E.E. Nichols owner of the Cliff House in Manitou Colorado threw down the challenge. A $1,000 bet, to be the fastest “Hotel” race car in the 1926 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The three largest hotels in the region at the time was, The Acacia, The Broadmoor and the Cliff House. All three hotel owners knew their cars didn’t have what it took for an overall win, so the side bet was good fun and great advertisement. The purse for first place overall in the PPHC was $2,000, so the $1,000 on the hotel challenge was a big deal.
The new Penrose Trophy was also big news. A mammoth silver bowl of unique design, four feet tall, of the finest quality from Europe, that was to replace the original Hill Climb trophy that the Lexington Motor Company took permanent possession after the 1924 race . This new trophy would be loaned to the overall winner each year and returned . A lesson learned from the original trophy. No one at the time, 1916, considered that the same team could win overall four times. (Trophy was not brand new at the time and is believed to now be over 150 years old )
The Hotel Challenge cars and drivers
The Broadmoor’s “Yellow Devil” was the closet to an actual race car. . It was a 1918 Pierce-Arrow. Right hand drive with a long wheel base (116 inches) and very heavy, This was Spencer Penrose’s personal car at one time and stripped down for racing. Driven by Harry McMillen, who also ran the car in the 1922 Hill Climb.
The “Cliff House Special” driven by Bill Trammel was a stripped down short wheel based Packard passenger car. Basically anything you didn’t need was taken off.
Claude Wright would be taking the wheels of the “Acacia Hotel Special” This car was also a stripped down Packard, but a longer wheel base version . A disadvantage on Pikes Peaks winding road. Strangest looking of the three but having the most pep in it’s motor.
All three cars still ran the factory wooden wheels and built from large touring cars. Horsepower advantage went to the Acacia, experience to the Broadmoor and bravos to the Cliff House.
Practice and show time.
Lined up in front of the Pikes Peak Highway office in Colorado Springs prior to practice. Left to right, Acacia Spl, Cliff House Spl, Broadmoor Spl. Local fans were having a good time with the rivals prior to practice days. To this day fans still get a chance to check out the PPHC cars prior to race day. The downtown event is now called “Fan Fest” and brings tens of thousands of race fans to see the cars and drivers up close prior to race day.
Practice went well for Harry McMillen in the Yellow Devil with a forth fastest time. Bill Trammel in the Cliff House car, spin out the night before practice and damaged his car, if parts are not found may not make it to race day. Claude Wright and the Acacia Special were absent from practice, perhaps concealing their performance until race day. (no longer allowed)
The Winner of the 1926 Hotel Challenge is…………..
Overall winner of the race was Glen Shultz in the Stutz Special with a time of 18:19.4
The times for the Hotel Challenge were :
………………………………….. 21:43 4th overall
…………………………………. 23:54 5th overall
………………………………… 25:25 6th overall
Not the closest in time, but 4-5-6th overall was a good showing.
Who was the winner of the “1926 Hotel Challenge” .Contact me and I will let you know the rest of the story