Jaguar prowls at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race (part one)

First Sports Car Class in 1953


Not sure if  Mrs. Penrose had anything to do with it or not. But she had one of the earliest Jag’s in Colorado. On the right is her car in front of her husband’s Broadmoor Hotel in 1950. The first Sports Car Class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb would be held in 1953 under the sporting code provided by the Federation International  De L’ Automobile and sanctioned by the American Automobile Association. (AAA).  Wow, that’s a mouth full !

Only three cars would be in that first class and all Jaguars . Robert Carnes who would later go on to manufacture the famous BoCar line of fiberglass sports cars, would be driving a XK-120 coupe carrying the number “1”.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb race 1953. Bob Carnes, Jaguar XK-120

Gueraro Piffard would be in a XK-120 drophead coupe and would carry number 13.

Race day 1953 at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Frank Bramley from Denver Colorado would carry number “3” on his metallic bronze XK-120 coupe. During time trails Frank would slid off the road on a curve just a mile from the start line ending up on his top. The car would have the roof dents popped out and was ready by race day.

Results PPHC 1953

  1. Frank Bramley  19:47
  2. Robert Carnes    20:33
  3. Guerard Piffard 20:80

The cars were mush slower then the traditional open wheel cars that the crowds were accustomed too. In the Championship Class Louis Unser in a Kurtis KK4000 took the overall win with a time of 15:15 and the slowest car came in 20th place with a time of  17:01.  Not the best start for the Sports Car Class.

You can just see a glimpse of the metallic bronze color on Frank’s Jaguar behind Unser’s yellow Kurtis

If anyone has color pictures from the 1953 race please email me. The pic above is the only one I have seen.

1953 Sports Car Class trophy

If you are in Colorado Springs swing by and check out the PPHC museum. They not only have the 53 trophy , they also have an engraved belt buckle from Frank’s win in 1953. For more information on the museum:

One thing of note from the race in 1953, Bob Carnes would go on to race in the Buffalo Bill Hill Climb outside of Golden Colorado in the same Jaguar winning in 1953. In later years he swapped the Jag motor out for a V-8 from a Cadillac and named his car the ” Jagillac”  .

The Sports Car Class was not continued at Pikes Peak in 1954 but it would come back in 1958.


1958 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Sports Car Class.

By 58 sports cars of all types were racing at tracks around the county and there was a new demand to have them back at Pikes Peak.

Sports Car Class at the 1958 PPHA

As you can see the competition had made leaps and bounds since the 1953 class. A Porsche 356 driven by Bill Paine, a first at Pikes Peak and Bob Carnes was entered with his newly designed Bocar.  Bill Rutan a record holder at the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in a Volvo and four powerful Corvettes including Bob Hall with his fuel injected Vette.. The Jaguars would have a tougher time this go around. Frank Bramley was back hoping to best his time from 1953 (19:47) and Paul Kingley brought another XK-120 Jag to compete. The favorite going into race day had to be Ak Miller in his Chevy V-8 powered Devin called the “Hot Rod Magazine Special” . New for 1958 was the requirement to have a roll bar for driver protection. The early attempts at what that meant at that time, seem laughable today but improvements in safety had to start somewhere.

Paul Kingsley number “0” gassing up at the “Official” Mobil station for the 1958 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race .Notice the low square rollbar

Time trails and practice were uneventful for the Jaguars,  Paul qualified in 7th and Frank was 10th fastest. The large difference in cubic inches was apparent through out the field.  Race day would see the large V-8 fiberglass cars at the top. Ak Miller taking first with a time of 15:23.7 . The smaller displacement cars brought up the rear. Of those Frank Bramley in his XK-120,would improve on his 1953 winning time taking 7th place with a 17:20.7 beating all of the foreign sports car . Paul Kingsley time of 20:23.8 was good enough for 10th, beating Bill Paine in his Porsche 356, at 21:26.1 and the Austin-Healey driven by Ray Rowe in last place with a time of 24:08.

The Jaguar XK-120s time at Pikes Peak had met it’s end, but the good news was Bobby Unser in his modified 3.8 liter Jaguar engined open wheel car. He took the Championship Class win setting a new overall record time of 13:47.9 , shocking the old guard who loved their V-8 powered cars. That would be the only other year for a Jaguar powered car to be in the winners circle at Pikes Peak. ( Frank in 1953, and Bobby in 1958)

The early years for Jaguar at Pikes Peak could be called a hit or miss. With only Jaguars in the first sports cars class in 1953 somewhat tarnishes the win. Frank and the other smaller motor XK-120’s just couldn’t compete with the new breed of sports cars entering the hill climb. Luckily Bobby Unser carried the flag for Jaguar in 1958 with his custom engined championship car. Rule changes in 1959 would split the sports car class into three groups by engine displacement, helping to level the playing field somewhat.

D-Type Jaguar hot rods at Pikes Peak !

Stay Tuned for part two of the Jaguar story at Pikes Peak and find out about the D-Type Jaguars that raced in the early 1960s and more .





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