The first rear engine Championship Class car at the PPHC.

The Lotus Blossom 

The rear engine revolution was already in effect at the Indianapolis 500 race by 1963. Not to be left behind, Burt Blanot built a rear engine car known as the “Lotus Blossom” to run at the 1964 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Gazette Telegraph 6-21-1964

Testing a car for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race has always been an issue. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s running on  a dirt oval track was thought to be the best way to work out the bugs in a new car. The Lotus Blossom was terrible in the corners at the oval tracks,  but could pass the whole flock on the straight aways.  Circle track racing was just too hard on the car and testing remained limited for 1964

Thanks go out to the BCRA for this picture !

The car ran a fuel injected 327 Chevrolet V-8,  saddle bag gas tanks, Jaguar rearend,  Airheart brakes and a nose mounted radiator. In the beginning the car would constantly break the rear axles.  Thanks to Bobby Unser’s advice on how to properly heat treat the axles  the problem was quickly resolved.

Lotus Blossom at the 1964 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race

The Team 

Burt Blanot and son Bertie ran a automotive parts and engine machining shop in Colorado Springs Co. ” Burt’s Auto and Engine Supply” . (Just closed in 2017)  They were also owners of many successful, stock , sprint  and midget  race cars. Orville Nance  a full time crane operator for “Wicker Transfer”, was one of his race car drivers and also a eight time veteran of Pikes Peak .

1964 PPHC debut .

There was twenty race cars entered in the Championship Class at Pikes Peak in 1964 . Handling problems during practice plagued the Lotus Blossom team the car qualified middle of the pack in  ninth . Bobby Unser was fastest by far,  during practice with brother Al Unser not far behind in the now famous Conze “Downtube” car .  The rear engine car was getting lots of attention. On race day things didn’t go as planned,  an engine failure after Orville hit a bank below 16 mile,  kept the car from making it to the summit.  It was a rough year but the door was opened for the rear engine race cars at Pikes Peak Hill Climb  and the Burt Blanot- Orville Nance team was the first.

Gets better over time.

The Lotus Blossom ran Pikes Peak for the next six years. Orville Nance raced it from 1964 until 1968.  Bob Herring took over as driver in 1969 and rolled it during practice his first year, but the team got it going again and was fourth in class on race day. The car’s last year was in 1970 with Bob again behind the wheel, recording the cars fastest time of 13;04.2 and it’s best finish of 3rd in class.

Orville Nance at the 1966 Pikes Peak Hill Climb (new nose vent for better cooling)
Orville Nance driving the Lotus Blossom during the 1967 PPHC. (notice new injector stacks)
Lotus Blossom at Pikes Peak in the team’s signature ” Blanot: Blue”

The car survives and needs your help !

What remained with much needed.
After sandblasting

A non-profit organization is attempting to put this car back together as a static display. With it being the first rear engine car at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb it is worth saving.  As with any old race car, several parts are missing and additional help and information is needed. If you have pictures of this car or knowledge of the original build please contact me and I will pass the information on.  (Parts donations accepted as well,  a Chevy 327 block is needed )

*What kind of radiator was used ? *  2 speed transmission type ? *Gauge set up and type ?

Thanks for reading my posts and I am working on getting better functionality to the site soon. Hope you enjoyed learning about the first rear engine car to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb, the “Lotus Blossom”

2 thoughts on “The first rear engine Championship Class car at the PPHC.”

    1. Unfortunately not the first overall , the powers that be, back in the day, didn’t really count things in the sports car class. The Lotus Blossom was the first in a Championship cars. Actually Bill Paine drove a Porsche in the Sports Car Class at the hill climb in 1958. He gets the credit of the overall honor of being the first rear engine. Robert Donner Jr. was the first with a mid-engine driving Porsche RSK in 1960.

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