A Formula Vee designed for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Ken Block and his off-road Formula Vee race car in 1972

When most people think of Formula Vee race cars their thought goes to paved road race courses on the west coast.  The idea of placing an aircooled Volkswagen engine in a light weight tube chassis car was started by privateers before the manufacturer got behind the program.  Formula Vee or “FV” racing was an inexpensive way to get into motorsports racing.  This style of race car had a very large following that continues still today throughout the country and overseas as well. The cars are easy to work on, easy to haul and don’t take up that much room in a home garage. The class rules help keep cost down and the races have large fields with close competition.   Find out more about Formula Vee racing at :   http://www.formulavee.us/

Ken Blockhan

In the 1960’s Ken Blockhan owned a service station in Cascade Colorado at the foot of the Pikes Peak Automobile Highway. After hundreds of service calls in his wrecker along the road up to the summit, he learned the course by heart.  The racing bug seems to effect just about everyone who lives in the Colorado mountains long enough. It didn’t take Ken long to catch it. He built his first car with a 40 horsepower VW motor and he began running races at the local gravel pit having some success. The first race car proved out his idea, that a light weight chassis with a rear mounted VW engine could be very competitive against the heavier and higher horsepowered cars.  Using a friends Formula Vee race car, he made molds of the body panels to use on his new race car and developed a stronger chassis design in order handle the additional stress of hill climbing racing. Additional horsepower was going to be needed the 2nd time around.  Ken built up a 1700cc Volkswagen engine using a 64mm stroker crank and dual carburetors,  more then doubling the horsepower of his old race car. When finished, the new race car only weighed a little over 800 pounds. In later years, he updated the engine to a 2180 RayJay turbo VW motor running close to 150 hp  and still only weighing about 800 pounds.

Ken’s Husky Service advertisement for the 1973 PPHC race featuring his Formula Vee race car.

Not only was the car built to run the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, it was also raced at Los Alamos NM, Deadwood SD, the Indian Springs Road race and several other hill climbs in Colorado. (Ken did get around!)

Ken Blockhan at Pikes Peak running a VW 2180 with a Rayjay turbo.

Racing requirements of the time mandated the four point roll cage over the drivers compartment, making for a sometimes odd looking race car.  Safety comes first, and the cage not only kept the driver safe when they would exit the course unexpectedly, it also was designed to keep the wildlife out of the drivers laps.  Deer, elk, big horn sheep and bears all call the mountains their home in Colorado.

Ken did his own engine upgrades over the years including the addition of a Rayjay turbo and fuel changes from gas to alcohol. 1700cc and 2180cc motors were both tried, of course bigger is always better, when at 14,115 feet in altitude.

 

 

 

Several local sponsors helped make the car a fan favorite. Bob Young’s Cabaret in Cascade CO and Hueberger VW in Colorado Springs.

Ken Blockhan at the Limestone Quarry Hill Climb 2nd place finishDuring many of Ken’s racing exploits he would strap an 8mm camera onto the cage to help him understand his driving lines. Go Pro’s camera’s are the rage today but Ken was doing this in the early 1970’s. Not only did it supply him with feedback of his driving form, it provided a great historical record of that era of racing. During a few races when he ended up off course or broken down he would unstrap the camera and take footage for friends and families that were racing .

This was the only Formula Vee race car that ever ran the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and it still survives today. Yes, you heard that right, Ken still has his race car. The car he nicknamed “The Roadrunner” over 45 years ago still gets taken out occasionally for car shows and events.

Ken Blockhan in his Formula Vee, VW powered race car. Notice the snow still on the mountain at the 1972 hill climb race.

My thanks go out Ken and the entire Blockhan family for preserving and promoting the racing history of the PPHC !

The Stillman Camaro at the Pikes Peak race

The “Stillamn Camaro” at the El Pomar Museum in Colorado Springs

The Stock Car Class

The first go around for the stock car class started at Pikes Peak in 1927 and ran until 1934. The second time around for the class wasn’t until 1956. The reformed class was popular with the fans and the manufactures.  Factory hot rods and lightweight cars took advantage of the loose enforcement of class rules (1956-65).  Noted examples, was a 1957 Chevrolet Black Widow Coupe, a factory hot rod, several Supercharged Fords, and couple of Bill Stroppe built lightweight Mercury’s . By 1966 the rules were tightened up enforcing the minimum weight requirement of 3990 pounds, keeping the factory “specials’ at bay.  Things were back in order and the cars you saw winning on Pikes Peak, you could really go out and buy at your local dealership.

Chevrolet Camaro’s and the PPHC

1st generation Camaro’s 1967-69 did not appear at Pikes Peak Hill Climb.   Reviewing the rules of the time , more then likely they would have been placed into Sports Car Class if any would have entered during that time period. The 2nd generation Camaro’s showed up in their first year of production. John Rhodes of Denver Colorado was the first to race Camaro at Pikes Peak. The week of the race, while practicing away from the Peak, John had the misfortune of rolling his brand new race car. Not letting his accident keep him down, Johnny still got his car back on the road and took fifth place in 1970 at Pikes Peak Hill Climb with a time of 15.01.  Bob Silvers would be the first to win the Stock Car Class in a Camaro in 1972. Ted Foltz would take the second Camaro win in 1975, running a 427, with a time of 13:39. Ralph Bruning would take wins in his Camaro in 1976,77,78 .

The Stillman Camaro.

The car started as a 1973 Chevy Camaro bank repro that was involved in a minor accident. That was just fine for the Stillman family, they wanted to build a race car. Basically everything on the car was sold off , except for the shell. A new 350 cubic inch motor was built by John McClintic of Albuquerque , using a brand new LT1 block, Racer-Brown cam, Isky rockers and Mogul bearings.  A highly modified Holley carb , Hooker headers with a NASCAR type extension pipes and Hays Stinger ignition, round out the motor.

The suspension up front has unique blend of parts, running Ford truck spindles, Chevrolet one ton truck upper ball joints and Chrysler Imperial lowers. Hubs were made to mount Lincoln disc brakes.  A CAE quick-change read end out back and large drum brakes.

The interior is sparse as expected. Of note is the roll cage design, there is the additional support bars around the door area.  NASCAR would in later years mandate that style of protection in all of it’s cars. The Stillman team built in that protection,  years before the rules required it, in order to keep their drivers safe at Pikes Peak.

The Stillman Camaro on display.

 

The body is basically just the outer skin of a Camaro with the doors welded shut. Nice to see the look of a vinyl top being used, which was a big fad in muscle cars coming from the factories in the 1970s. Steve Stillman, the man behind the car build, his first car was a Sunflower Yellow Chevelle with black stripes, thus all of the Stillman Camaro’s would wear the same sunflower color.

Nice family touch on each quarter panel. The hearts have the owners siblings inames on them.

Very few survive !

Only a hand full of PPHC stock car class cars survive. Bobby Unser’s Ford Torino from 1969, Frank Petersons Oldsmobile Toronado and the Stillman Camaro are the most prominent that remain. All three of those cars raced in the days when the bodies had to come from the factory, real steel cars with true factory frames designs. Finding any race cars from that era in great shape is a challenge and finding Pikes Peak raced ones are even harder.

Results

Charlie Sprague was the first to race the Stillman Camaro at the PPHC in 1973.  He qualified 10th during time trials. On race day Charlie was one of the 14 stocks cars that failed to finish. The largest “Did Not Finish” stock car class field in the mountains history. (Road conditions ?)

Dale Mewhorter had the reins in 1974. Qualified 16th but made up for it on race day with a 6th place finish and a time of 14:13.  Dale took the car to it’s best placing in 1975. Fourth place with a time of 14:09.

Go see the car !

The Stillman family would go on to build two other Pikes Peak Hill Climb Camaro’s. By 1976 this car was already outdated, with new build designs and rule changes it was easier to start on a new car then updating the 1973 car. That decision ended up being a good thing for history fans. Being the first of three PPHC cars that the Stillman’s built, and it was still in great shape, the car became a showpiece at their business . The car spent many years on display in Albuquerque and additional time at the original Hill Climb museum in Mantiou Springs, Colorado. Out of the elements and on display most of it’s life ,the first “Stillman Camaro” has aged gracefully.

In 2017 the car may of found it’s final home in the El Pomar Hill Climb Museum in Colorado Springs.  Go see it !

https://www.elpomar.org/About-Us/penrose-heritage-museum/

 

 

 

 

 

Is the history of the race “Outlawed” ?

The closest description of the environment surrounding the hill climb’s history and it’s stories, is to equate it with the history of Moonshiner’s in the southeast of the Untied States.  Many of the stories are passed down by word of mouth and are passed down from generation to generation.  An outsider wouldn’t walk up to a moonshiner and asked about the family recipe and not expected to get shot. The same seems to go with the digging into the past of the second oldest race in the country, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

Making moonshine was and still is illegal . Staying away from “The Man”, a reference to law enforcement was vital part of survival in the illegal liquor business. If you talked about your business to the wrong folks and the word got back to “The Man” things could get bad for the moonshiners. In the old days of the hill climb race, it was much the same.  Instead of “the man” to worry about you had the local race establishment or some times refereed to as “the board”.  If you said the wrong thing about the race or did something outside of “their guidelines”, you could get blacklisted or shunned for the most part.  The thrill of racing on the mountain is as addicting, as the sweet taste of moonshine. You do what you have to do, to keep “The Man’ from shutting you down.

A recent search on amazon.com has some enlightening statistics  comparing books for sale on history subjects.

  •  Moonshine                      over 1000
  • Indianapolis 500                   503
  • Pikes Peak Hill Climb             10

Some will say the results are slanted due to the “Hill Climb” being a niche market. My experience has shown there is a much larger demand for the history of the race then the number of books written. (Resale values of the few books have skyrocketed)

Whatever the underlining reason for the lack of books available, this site will still try and get as many stories of surviving cars and drivers out to the public and at no cost.

Unless, of course some time in the near future, the history of the PPHC  happens to get “Outlawed”.

Thanks again for all of the folks coming back again and again to this site. The numbers just show there is a large demand for the history of America’s second oldest racing event.  I will work harder at getting updated posts out on a more regular schedule.

 

 

 

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R at Pikes Peak in 1966

Information wanted on this Ford Shelby GT-350R at Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.Three Mustangs entered in the 1966 race.

There has been a mystery around the Ford Mustangs fastbacks that entered the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in 1966. It started with Hot Rod magazine a few years back releasing photos of three Mustangs during practice. You can check then out at the below site.

http://www.mustangandfords.com/events/1504-mustangs-at-the-1966-pikes-peak-hill-climb/

The Sports Car Class in 66 was broken down into two classes by engine size. 2999 liters or less and 3000 liters and over.  An early newspaper report mentioned that, two “Competition Cars” from California would be entered in the sports car class.  The Hot Rod magazine pictures and the mention in the paper was just about all that surfaced for many years until recently.

Car #8 Jim Good

Jim Good in his Ford Mustang fastback at the PPHC in 1966

A closer look at this photo in the Gazette Telegraph from practice week show a little more detail. Jim Good was a veteran of the Hill Climb, he raced 11 times prior in the Championship Class. Originally from Colorado Springs, later moving to Corvina California . Not many details of the car are available other then this was the #8 Mustang. It had a Thunderbolt style hood scoop, no bumpers and the strange half moon mini windshields.  Jim Good failed to qualify during practice and did not make the field  for reasons unknown.

#12 Ron Dykes Ford Shelby GT-350R

Race day line up at Pikes Peak in 1966

 

This picture has just recently surfaced, from 1966 race day. Showing a few Champ cars # 47 Vermillion and #42 Manning , with the # 12 Dykes Shelby GT and  #9 Lowderman Kurtis race car in the background.  A few details noticed from the photos on Ron’s car are the “Performance Associates ” quarter panel sponsorship and “Bay Area Auto Sales” on the front fenders. Other track photos from the time shows, Ron Dykes driving this car at other events with the same markings. The car clearly has the rear window venting, no bumpers and different lower valance of a GT-350R . Ron Dykes is listed as being from Pacific Palisades California at the time. Qualified 10th in time trails and had engine failure on race day resulting in the “Did Not Finish”

At Pikes Peak in 1966, the Ron Dykes Shelby GT

Surely there is more history out there for this car.

#2  Ford Mustang GT 350

My guess this is, this car is the second of the two “Competition Cars” mentioned in the newspaper . The car clearly is running bumpers and the factory lower valance panel and looks to be a stock Shelby Gt 350. No driver information is currently available. (I will do more digging)

Results and entries from the Sports Car Class PPHC in 1966

Entry list with handwritten timing results 1966, confirms Ron Dykes Shelby GT

Winner Ak Miller was in a Devin race car called the “Cobra Kit Car Special” with a ford 427 engine.Information Wanted

A few things would be nice to complete this story. First off , was the #12 Dykes car a true GT-350 R ? What serial number and does it still survive ? Second, did the two white with blue stripes Shelby’s come as a team and who was the second driver, and what was “Performance Associates”.

If you can help answer these questions or have additional pictures of the Mustangs in 1966 please contact me.  Thanks !

 

1971 Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak (part 2)

The 1971 Dune Buggy Class

Entry list 1971 PPHC Dune Buggies

Part one of this article talked about the reason why there was a recreational class in 1971 and the three car dune buggy team for Crown MFG and their Deserter buggies. Let’s check out the rest of the field and find out how things went.

Wally Drew

Wally was from Colorado Springs CO. He was also the local distributor of the Fiber Fab line of dune buggy bodies. The body style he used on race day was called a Clodhopper and ran a turbo charged Corvair rear mounted engine. Wally also ran several local hill climbs prior to racing Pikes Peak. A four time winner of the Mt. Buckhorn Hill Climb and also a winner of the Crystal Park Hill Climb in the same dune buggy he raced at the PPHC.  His major sponsor was Surplus City of Colorado Springs.

Top photo from race day, bottom picture was prior to the race, still wearing windshield and bumpers etc.

Bert Moore

Not much is known about Bert, he was from Salt Lake City . The car was red and white and wore the number 77. Volkswagen running gear with an unknown body type , engine is listed as Porsche.

Race day at Pikes Peak 1971 Bert Moore

Dick Rayer

Dick was from Cascade CO., at the foot of the Pikes Peak Highway. His car was sponsored by Ken’s Husky / Dick’s TV. The body was designed to follow the lines of the Can-Am series race cars of the day. The owner and builder of the car was Ken Blockhan also from Cascade. The car was powered by a mid-engine turbo charged Corvair motor.

Dick Rayer at Pikes Peak in 1971
Can-Am race style body, Corvair power

The Whitfield brothers

John was from El Paso TX and Bud from Costa Meas CA . Both active in off-road racing.  A true Meyers Manx dune buggy would be John chose with a rear mounted Volkswagen engine. He would carry car number 54 on his orange and black race car.

Bud Whitfield would be in a Deserter dune buggy carrying sponsorship from Crown MFG , no known pictures of Bud’s car from 1971 have been found and he is listed as a “Did Not Start” in some records and others have him as the last finisher. (Help solve the mystery)

Richard Munday

A Boulder Colorado resident, raced car number 43 , with a rear mounted Porsche engine.

Looks to be a Meyers Manx body

Unknown from 1971

Photograph was taken on race day in 1971, diffidently a dune buggy but not a Deserter body. Looks like a Corvair turbo engine.

Time Trails and Race Day !

First off,  the field ended up much smaller then expected , leaving the organizers some what worried about the change to recreational classes. Gates Tire Company was a major race sponsors in 1971 and they loved the dune buggy class. Several of the dune buggy drivers were involved in making a thirty minute advertising film for the tire company and were provided with as many of the “Gates Commando” tires as the needed for the entire practice week and for race day. ( If you have a copy of the film let me know )

Time trail weather was perfect and the guy with the most experience on Pikes Peak, in the class would take the win, Ted Trevor.

Time trial results for the Dune Buggy Class 1971 PPHC

As predicted, the Crown MFG team took the top spots. Overall the dune buggy qualifying times teams were not that far behind the other classes. In the Stock Car Class , Bill Daniels in a Corvette was the winner with a time of 6:11.92 and Bob Seivert in the Four-Wheel Class took the top spot with 6:11.54.  Time trials takes place from the start line to Glen Cove area, which is only the bottom third portion of the course. Race day times, would show how much the altitude effects the smaller engines at Pikes Peak. One issue of note, is the rule of not being able to compete on race day if you do not qualify . With such a small field in the dune buggy class, the powers that be, left it up to the drivers to vote if the none qualifiers , John & Bud Whitfield and Charles Wayne, should be able to run on race day. John Whitfield lost an engine during practice and wasn’t able to make the time trails. Luckily for him the group voted to let everyone run on race day.

Race day, Race Day, RACE DAY !

July 11, another great weather day. The Dune Buggy Class would be the first off.

Start line at the PPHC in 1971, Dune Buggy Class

The starting order was determined in 1971 by the fastest driver in qualifying going first and following down the line. Some times it was an advantage to going first, hoping the road would be the cleanest with the less ruts and derbies.( Sometimes not !)  Ted Trevor would be off first :

Flat tire slowed Ted into a third place finish

Reeves Callaway was off next,

Reeves Callaway at the start line 1971 PPHC

Not far into the course Reeves’s turbo broke spilling hot oil onto cylinder heads.  . “You should have seen the flames!  I stopped , jumped out and put my helmet over the flaming exhaust pipe.”  

Things were off to a bad start for the Crown Mfg. team and the dune buggy class overall.  Alex Dearborn up next :

Time of 15:56.680  good for 4th place
Dick Rayer on the way up
Dick’s time of 16.03.740 6th place

Wally Drew # 33 , below:

A little sideways and one handed, nice helmet Wally !

The seventh dune buggy to the top was Wally Drew with a time of 15:44.40 making him the fastest, up to that point.  Just one more driver to go. John Whitfield the guy that didn’t qualify and was allowed to run on race day by a drivers vote.

Winner of the 1971 Dune Buggy Class John Whitfield

With a time of 15:10.49 the winner of the FIRST and only Dune Buggy Class was John Whitfield in his Meyers Manx dune buggy running a 2180 VW motor.  (On a side note a Meyers Manx Dune Buggy also won the first Baja 1000 !)

Results for the 1971 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Dune Buggy Class

Fitting that a Meyers Manx with Volkswagen power would win the Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak. After all it was, the car that started the whole dune buggy craze. The overall class times were fairly close and the dune buggy class was competitive within itself. Compared to the other classes, Stock Car winner Ak Miller in a 1970 Mustang, with time of 14:18.61 and Four-Wheel Utility Class winner Scot Marlatt in a Jeep CJ-5, with a time 14:35.90, the buggies were slower and the field size was much smaller.

1971 would be the only Dune Buggy class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The organization would bring back the Championship Class ( Open Wheel) , in 1972, allowing VW/ Corvair sand rail type race cars to run in two classes, with divisions split by engine sizes .

Winners and losers .

One and done for the dune buggy class, but the off -road/ truck class would carry on for many years. The Pikes Peak Hill Climb has been known for trying out new innovations in racing from the beginning. Cars running tank and airplane engines, dune buggies, semi-trucks and now the electric cars and motorcycles. The Dune Buggy Class was a good idea and it attracted new drivers from California . The 1971 dune buggy drivers would go on to encourage other west coast racers, like Rick and Roger Mears, Gary Lee Kanawyer and Bill Brister to compete at future Pikes Peak Hill Climb races.  The winner would have to been the organization for being brave and bold enough to true new ideas. The loser was, sadly only one year for the Dune Buggy Class.

1971 was a good year on Pikes Peak and it started a new trend of drivers who would challenge “The Race to the Clouds’ in the future.  Roger Mears would take overall class wins in 1972 and 1973 in the new class structure beating the higher horsepower traditional upright, sprint and championship cars.  But that is another story, for now, so long and I hope you enjoyed the two part story on the 1971 Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak.

 

 

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The Pikes Peak Dune Buggy Class 1971 (part 1)

Only PPHC program to have a dune buggy on the cover

 

Newspaper articles prior to race day from 1971

Pikes Peak as a laboratory for automotive construction and experimentation.  

Big changes can result with big rewards. The folks running the 1971 hill climb race certainly were shaking up the program. Gone was the Championship Class that had ran for the last 47 years. In it’s place would be Dune Buggies, Jeeps and Motorcycles, the so called recreational vehicles of the day. The Stock Car class was still included, now called the “Late Model Stock Car” and of course, they had the largest purse.

The Baja 1000 race in Mexico had been a huge success in the late 1960s, and off-road racing was taking over the nation. Pikes Peak had been more associated with the Indy type champ cars and drivers, from almost the beginning. The stock car class was a closer mirror to what was happening in Nascar during the 1960s. Motorcycles had not been back to the hill climb race since 1955. There really wasn’t any classes for the off road racing fans at Pikes Peak Hill Climb until the big change in 1971.  Where would the new classes draw their drivers from, would this new idea even  work ?

The 1971Dune Buggy Class !

Yes, I am a VW fan, so I will be covering what happened in the Dune Buggy class for 1971.  First off, let’s look at the basic rules posted for the class.

Corvair  Porsche and Volkswagen aircooled engines only. Mid or rear engine placement. Full body with open wheels, Pump gas powered motors only and the car had to have two seats. Strange mention to a Meyers Manx type body. Nice plug for Bruce Meyers, but in 1971 there were literally hundreds of spin off body manufactures of dune buggy bodies.

(Let’s not forget that Ted Trevor and Don Wilcox had already taken dune buggies to Pikes Peak in 1966 . Quick rule changes, all but outlawed the buggies until they got there own class for 1971)

Entries for the new class.

1971 class entries Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Not as big of class as the organizers where hoping for the field. ( A class of at least twelve cars were expected ) The second surprise was the engine selection . Corvair engines with Turbo’s was the selection of most of the entries.  Ted Trevor was back and with him was a team of three Deserter dune buggies.

“Crown Manufacturing Team”

The team would consist of Ted Trevor, Alex Dearborn and Reeves Callaway.  All three would bring their own specialties to the mix. Ted was the Corvair engine wizard and owner of Crown Manufacturing.  Alex was the man behind the Deserter race cars and dune buggies and Reeves Callaway was the all around race car driver and engineering specialist.

Gazette Telegraph article July 1971

Alex Dearborn 

The following words are from Alex and his recollections on the race at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1971

Alex’s Deserter was used as a test mule for various suspension and wheel combos at the factory location

“It was a big decision for a small company like our Deserter business 
to mount a Pikes Peak effort” . 

First, there was the distance to the event, then the lack of any 
experience with engine tuning at 7-14,000 feet of thin air. The there was the cost. I had done SCCA road-racing for years, and some small hill climbs, but this was the BIG one! 

We made a deal with Ted Trevor at Crown Manufacturing in California 
(who ran a Corvair-powered Manx at the peak the year prior) to send us 
a Pikes-Peak ready Corvair engine, ready to bolt in. In exchange, we sent him 2 Deserter GS kits. We would run the three cars with Crown 
livery, as a team. We reasoned that Ted’s expertise on the 
modified Corvairs would keep us out of engine-tuning difficulties. 
The Crown engine didn’t arrive in Massachusetts until a week before we 
were to depart for Colorado. We decided to run it in on the 
Autodynamics dyno ,to make sure it was ready……and it seized! 

All the race logistics had long since been made, so we really couldn’t 
scrap the trip. I borrowed a street-tuned 1600cc VW from a customer, 
and headed to Colorado with this in the Deserter GT/GS, along with a handful of Weber jets. 
(Using his slide rule, Ray Caldwell calculated the jetting for the 
altitude, and we never changed these) 

My wife Carol and I drove out in our new Vega GT wagon, arriving a 
week ahead of the event. The new class for “VW-derived race cars” was 
full of some interesting machinery, mostly Corvair powered, and, it seemed, all pretty radical in the power department. It was daunting to survey the staging area on the morning of the first scheduled practice. In peak tradition, our group practiced 1/3 of the 12-mile hill course each of three days, all between sunrise and 8:00 , when the hill opened to the public. There 
was snow on the top by the third day, which turned out to be no big 
deal for me, since the 1600cc VW couldn’t spin those groovy Goodyears 
at 14,000 feet anyway. Each day after official practice, Carol and I 
would pay the toll and drive up in the Vega with the public, as many 
times as we could fit in. Of the 156 corners, many were blind, so the 
30 mph ones looked deceptively similar to the 80 mph ones. Go 30 
through an 80 mph corner and you lose the race. Go 80 through a 30 mph 
corner and, well, we didn’t. The course was all dirt then and no 
guard rails. Unfortunately for us the dirt was well-packed and gave 
great grip, so we could have used a lot more HP. Each evening at 
dinner, Carol would make me draw the course from memory on the place 
mats at the restaurant until I got most of the 160 corners identified. 

MY GS had run flawlessly all week, so I had the great advantage of 
being able to concentrate on learning the course. On race day, when 
the green flag fell I was about as ready as 
could be. The first car I passed was Reeves’ GS, sidelined . Other 
contestants suffered from various mechanical mishaps as well. These, 
along with some “irrational exuberance” cut the field down to size 
enough for me to finish 4th. 

The Deserter was a cut above the normal Dune Buggies of it’s day. A true tube chassis mid-engined race car. For more information on the Deserter line of dune buggies check out the Deserter Owners Group

http://www.bimelliott.com/dog.html

Reeves Callaway

Reeves’ car was much different from the other two Crown MFG team cars. The car was ran mostly in SCCA racing, prior to Pikes Peak. The non- production Deserter dune buggy body had a Group 7 type Can-Am style nose equipped. The Corvair mid mounted engine was turbo charged with water injection and a Porsche cooling fan system running a Hewland gearbox. Upon arrival at Pikes Peak adjustments in turbo boost to run at altitude and an increase in ride height had to be made.

Top Reeves Callaway at the PPHC,, bottom picture practice with the Deserter before heading to Pikes Peak in 1971

To find out more on Reeves Callaway and what he is up to in the racing world today  :

https://www.callawaycars.com/

Ted Trevor

Seven year veteran of Pikes Peak and a winner in 1966 with a Meyers Manx dune buggy. ( With a Corvair rear engine). This time around in 1971 he would be in a yellow Deserter GT running a mid engine Corvair with his companies Turbo adapter kits.  Ted was the hands down favorite going in to practice week and time trials.

Practice makes perfect and Ted wins the time trails in 1971
Ted’s Crown Manufacturing Corvair powered Deserter dune buggy still survives today. Photo from practice at Pikes Peak 1971

 

Check out part two for the remainder of the field and what happens at time trials and race day !

 

“The Gray Line”, the mountain gives back.

The 1940 Gray Line tour car line up.

 As early as 1915 there was a market for tourist travel to the summit of Pikes Peak. While many folks chose to take the Cog Rail line to the top, others wanted a more personalized and private trip to the summit by automobile.

White bus, Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac and specialty designed 1955 Chevrolet tour cars were used on Pikes Peak

The Broadmoor Hotel ran the largest stable of tour cars and ran the program through the Gray Line travel company. Earliest cars that were used began with the White Model 15-25 bus and the Pierce-Arrow cars.  Tradition dictated the drivers to stop at the halfway point for pictures at Glen Cove and for an additional charge, photographs could also be taken a summit house.

Starting in the late 1930’s the Broadmoor Hotel ordered specialty built Cadillac tour cars with a removable canvas roof.   These twelve passenger cars became a favorite with the folks wanted to take in all of the sites along the route. Additional orders continued in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the later cars no longer had the removable top but came with sunroofs featured across the top of the cars to allow for the wonderful views , while keeping the somewhat brisk temperatures at bay.

The program of producing these special cars became such a success that the Cadillac named them the “Broadmoor Skyview” .

By 1955 the cars were all painted a bright red and no longer carried the Gray Line tour company logos . They were used by the hotel for VIP guests. These 1955, 1956 and the last edition of the SkyView Cadillac in 1959 have become very collectible and a few have survived.

The Flxible Bus.

In 1954 a contact to build short wheel base tour buses was given to the Flxible Company of Londonville Ohio, for five buses . Four would go to the Pikes Peak Highway Company and an additional bus for the “Colburn Motors Tours” company also from Colorado Springs.

New buses coming to the Pikes Peak Highway in 1954
The “Flxible bus while on a rest stop on the Pikes Peak Highway.
The Broadmoor Skydview Cadillac in 1959 in bright red .
Picture shows a Broadmoor Skyview Cadillac and a Flxible bus at the summit of Pikes Peak late 1950’s

The Gray Line and Broadmoor tour drivers.

This is the part were the mountain gave back. One of the hardest parts of racing on Pikes Peak is learning the road. The so called “156 turns” can make or break a drivers time to the summit. If you wanted to know the route better as a race car driver , taking a turn as a tour car or a tour bus driver was one of the best ways to learn the course. (Some out of state competitors called it an unfair advantage for the local drivers) .  As early as 1949 Speed Age magazine interviewed successful driver Art Hillis about his knowledge of the course and that time already had 5040 trips up Pikes Peak as a tour car driver. That’s right over 5000 trips !

Best way to know the road was by being a tour car driver . Free Press newspaper 1950

 

Many race car drivers, Art Hillis, J.C. Shoemaker, Al Rogers ( over 3000), Louie J. Unser, Nick Sanborn,  Bob Finney and many more over the years could count their trips in the hundreds and thousands on the Pikes Peak Highway. .  Not only was it about learning the many turns , but also learning how the weather conditions effected the different road surfaces.

A handful survive !

The mountain took it’s toll on the equipment used in the tourist business, but the care given to the vehicles used was always first class. Several still survive today. The most prominent of the survivors is fittingly still with the Broadmoor Hotel.  A beautiful 1937 Cadillac with the roll back roof is still in their collection and is available to rent for special occasions.

The 1937 Cadillac tour car in front of the Broadmoor Hotel

 

Two of the Flxible buses survive, one is rumored to be in England and other known bus is located in the USA.  Check out this video below for more details.

 

Someone had to do it.

As long as companies were providing travel tours up to the summit of Pikes Peak,by automobile someone had to drive. Why not an inspiring race car driver !

If you have additional information, photos or stories about these tour programs please contact me. It is an important part of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb racing history.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb programs over the years.

1916 Pikes Peak Hill Climb program

In the beginning .

The first “Pikes Peak National Hill Climbing Contest” program was really spectacular  for its time.  Thirty two pages in full, with classic ads throughout. Name brands like, Cadillac, Packard, Marmon, Excelsior Autocycles, White Motor Company, Gargoyle Gasoline and many more. Luckily the PPIHC organization reprinted this program during the 100th anniversary in 2016. It is a must have souvenir program even as a reprint. One bit of trivia from the program, is the Broadmoor Hotel advertisement. The actual construction wasn’t completed when the program was printed and the drawing of the Hotel placed in the ad was for a  different design then what finally got approved and built.

The 1920s and 30s

No race from 1917-1919. When racing resumed after World War I in 1920, the program was reduced to a four page handout for the remainder of the 1920’s. Not many of the folded paper versions of the program have survived.

The 1925 PPHC program hand out.
1925 Pikes Peak Hill Climb program 4 page handout.

In 1935 once the original contract for ownership use of the road was completed, no one picked up a new contract. The wasnt a race in 1935. The local VFW (Veteras of Foreign Wars) picked up the sponsorship for the hill climb race in 1936 up until the race stopped in 1941 for WW2.  The format was more like a traditional program with a thicker cover type with more pages (6-8 pages).

1936 Pikes Peak Hill Climb program.
PPHC 1938 program

1940s

The paper handout style was used one last time in 1940. The first use of color since 1916 appeared on the cover in 1941.

missing 1946 program cover image please help

The 1950’s

The use of photography, graphics and color would signify the programs of the 1950’s. The “Princess Power” contest ladies made the cover in 1954 and the Dodge Pace Car made the cover in 1955. The first full color race car photograph cover was in 1956. (Keith Andrews). The famous PPHC fish logo, made the cover in 1957 and stayed for the last three years !

The 1960’s

The cover graphics got a little boring in the early sixties with the fish logo theme, but the wonderful cover photograph covers from 1966 and on would make up for it.

The 1970’s.

In addition to the use of photographs on the covers, several years, the covers would receive an artist touch. Note worthy covers were , Peter Helck in 1973, and Leonard Wheatley in 1977 and 1978.  Buick Pace Cars made the cover in both 1975 and 76 and the only dune buggy to ever appear on the cover was in 1971.  Artist H. Gene Yancey would finish off the decade with the cover art in 1979, including drawings inside the program of Rick Mears and the PPHC flagman Art Walsh.

The 1980’s.

What can you say about the 80’s ?? Graphics would take over most of the cover designs. Buick would once again have a Pace Car on the cover (1981), except the Indy 500 targa top pace car on the cover wasn’t used at Pikes Peak, but a more subdued T-Top car was used. Artist H. Gene Yancey did the wonderful cover in 1980. Modern computer art made the cover in 1982. There was an art contest done for the 1984 cover and the winner was Lori Pate of Littleton Colorado with her colorful tire tread design. The 1988 cover illustration was done by automotive airbrush artist Mark Westfall. My personal favorite, in the 1980s, was the 1989 cover with a Newman-Dreager open wheel race car artwork. Chevrolet provided limited edition posters to it’s dealership with that image in 1989 to celebrate some of the greatest Chevrolet wins at Pikes Peak. ( PPHC fans will notice that the car on the cover,is actually going downhill at that location on the course.)

The 1990s.

Race cars and photographs would take the majority of the covers in the 1990’s. Bill Brister in his Wells Coyote took the cover in 1990 starting the decade off with a bang. The cover artwork in 1992 was by Jim Swintal and was also used for posters that year. Those marvelous posters have become a much desired PPHC collectible.  Besides the drawing in 1971, the cover in 1994, was the first year for a motorcycle photo to make the program cover. Likewise the first semi-truck made the cover, ( Kenworth driven by Glenn Brown) in 1998. The program from the “75th Running of the Race to the Clouds” in 1997 is also a much sot after collectible for hill climb fans.

PPHC Programs available for viewing !

The Pikes Peak Library District Special Collections department has 31 programs available for the public veiwing. You can’t check them out but they have a great room to read them in and the folks are great to work with. Here is the list of what years they have and contact info.

https://pikp.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/PPLD/search/results?qu=pikes+peak+hill+climb&te=

The Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs also has around 20 programs that the Library doesn’t have. A little harder to get access too but available by appointment only. Contact info below:

Welcome to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

Did you like this blog post ?

Hope you enjoyed seeing the many years of Pikes Peak Hill Climb program covers. (If you have a picture of the 1946 program cover please contact me)

What other items from the race are you interested in besides the race cars and drivers? Posters, diecast, books, clothing etc……?

If there are enough folks responding to this post, there could be additional posts of  PPHC memorabilia in the future.  There is a bunch of stuff out there, but getting harder to find as the years go on.

Thanks for checking out the blog.  Nice to see many of you folks coming back time and time again!

Oldsmobile Toronado at Pikes Peak (part 2)

To recap part one of the story. Oldsmobile had a hit with the Toronado at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race, starting with the pre-production model testings in 1965 to the stock car class wins in 1966 and the 1-2-3 finish in 1968.

Gazette Telegraph newspaper ad from June 1969
Even the comics were advertising the Oldsmobile Toronado advantages at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1968

1969 PPHC

Nick Sanborn had the two stock car class wins with the Olds Toronado but switched to the Mercury Cyclone in 1969. When asked about the change, Nick simply replied, ‘Bigger engine”.  Four drivers would take the challenge with the Toronado’s in 1969. Frank Sanborn, Bruce Jacobi, John Rhodes and Butch Lacey.  Bobby Unser had a factory backed monster Ford Torino built by Holman-Moody-Stroppe with engine work by Smokey Yunick. From day one of practice it was going to be a race for who would get 2nd place to Mr.Unser.  As anticipated the 429 Torino would take Bobby Unser to first place in the time trials and first on race day.  The Toronado drivers had it rough on race day finishing, 6th Rhodes, 7th Peterson, 8th Jacobi and Lacey with a blown engine, “Did Not Finish”.

Was the Torondo finished at Pikes Peak , did they pass the torch over to the Fords for good?  Frank Peterson didn’t think soand he would be back with a vengeance in 1970.

Red-White and Blue !

Frank Peterson already had 3 years racing the Toronado at the Peak and a veteran of the hill climb since 1959. He already had a hand in the two previous Oldsmobile wins as a builder on Nick Sanborn’s winning Toronado’s and the other Money Olds teammates that finished 1-2-3 in 1968. The fantastic patriotic red, white and blue paint job on his 1969 Toronado would take him to his first stock car class win in 1970. Believe it or not at the time some people did not like Frank using the flag as a paint theme on his car in 1970. He definitely started a trend, and by 1976 the majority of the race cars on the Peak carried a patriotic theme. (In my opinion it is one of the best paint schemes to ever race the mountain.) Dick Harris and rookie Jerry King would also drive Toronado’s in 1970.

1970 PPHC

Nick Sanborn still in his Mercury, would take the first spot in time trails in 1970 with Frank Peterson and his Olds in second. Race day would finally see Frank Peterson get his stock car class win and the Oldsmobile Toronado was back in the top spot. The bad news, the two other Toronado’s driven by Dick Harris and Jerry King did not finish on race day.

Frank Peterson ads after winning the 1970 Pikes Peak Hill Climb in his Oldsmobile Toronado

Even the model car companies got on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Toronado band wagon. These models bring big bucks at online auction sites.

The 1970 PPHC winning Toronado race car lives !

Frank retired the Toronado in 1971 and the car remained in storage for decades. Mechanically the car was still in good shape but the paint job needed help. Level One Restorations of Arvada Colorado would get it looking like new once again. Check out their work on the Toronado at :

https://levelonerestoration.com/portfolio-view/pikes-peak-hill-climb-1969-toronado/

Muscle Car Enthusiast magazine did a full feature on the car after the restoration. The article can be seen at Frank’s own site,  “Lakewood Manufacturing”. While you are there check out his other Pikes Peak Hill Climb cars.

http://www.frankpetersonlmc.com/Petersons_-_Muscle_Car.pdf

 

I was fortunate to spend some time with the car this summer at the Hagerty Insurance open house.

The 1970 PPHC Stock Car Class trophy on display with the car
The seat and pedals were moved towards the center of the car for better weight distribution.

 

Larger then stock radiator and custom made Hooker Headers
Nice touch in engine compartment next to the coolant overflow was a military ammo can full of lead weight and engraved with crew members initials

Thank you Frank and Kaye Peterson and Hagerty Insurance for a great time.

Last gasps for the Toronado at Pikes Peak.

Jerry King the Rookie of the Year in 1970 would go on to run his Oldsmobile Toronado until 1972 . Bob Fling would make history by running the fastest time of any of the Toronado drivers with a 14:17.16 in 1972 which by that time, was only good enough for 7th place. Two others Rudy Proctor, 11th place finish and Jerry King “DNF” ran Toronado’s in 1972.   That was the last of the breed to compete in the Race To the Clouds.

Overall in seven years from 1966 to 1972 the Oldsmobile Toronado would take THREE overall wins in the Stock Car Class, TWO second place finishes ONE 3rd and ONE forth place finish. (Not too bad). Ten different drivers in seven years and the fastest time of 14: 17.  The car may of had a short time frame racing on Pikes Peak, but it  definitely made an impact. To this day when folks are asked about the top ten all time cars of the PPHC, Frank’s Toronado seems to come up on everyone’s list.

If you have additional information or photographs of the Toronado’s racing at the Pikes Peak hill Climb , please comment or email me. Thanks !

The Oldsmobile Toronado at Pikes Peak (part 1)

The beginning of the Toronado Legand at Pikes Peak.

Most folks associate the Oldsmobile Toronado and Pikes Peak with the winning, red white and blue race car driven by Frank Peterson in 1970. In fact it started much earlier with Bobby Unser and Oldsmobile in 1965.

At that time General Motors management was still enforcing the “anti- racing” ban. Ted Louckes assistant head of experimental engineering at Oldsmobile side stepped that policy by undertaking a quest to set a new stock car record at Pikes Peak. After all a hill climb wasn’t necessarily a race, just a simple timed event and thankfully GM’s upper management allowed it. What better way to show the advantages of front wheel drive and Oldsmobile performance then racing up to the summit of Pikes Peak. Chevrolet had used Pikes Peak several times in the past to bolster the brands image. In 1936 with their new truck line, then again in 1955 with the new Bel Air and latter with the CERV1 testing. They also had an ace in the hole with a special driver lined up to help testing. In the 1960’s there wasn’t a better test driver on Pikes Peak then Bobby Unser. Rather then running on race day, Old’s set up private testing date using a pre-production model Toronado with a 425 Rocket  V-8 and automatic transmission. Official timing was provided by USAC and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb organization . Car and Driver magazine ran a four page article on the Toronado Pikes Peak testing feat in the March 1966 issue. ( Cheap on eBay). Video is also available at :

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2odiba 

( Sorry about the music track on that video)  Bobby Unser helped Oldsmobile get the most out of the Toronado pushing the car to it’s limits and getting a best time of 14:09.9  just seventeen seconds short of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb stock car class record. Overall it was considered a great success.  The upcoming PPHC in 1966 would see two Toronado’s compete on race day.

1966 the first Toronado win .

Money Oldsmobile a local dealership would sponsor two cars for the 1966 PPHC. Nick Sanborn and Louis Unser both hill climb veterans, were the drivers. An early press release from the PPHC stated “The front wheel drive feature of the Oldsmobile Toronado could prove to be a real advantage to Nick Sanborn since he drives up the “Peak” with one of his rear wheels hanging over the side most of the time”  Both cars were set up by Frank Sanborn (Nick’s twin brother) and Frank Peterson of Denver

Louis Unser in a Olds Toronado in 1966
Nick Sanborn PPHC Money Olds Toronado.

On race day Nick would take the stock car class win with a time of 14:36 and 70 year old Louis Unser had to struggle without power steering after losing a belt early on the course but he still made it to the top in 15:51 good enough for 4th place.

Mobil Oil ad photo with Nick Sanborn at finish line in 1966

1967 the good and the bad

Three Toronado’s were entered for 67. Nick Sanborn and the “Old Man of the Mountain” Louis Unser were in the Money Olds dealership cars, built by the Sanborn brothers. A third car built and driven by Frank Peterson with sponsorship by Windish Motors of Denver. All three were fast during practice and time trials. Race day brought “DNF’s” with engine failures for both the Money Olds entries. The good news for the Toronado’s ,was Frank Peterson taking second place with a time of 14:35.  Frank left the start line with less then a full tank of gas and had fuel starvation issues that caused the car to cut out in the switchbacks. Frank’s Toronado minus the fuel issues would have easily taken 1st place in 1967. Factory gas tanks in those days had poor baffling that allowed the gas to slosh from side to side which left the fuel pickup high and dry during those hard turns.

1st-2nd and 3rd in 1968 !

The Money Oldsmobile team fielded three cars in 68. Nick Sanborn, Frank Peterson and rookie Bob Fling. A forth Toronado was entered by Bruce Jacobi from Speedway Indiana.

Oldsmobile Toronado 1-2-3 at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

Race day was a sweep for the Toronado’s . 1st 2nd and 3rd out of a field of 20 cars. Nick Sanborn took his fifth PPHC win with his time of 14:23.  One thing about the stock car results from 1955-1965 was the minimum weight requirements per cubic inch rules were not being enforced. By the time the Toronado hit Pikes Peak technical inspections included weigh ins that kept the factory light weight cars out. The Oldsmobile Toronado came in with 9.36 pounds per cubic inch with the 427 or a required 3990 pounds. The earlier stock class record of  13:52 by Parnelli Jones in 1964 was with a  factory light weight Mercury Marauder. (There was no enforced weight per cubic inch rules during the 55-65 years)

Oldsmobile advertising celebrating the Toronado wins
Columbus shocks ad from the 1968 Pikes Peak Hill Climb with a Olds Toronado

1968 was a good year for the Oldsmobile Toronado at Pikes Peak.

Be sure to read part 2 of the “Toronado Legend of Pikes Peak” and find out about the years 1969 and up and the Frank Peterson surviving race car.

Thanks for checking out this Pikes Peak racing blog and feel free to leave comments, questions or suggestions. I don’t bite !