outskirts so the hail pieces were relatively small. I don’t advise cruising at over a 100mph in rainy conditions, but as anyone that’s traveled through Nebraska knows, it’s very hard to find an overpass in the middle of nowhere. I finally came across a gas station near the Nebraska-Colorado border. As soon as I parked under the roof Mother Nature let go with quarter-sized hail. Walking into the gas station the lady behind the counter was surprised I would be driving in these conditions. She pointed at the TV overhead and there was storm after storm running south across my route, so she recommended I spend the night parked near the gas pumps under the cover of roof. I thanked her for letting me use the space and tucked myself into the race seat for the night. Around five the next morning I started back up. The string of storms turned out to be the worst that summer, causing tons of damage with soft ball sized hail. Luckily my car was not on the causality list.
MLAS: Tell us about your run up the hill last year.
Kash: We didn’t have any major issues with the car. When the green flag flew the rain hit us again. The previous year (2012) we had the same conditions when the green flag dropped and they ended up shortening the race to the half way mark at Glen Cove. This year I was hoping I could make it to the top. With bad weather, the run mindset was changed from going fast to just making it to the top safely. It was a great year, and finally after three years, I made it to the summit and celebrated with my fellow drivers and friends.
MLAS: Considering all the great places your car has been, what was it like to see it out on the salt?
Kash: It may seem corny but seeing the car on the salt and standing there at sunset was a magical experience. It was a stark, barren landscape with the winds dancing around.
MLAS: You and I parted company after our photo shoot on the salt, where did you head next?
Kash: After the Salt Flats, we headed back to Salt Lake City for the night. Early the next morning we set out for Grand Teton National Park. The journey from Salt Lake City took us past Bear Lake on the Idaho – Utah border. We spent the night at Jackson Lake Lodge overlooking the Tetons. In the morning drove from Grand Teton in to Yellow Stone Park. Spent the whole day driving the 142 mile figure 8 loop, stopping at every point of interest in the park. Took longer than expected and ran across plenty of traffic jams due to Bison on the roads. From Yellow Stone headed north west, destination was Glacier National Park. Stopped in Bozeman for the night, next morning drove hard to Glacier National Park. Drove through park on the going to the sun road. Great drive with awesome over looks and waterfalls flowing over and under the roads. That was 4th of July weekend; we exited the park and ended up on Blackfeet Nation reservation. (Reference American mural at sunset on my Facebook page album “Pikes Peak Road Trip”). It was interesting finding the mural in the middle of Indian reservation on July 4th. From there headed back towards Detroit. Passing by Mt. Rushmore at night, drove through Badlands National Park and returned to Detroit six days after setting out from Colorado Springs Monday morning.
MLAS: How many miles in total was the trip?
Kash: This year we went over ,6000 miles.
MLAS: Finally, give us some details about the car.
Kash: It’s a 2008 Shelby GT500. Here’s some of the basics:
Engine – Ford Racing- calibration, Intake, larger radiators
Suspension – Eibach coil over set up
Interior – AutoPower roll cage, full fire system, Cobra Racing Seats, Shaker 1000 radio with Sub (gotta have music for drive).
Here are a few of my favorite photos from our time at the Salt Flats:
A few shots by Kash Singh during his road trip: