Jun 25, 2014 12:00 PM by Jordan Mason
Colorado Springs, CO. Qualifying is underway in Colorado Springs for the 92nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Among the returning participants is 7-time winner, 3 Time Overall winner, Paul Dallenbach, returning to the Open Wheel Division after setting a New World Record in the Time Attack Class - 9:46.001 - last year. He also set the Production Car World Record in 2013 on Pikes Peak driving a Land Rover up to the top in 12:35.
Although Paul owns the Number 98, Open Wheel car with a small block Chevy engine producing 750 HP, purposely built for Pikes Peak and adapted over time for changing road conditions, this will be his first time driving it on the Peak. Paul won at the Goodwood festival driving this car in 2007 and his brother brought home a win at Pikes Peak in this car in 2006.
In testing two weeks ago, the times were close and Paul's times were pacing well under the record, setting up an extremely close competition ... tenths of seconds will make a difference. Last year, speeds reached 150 mph on the all-paved course.
"I am excited to be driving this car in the race this year. We have a lot of reasons to win. One is my crash in the Open Wheel in 2012, another is my crew who lost everything last year in the Black Forest fire. I want to win as much for them as myself."
Paul's Crew, Loophole Racing of Colorado Springs, is lead by owners David and Bud Hoffpauir. They lost their homes and shop in the Black Forest fire last year and this is their return to the mountain as well. Their talented team includes Scott Gross, David LaPerche, Tony Peak, Alan Smith and Steve Woods.
"At the test, the car ran well," remarked Dallenbach. "We will make some adjustments due to the road conditions, mostly the bumpiness, on the top created by the harsh winter. Then we expect it (the car) to perform even better!"
Also new this year and adding to the challenge, Pike Peak Challenge racers, including the Open Wheel class, are required to use DOT tires (tires approved by the Department of Transportation for street use).
Paul's biggest competition comes from another famous Colorado racing family racing with a FORD engine, Clint Vasholtz. With 39 victories, the Vasholtz family has more victories on Pikes Peak than the Unsers. Paul will also be running against the car in which he crashed in 2012, now owned by Spencer Steele.
Paul's appearance this year at the PPIHC is made possible through his sponsors, Famous Dave's BBQ, Alpine Bank, Hoosier Race Tires, PPG, Unser racing, and BRM Watches. "We are fortunate to have sponsors who are so generous and into racing, actively participating in our race preparation," remarks Dallenbach, "It is great to have them as partners and great to have them on the mountain, cheering me on."
Practice and Qualifying begins today, Tuesday, June 24th, and continues through the 27th.
Fan Fest isFriday, June 27th in Downtown Colorado Springs from 5:00-10:00 p.m. This event is free and typically attracts 35,000 race fans from all over the country, and features a beer garden, chili cook-off, motorcycle jumpers as well as other live entertainment. Top race qualifiers, including Dallenbach, will display their vehicles (cars, quads, motorcycles, etc.), give driver demos and be present for autograph sessions.
Race Day is Sunday, June 29th. Last year, a crowd estimated at 8,093 race fans, officials, accredited news media, driver and racer crews lined the course to watch.
About the Race
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest motor sports race in America - Only the Indianapolis 500 is older - and a long-standing tradition in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. First competed in 1916, this year marks the 92nd running of the "Race to the Clouds." The race will take place on Sunday, June 29th with race related events during the preceding week. The infamous race is run on a 12.42 mile course with 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finish at the 14,110 foot summit of America's Mountain - where America the Beautiful was penned - Pikes Peak! As the gutsy drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps physical muscle strength. The thin air - two miles above sea level - also robs engines of 30% of their power at the summit. Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape simply to finish...let alone win! The race weekend kicks off on Friday in downtown Colorado Springs where 35,000 race fans get to meet the drivers and racers up close and see their automobiles and motorcycles. There is no other race course in the world like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It attracts race crews that are willing to spend several hundred thousand dollars and months of preparation to compete for the right to be the King of the Mountain.