Many drivers and driving enthusiasts ‘think‘ they have what it takes to conquer Pikes Peak in an 800+ horsepower Pikes Peak Unlimited beast…after all we’d done it to record smashing success in a video game, right?  And then they get a peek at a video like this and reality sets in.  Most of us can’t do this.   The level of talent on exhibit here is clearly evident and becomes even more so the further up the hill you go.

It takes a hefty dose of speed, quickness, instinct, and straight up, old-fashioned guts.  One or two of these traits exist in all of us.  Rarely, though, is it found all pent up in one body waiting for a world-renowned, historically-unmatched race to be unleashed upon.  Overstated…?  Maybe…maybe not.

"Texas" Dave
“Texas” Dave

This is “Texas” Dave Carapetyan.  You can’t pronounce his last name, but don’t be discouraged because most people can’t.  I thinks it’s something like care-uh-pet-ee-un. But who knows.  He may not know.  Unlocking the secret of the pronunciation of his last name may be the key to unlocking the very secret of the universe…or even life, itself.  Me…I just call him Dave.  Others, though, have just resorted to calling him “Texas” Dave (you know, because he’s from Detroit…kidding, he’s from Austin.  That’s in Texas).

Dave is just 25 years-old and has already accumulated six podiums on Pikes Peak in the Open Division, including three class championships.  A few years ago Dave decided to go play with the big kids and transformed his Open car into a fire-breathing Unlimited beast.  Better to be a small fish in a big pond, or some such.  Unfortunately, each year since that decision he has been plagued by gremlins and he had yet to finish in the Unlimited Class.  In 2011 he failed to even start the race.  A regular Greek tragedy this was, and one not well received by Dave; or the countless bodies who had attached themselves to Dave and his grand endeavor.  (The guy who paid his entry fee was gutted, I’m sure)

This year though, things had changed a bit down on the farm; and Dave got some much needed support from some very well-connected people in Canada of all places.  Yes, it turns out our fine friends in the great white North, know 4G63’s (The power-plant in Dave’s Mitsubishi EVO), and know them rather well.  Dave and team were finally able to put together a car that had an honest chance of not only making the summit, but actually contending for the overall.  Then Sébastien Loeb and Peugeot decided to come to the party and, well, the rest is eight minutes and thirteen seconds of history.  That little factoid does absolutely nothing to diminish the incredible feat that Dave and his team accomplished this year.

Dave was standing on the summit on Race Day, having gotten to the summit faster than he ever had before and ultimately that’s what we, as Pikes Peak racers, live to accomplish.  Regardless of win or loss, there is no worse feeling to someone who has raced the peak than not making the summit on Race Day.  Go ahead and ask me how I know (Ouch!).  It wasn’t all peaches and cream, however.  Race Day, and the entire week for that matter, was not without its trials.  A blown steering rack, a broken throttle body shaft, and other minor irritants were the rule this week; and the worst of the worst came on race day itself.

I’ll let Dave explain what happened during his run.

Dave: We knew from the outset that our competitors were out of our league this year.  Our car weighed 3,000lbs, we were around 600hp and we were on used Pirelli World Challenge tires.  The good news is that I was 100% confident that the car was fast, the setup was perfect and it was comfortable at the limit, thanks to our awesome crew.  The start was quick, we were able to click 5th gear in the first couple corners. I noticed a few corners in, that it started to behave strangely.  By Halfway Picnic it was already a bit lethargic and couldn’t quite wind out 4th gear.  At Glen Cove I started to get a bit concerned.  The response on corner exit was slower and the car developed a bit of a misfire.  It’s hard to keep all of your focus on driving when you’re concerned about the well-being of the car, so I took a few checks on the switch panel to make sure a fan switch or the secondary fuel pump hadn’t switched off.  The car became slower and slower until finally, just after Boulder Park, it all disappeared.  In an instant I had the same power I did in my stock Integra back in 2005…none.  Luckily, that section was the sketchy one with the big bumps that had most of the drivers on edge all week. So if there’s a place to cruise through it’s the last 5 corners. And hey, after the past two years I’ve had, I was just happy to cross the finish line.  Not to mention, 10 and a half minutes in a slow, fat car on used tires isn’t too shabby!

KS: So, what exactly went wrong that made the magic power ponies go away?
Dave: Oh yeah, when I parked it on the summit is when I saw we lost a reinforcement bracket on the charge pipe.  But the real culprit was a 4 bolt T4 flange that didn’t like the bolts we threaded in.  Three of them had disappeared and one of them was hanging on by its fingernails.

KS: OK, lets do the stereotypical sponsor run-down.  I know it takes quite a bit of help to get to Pikes Peak, particularly the Unlimited Division, so who all gave your team the love this year?
Dave: Of course there are a ton of sponsors to thank:

KS: Awesome…and your (Motley) crew?
Dave: Roy, Cruz, Josh, Jason, Wes, Phillip, Ken, Brandon, Taylor and Lyndsey, Brianne, Paul C, Marco, Lio and all the boys at Magnus, Robert and Michael at FP, Shawn Dollars, everybody who helped with this car over the past few years.  Thank you.  Seriously.  Thank you.  Hearts.

KS: Good stuff.  Thanks Dave.

And now, kids, here’s the video that will make you say, WOW.  Dave’s entire run from Start to the 14,110′ Summit…focus on the footwork, people.  It’s a lesson on how to properly and enthusiastically drive a three pedal, stick shifted ‘rassin’ machine.