As the sun rose over Pikes Peak, it created an orange cast on the last of the dirt. In just a few minutes, this dirt would be thrown into the air by some who know this dirt well, and others who had never touched it. The dirt didn’t care if someone was a rookie or a veteran though. It just wanted to be used in the best way possible, for racing up America’s Mountain.
There is something about the early practice days on Pikes Peak, that gives one a huge respect for the mountain. When crawling through the darkness, trying not to trip on a rock, I wonder how a road was built up here in the first place. Finally I find a spot which I consider “perfect”. Although there really isn’t a bad spot anywhere on Pikes Peak.
Jittering from the cold, I get my camera ready for the action. It is incredibly quiet, but a few miles down the mountain, a roar can be heard. No where else in the world can someone experience mother nature and machine, in perfect harmony.
The first car up is Randy Schranz in his trusty Propane-powered Shelby Cobra. The sound of this car is unmistakable after 5 years of going to the event, and Randy’s driving shows he is a 37 year veteran.
My camera has a hard time capturing the car flying through the dirt in utter darkness. As more cars come through, the sun gets higher, and the temps begin to rise. The drivers’ intensity seems to heat up along with the temperature as the day goes on.
Two cars in particular look very fast throughout the morning. They both just happen to be all electric too. Could this be the future of racing? I know race fans don’t want the sound of a V8 to disappear, but at a place like Pikes Peak, electric is perfect.
Not needing to worry about oxygen or altitude, the Yokohama EV driven by Ikuo Hanawa is was eerily fast.
I witnessed a few close calls as the drivers pushed it harder and harder trying to qualify for the best spot on raceday.
The dirt was also very dry and slippery, causing SuperStock cars to get extremely sideways.
Luckily nobody had any serious offs, and the day was a successful farewell to the dirt practice sessions of the past. If Thursday was any indication, the Unlimiteds were going to be very fast on this section Friday. – Colin Brandt
Check out the gallery below: