Gold miners in the mid-1800s coined the term “Pikes Peak or Bust” as a motivational motto while en route, to moving to the southern Colorado region in hopes that they would one day strike it rich. Racers from all over the world descend upon Colorado Springs every year not to strike it rich, but to challenge the mountain, that once guided the early prospectors.
Schnell Works Motorsports is once again challenging the Peak this year fielding a Peak Performance Products Subaru WRX wagon in the Time Attack class. As you probably have heard, this is the first year that Pikes Peak will be an all-paved course. Records are expected to fall and teams are anxious, to throw away the mixed surface setups and tire selections in favor of stiffer and lower setups all in the name of going faster.
Technical inspection went off without a hitch at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Organizers choose to make tech inspection bigger and better this year, by holding it at the former NASCAR-sanctioned track and included some new fan-friendly attractions, such as a ride alongs in a new Scion (read drift sessions filled with lots of BFG tire smoke), beer gardens, food vendors and a chance to get up close and personal with all of the drivers.
First day of practice had the team on the top section of the course – Devils Playground to Summit. The green flag dropped at 5:30 am for our first of three practice runs for the day. The team’s goals for the day included feeling out a new semi-slick tire, getting the notes spot on between driver and co-driver; and feeling out all of the offseason changes to the WRX. The team was hard at work in the offseason with re-building the motor and gearbox, relocating weight, and improving our aerodynamics package.
Our first run ended in smoke coming from under the hood on the summit. A collective “Why is it doing that??” was uttered through the car’s intercom. A closer inspection revealed that a leaking power steering pump was the culprit. Our crew tinkered with it back in the pits and got the problem to go away for the rest of the two practice runs; but a new pump will be installed prior to Thursdays’ qualifying run, that will be held on the lower section of the course – Start Line to Glen Cove. All in all the car ran great, handled well and felt very balanced. After our big issue last year with losing a gearbox on the first day, it was nice to put the car back in the trailer in good shape.
We would like to thank our great sponsors that help make it happen for our team every year – Peak Performance Products, APR Performance and Crawford Performance. These companies make some of the best products in the automotive industry and we are thrilled to have them on board.