“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!

View the early years 1916-1920s through newspaper ads .

“14,109 feet above sea level, 120 turns, 12 1/2 miles”

Chalmers ad from the 1916 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

1916 PPHC

The first race was split over two days. Motorcycles raced on day one and automobiles day two. On the second day there was three events. The cars were divided in two events by engine size and the third event was a “Free for All” and considered the main event with the Penrose Trophy going to the winner.

Local General Goods store in Colorado Springs newspaper ad from the 1916 PPHC race

A strange ad from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver Colorado prior to race day. The Briscoe Motor Company was banned . (?)

Briscoe Motor Company ad

With three events more then one car company had the ability to claim to be the winner of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. While some hide the fact,  others went as far as listing which event they won.

The Hudson Super-Six ” You don’t care to climb Pike’s Peak at the speed the Super-Six showed it could”

1917 Stromberg Carburetor ad from the PPHC in 1916

WW2 halts the race in 1917,1918, 1919 

Lexington wins in 1920 !

Denver Colorado Lexington Dealership ad from the 1920 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race

1921 King Rhiley wins 

Hodson wins at the 1921 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The ad above was the first ad in the local newspapers that used a race photograph instead of a drawing or dealer image. The ad mentions the victory in the snowstorm and also refers to the Hudson’s win in 1916. The ad below for the Lexington shows a more typical drawing based ad, with a very nice representation of the road to the summit.

Lexington ad from the 1921 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

1922 PPHC “Official Ambulance” 

1922 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race Official Ambulance ad
Not something you see everyday. A law firm sponsoring the ambulance for the 1922 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. The ad was from the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs Colorado. (If you can identify the make of the ambulance , let me know)  Another point of interest is the “Westinghouse Shock Absorbers” . 

The Ford hot rod driven by Noel Bullock made a huge splash in 1922 winning the race overall.  Western Auto Supply Company from Denver Colorado used the”Rajo Head’ PPHC win in their ad. To the right, a local Ford dealer featured him in their 1922 ad haling the first win ever for a 4 cylinder at Pikes Peak.

1923 PPHC

One of my favorite ads from the early 1920’s from the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

1923 Parco Gasoline ad for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Nice to see several pictures of the race cars and drivers. Seeing the early service station is nice too.

insert from 1923 PPHC Parco Gas ad
insert from Parco ad

1924 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The Lexington camp went all out in 1924 taking the overall win and being awarded permanent possession of the Penrose trophy. The local Triangle Gasoline station took out this amazing advertisement to honor the win.

Below, the first Firestone Tires ad at Pikes Peak was in 1924

1923 Firestone Tire ad from the 1924 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Below is a rare photograph showing the local Firestone Tire Shop in Colorado Springs. The winning Lexington race car is at his shop.! Hard to see, but that is also the Penrose trophy to the right of the Earl Udick. Great period photograph.

Hope you enjoyed seeing this group of advertisements from the 1920s.

If you would like to see additional ads from other decades contact me with what years you are interested in and I can put something together for the most popular requests.

Oshkosh Nebraska and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The small town of Oshkosh Nebraska (population 884), has a unique tie to the hill climb race and a local artist Lauren Olson has just finished one of her murals to honor it’s past.

Artist and teacher.

Lauren Olsen is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and Art Educator with the Garden County School District, teaching K-12 students, and has been ushering a new era of  “Art in the Community” around the Oshkosh area. One of her murals finished in June of this year is helping to teach the history of a local family.

Check out Lauren at her website to see more of her other work.

https://www.laurenolsonart.com/

Pikes Peak and King Rhiley Sr.

Yes, “King” was really his first name, but he also was called the “King of the dirt track speed demons” for his domination of the early racing in western Nebraska. His racing career started in 1912 at the Box County Fair after becoming an Oakland automobile dealer in Oshkosh. He would go on to win over 50 races in the next 16 years.

His first trip to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb came in 1921. By the time he was ready for the hill climb, he was a Hudson Motor Company agent and brought a highly modified Hudson Super Six to the Peak. There would be three races called “Events”, in 1921. King was entered in the last event number 3, for the non-stock cars with engine displacements over 300 cubic inches. The largest payout of $500 and the Penrose trophy was given to the winner of this race. During the 5-6 practice runs taken by Rhiley his tires were in dire need of replacement. By a triumph of good sportsmanship, the Lexington Motor Company who was the previous year winning team provided King Rhiley with the tires he would need on race day from there own inventory. Pikes Peak was known to put a year worth of wear on a cars tires during one race run. On race day King would be the fastest of all events, with a time of  19:16 and besting the times of both Lexington team drivers racing in event number 2, on their own tires.

 

At the finish line at the summit of Pikes Peak in 1921. King Rhiley in his Hudson Super Six
Colorado Springs Hudson dealership advertisement 1921. King Rhiley

 King Rhiley at the 1922 and 1923  PPHC

The word was out, thanks to King Rhiley’s efforts, oval dirt track race cars could be competitive at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The large manufactures with their big heavy cars and large race support teams were in trouble. Another Nebraskan dirt track driver, Noel Bullock would also be racing against King Rhiley in 1922. (Check my other posts for more info on Noel Bullock)  Both drivers had very light weight, stripped down cars, who some would call jalopies or even freak cars.  The facts would show that those lighter cars with better horsepower to weight ratio would lead to faster times climbing Pikes Peak.  King Rhiley was again running in the main event number three and would take first place with a time of 20:05, but Noel Bullock , in event number one with a time of 19:50 would have the fastest time of the day,taking the overall 1922 win. That made it two years in a row that an independent driver with a stripped down car took the glory.

The big teams were screaming after two years of embarrassment, things would have to change in 1923. Rules were added that require cars to meet a MINIMUM weight for each class. That didn’t bother either Nebraskan drivers, they would gladly add additional weights to their cars to complaint with the changes.  When that rule change didn’t keep certain drivers out, last minute efforts were taken to remove them. Just days before the race, the A.A.A. (American Automobile Association), who was the ruling body for the Pikes Peak race, blacklisted both King Rhiley and Noel Bullock for running in unsanctioned racing events. Many of the smaller dirt oval tracks in the Midwest at the time were running without the AAA blessings due to the high membership cost. If drivers wanted into a AAA event, they had to agree not to race in any unsanctioned racing contests. With the last minute barring, and with little time remaining to protest, it effectively kept both drivers out of the 1923 PPHC. Records will show their entries were accepted but later changed to withdrawals. Neither would ever race Pikes Peak again. The politics of racing at Pikes Peak, sadly, will show it’s dark side a few times more over the years.

Back to the Mural !

As you can see the left side is King Rhiley and his Hudson at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, the right side is his son King Rhiley II. and his Piper.

Lauren Olson mural in Oshkosh Nebraska

King Rhiley II

King Rhiley Jr was born just a few days before his farther won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in September 1921. He is known as a daredevil who drove fast cars and was pilot.  Rancher, farmer, real estate broker and appraiser, but mostly known as the manager of the Oshkosh Municipal Airport and aerial crop dusting, logging more than 20,000 hours of flying. The locals knew him as a gifted pilot who known for buzzing his friends with in his airplane and on occasion landing on the nearby dirt roads to take much needed bathroom break while crop dusting. He was also a hot rodder. When not working he could be found working on cars and tinkering with airplane parts. The family building the mural is painted on, had one of the early Clayton Dynamometers used for measuring automotive horsepower, mounted into the floor. A true hot rodder’s tool  (Notice the ” Rhiley’s Dyno Service” sign on the building front on the first photograph). The aircraft in the mural  is King Rhiley Jr’s Piper Pawnee Spray plane.

Thank you !

The idea of recording local history in the form a mural is a wonderful thing to do. It will help develop dialogue between kids, families, neighbors and people passing through town and at the same time honoring the generations of those who have gone before us. Lauren Olson and the Rhiley family have done a great job keeping history alive and Pikes Peak Hill Climb fans from around the world thank you !

 

 

 

2017 Tire Testing part II

its been a busy two weeks. The weeks leading up to the PPIHC tends to bring out old photos and scrapbooks.  In the last few weeks a total of fifteen scrapbooks have found their way to my home from several folks. it is an honor to to be able to walk the hill climb journey through the eyes of its’ past competitors and families.  Thank you all !

The icing on the cake so far this week has been this photograph, that has surfaced from the 1921 race.

This was J.C. Williamson in his Allen race car. An Allen race car who knew ?  Two Allens’ raced in 1921 Pikes Peak Hill Climb and Mr. Williamson in car number four, took second place in Event II. Seeing how they recorded the times back then, always brings a smile to my face. 22:49 and 3/5 seconds. Great photo and the only one I have seen of the Pikes Peak Allen cars.

Tire Testing part II

The second week of tire testin,g June 10-11th had better weather as predicted.  There was a lot of wind for the motorcycles on the upper section practice.Thankfully there were no major accidents during either week .

( Week one did have an open wheel car that went off badly and trimmed a few trees. But the car was  back the next day due to an outstanding crew and the great safety features built into the car to protect the driver ).

The road was in good shape and fast on the lower section but the “Perma-Bumps” ( permafrost melt waves)  were more pronounced on the upper section this year. The Pikes Peak Highway maintenance crews began paving repairs just days after testing, should be in good shape by practice week.

Biggest take away from tire testing for me was the motorcycle battles. Codie Vahsholtz was fast on his Husqvarna in middle weight class and Davey Durelle as expected was fastest in lightweight on his Aprilla. The mountain for many years was refereed to as “Durelle’s Peak”, in the motorcycle world, instead of Pikes Peak.  Nice to have him back. The big battle at tire testing turned out to be Bruno Langlois, last years winner, on his 2017 Kawasaki,  being ganged up on by three KTM Super Duke 1290s  of  Rennie Scaysbrook, Shane Scott and Chris Fillmore.  Bruno had the fastest time for the upper section but Rennie got fast time on the lower section.  The heavyweight battle this year is going to be fun to watch.

Check out tire testing results at

https://speedhive.mylaps.com/  

and enter Pikes Peak in the search bar.

(They only provide times for the lower section practice leg from start line to Glen Cove. cars Saturday and bikes Sunday)

On a side note, 2017 will have the most Porsche entries in the history of the race with EIGHT entered.  You can see the complete competitors lists at :

http://www.ppihc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017-PPIHC-Competitor-List.pdf

 

I will try to update the site more often with 2017 race news and past history.

Bear with me as this website/computer stuff is all fairly new, to this gray-bearded guy. Thanks  you for your patience !

Noel Bullock 1922 (part 2) Pikes Peaks’ first Hot Rod .

Noel Bullock 1922 Pikes Peak race

( If you haven’t read part one jump down and catch up.)

Race to the Clouds 1922

Prior to race day hardly a mention of Noel Bullock made the newspapers. The weather was bad the night before the race and left the upper section in muck. Early hours on race day was described as “Crimpy (?), but soon the sun dispelled the chills”.    Three events were run that day and event number one which Noel was entered , he would take the fastest time of the day. 19:50.4. The only person to break in the the nineteen minute mark in 1922 and the fastest every for a event number one small engine class car. King Riley in the large motor class, the 1921 winner came close with a time of 20:05 in event three for the large displacement cars .

Results form the Gazette Telegraph 1922 PPHC

 Shock and Awe and the press.

The overlooked kid from Nebraska, would now get his due in the press, sort of. “Tho Veteran of Dirt tracks” was a dig on unauthorized racing. The factory teams didn’t compete in such trivial things like dirt track racing. How dare they, those circle track boys think they can compete with the high and mighty. factory teams in a real race such as Pikes Peak. Another headline would read, “Nebraska” Kid Mechanic” built Flivver out of Junk, Won Pikes peak Hill Climb”, ….another,  “Aviator, in first road race”tho Veteran of Dirt Tracks” overcomes huge handicap’,  One more from the Gazette Telegraph, 9-5-1922,  “Bullock Upsets Dope, closely followed by Rhiley and Abbott” , under the main headline in large letters, ‘King Wins First Place in Large Car Class”

Ford Dealership ad from 1922 PPHC

A local Ford dealership would take advantage of the Noel Bullock win. Didn’t matter that it was a salvage yard built car with parts from several vehicle, and driven by a dirt track racer. The old Nascar saying “Win on Sunday Sale on Monday” , way before there was a even national stock car racing association.  The establishment had been shocked on race day for sure, but the following day would send chills down their spines. Reporters asked Noel about the knowledge he gained yesterday of conditions to be met on the course and if he would be returning in 1923.,  Noel commented that he he would return with his car built to hold the road better and capable of cutting down his winning time and declared  ” Next year I’ll break the record”

The new rules for the 1923 Hill Climb race

The American Automobile Association (AAA) made the rules in the establishment racing world and in the 1920s was in a battle with dirt track racing. They controlled the contest board for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. There would be major changes designed to keep out the lightweight home built cars from competing in the 1923 race. Minimum weight requirements would be added to each class. no longer would a smaller (lighter) higher powered car have an advantage.  The two Nebraskan, Noel Bullock and King Riley were not worried, they offered to add weights to their cars in order to compile with the rule changes. Just weeks before the race the AAA blacklisted the two drivers, for driving in unsanctioned racing events.  The only AAA sanctioned race in Colorado was Pikes Peak. No local driver could afford to build a race car that could only be used once a year. The rule, up until 1923 had never been enforced . The timing of the the banishment just weeks before the PPHC left the drivers with little time in order to get reinstated.  The local politics of racing the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for some is still apparent today.   Glen Shultz in the “Essex Specia”l would go on to win the 1923 race with a time of 18:47.3

The last laugh belongs to Noel !

Noel Bullock started his racing career in Colorado, in 1918 and , later moved to California where he started an automotive parts and machine shop. On the west coast he would also continue his racing ways. Noel  was inducted in the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame in August of 2000

Automobiles were not his first love, it was the world of aviation. At a young age, like his father, he was also a pilot.  Prior to racing Pikes Peak in 1922, Noel was working at a flying school in North Platte Nebraska.  later he would be involved with commercial aviation , aircraft mail delivery and even his own airport in Nevada, that supported the making of the Hoover Dam.

Bullock Airport Boulder City Nevada

WAIT, there is more !

Thankfully the story doesn’t end.  The car that Noel won the PPHC in 1922 is still alive. Thanks to Rick Rawlins who found the car, or you could say piles of  parts  from the car on a Nebraskan farm.  Mr Rawlins not only restored the car to better then raced condition ,but he also took it to a few vintage races and ran the “Old Liz” before loaning the car to the El Pomar PPHC Museum in Colorado Springs.  The car looks great and garners much attention.

1922 PPHC winner, Noel Bullock Ford Spl.

One of things that stands out about the car to me, is the steering wheel, drivers seat and the metal windshield visor are all on the far left side. Could be the earliest circle track designed surviving car with those features. Still has the Dayton wire wheels, Rajo head and its Warford trans.

Amazing after racing 90 plus years and its still with us. Thanks all around to everyone who helped keep this small part of Nebraskan and PPHC history with us today.

 

Noel Bullock 1922 part one. Pikes Peaks’ first Hot Rod.

Would history repeat itself at Pikes Peak.

The first Pikes Peak Hill Climb race was in 1916. The concept was to have the top automotive manufactures and race car builders from around the world compete for the best time to the summit.  The first race was won by Rea Lentz in the Roman Special a little homemade race car running an aircraft engine.   That was unexpected !  In 1920 and 1921 things would go more to the script ,with a large Lexington Motor Company race car winning in twenty and a large touring Hudson race car the following year. The big names were ready to do it again in 1922.  Hudson, Essex, Lexington  and Pierce-Arrow race cars filled the entry list.  Way down the list of twenty seven entries, the 24th entry actually , was Noel Bullock from North Platte Nebraska.   his race car was listed as a  Ford Spl.

Who is this and what is it ??

Newspaper accounts hardly even mention Noel Bullock prior to race day. Not that it was the reporters fault entirely, Noel didn’t make it in time for early week practice or the time trails on Friday . Just days before the race he was still rebuilding his motor and would have to drive the race car, the 300 plus miles from North Platte Nebraska to Colorado Springs for the event.  Saturday would be the first day for Noel to check out the course  and he only took one trip up to the summit and had trouble with the transmission and had to go back down and make repairs.  Folks were still wondering the who part, but  his race car was getting the most attention and plenty of comments like,    “What is that !”  “She looks like a cross between a kiddie kar and a push mobile” “That’s a tin can”  “Is that a tin Lizzy” “It’s a flivver” and on it went.  Yes, fans and rivals can be harsh.

So far, for Noel things were not looking too good. A newly rebuilt motor, missing practice ,no time trials, and only one ride up on the road, Just to add a little spice to the mix, Noel’s sleeping arrangements for the entire trip would be in his car.  One reason, was to stay close to the car at all times,  and the second reason……….lets just say, there was a lack of sponsorship funds available for lodging.

Bringing a Hot Rod to a Championship race.

Noel Bullock ,the blond youthful kid from Nebraska, perhaps didn’t make the best first impression with the Pikes Peak Hill Climb racing organisation and it’s fans, but he was for real !  By 1922 he already had seven years of dirt track racing at places like, Grand island, Bridgeport and Maywood tracks in Nebraska and races in South Dakota and Wyoming too .  Winning 12 of 18 races going into the PPHC, his first road course race.  The race car everyone was making fun of, was a real hot rod of it’s time.  A very light weight car at just under 1,000 pounds. The lightest smallest car to every race the PPHC.   a true home built from scraps race car.  Junkyard frame from an old Ford delivery truck, a $50 Ford engine block, a scrapyard radiator and hood.   That is the hot rodder’s way. Build with what you can scrounge. and fine tune it. Most of the race cars up until 1922 at Pikes Peak, had been factory built or factory sponsored cars with large engines and budgets. Stock touring cars with  just about anything that could be unbolted , fenders , seats, spare tires ,taken off to reduce weight. But the factory teams still wanted the cars to look good with shiny paint and to resemble the cars you could go buy at your dealership on Monday.  Championship Cars, they called them, the best that’s available, cream of the crop kind of stuff.  Nothing like “Old Liz”as Noel called it, had ever been entered at the PPHC before 1922.  The car wasn’t even painted!

What they didn’t know.

What wasn’t known, was the experience Noel had racing the same car for the last five years on dirt tracks, and the special modification he made for the hill climb..  The week before the Pikes Peak race while he was doing the engine rebuild he also added an early aftermarket hot rod  RAJO  8- valve head to his Ford block and a Miller carburetor, bringing the car up to 50 horsepower, which was big for a 4 cylinder ford motor.   The biggest expense overall for the race car at the PPHC, was the new Dayton wire wheels and Firestone tires. Total investment in the car is said to have been about $400.

To find out more about the Noel Bullock story and his race car,, check out:

http://www.nwvs.org/Technical/MTFCA/Articles/1405PikesPeak1922.pdf

 

Race day September 4th, 1922

The day before the race  brought afternoon rain and snow shower to the upper section of the course.  The last three miles on race day would be ankle-deep in slush. Noels’ lightweight race car would have an advantage as long the new  Firestone tires could do their job.   At the start line the officials noticed he still had no race number on his car.  Having some enamel paint in his tool box,  and since he was the 24th entered in the race , he decided to paint 24 on the side of the car with his fingers.

Done now, let’s race  !

Stay tuned for part two !!!

 

Engines, Airplane, Airplane and a Tank

Altitude at start line for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race is at 9,300 feet and finish line is 14,115 feet above sea level.   Air pressure is less any time above sea level . The higher you go the less oxygen you have for combustion.  This effect on an engine is explained by a percentage of loss of horsepower as you climb up in altitude.  As an example,  a car has 100% of it’s available horsepower at sea level , at the Pikes Peak start line (9,300 ft) you only have about 70% of available horsepower. A loss of 30% power. At the summit you are down to about 60% available horsepower, a loss of 40% power.  Race car builders for years have thought bigger is better. If you start out with huge horsepower  even with the loss as you climb you still have tons of horsepower at the top.  The problem is , with more horsepower usually comes with more weight and a loss of traction.  Here are a few different approaches to the challenge.

The first race, and a airplane engine.

Hal-Scott Aircraft engine

The Romano Special from 1916. Huge horsepower and a light weight car. The car  builder  and owner was Jean Romano with Rae Lentz as a driver.   Before attending Pikes Peak, Rae and the Romano Spl.  won many races on the West Coast. The eight cylinder Hall-Scott Aviation motor developed 125 horsepower.  Newspaper accounts at the 1916 Pikes Peak Hill Climb made a big deal of an aircraft engine in the car. At the time most folks wrongly assumed it was the well known Curtiss Aviation motor. The big race for the “Penrose Trophy” was on day two, Event #3.   Lentz with mechanic Henry North took the win and a time of 20:55.6.

The Romano Special prior to Pikes Peak. Nice view of the Hall-Scott aviation motor.

 

1923 the “Marcus Special”

Gazette Telegraph Feb.25,1923

The big changes in rules for 1923 had to deal with “Freak Cars” . Yes that is what they were calling the stripped down light weight cars that would go on to be called jalopies in the 1930’s. ( I like to call it the Noel Bullock Rule, but that is another story.)

Minimum weight requirements were set in each cubic inch class. Smallest  engines 183cc or less with 1600 pounds minimum weight.  Class “C” the 184 -300 cubic inches with at least 1800 pounds. Lastly the big boys Class “E”, with more then 300 cubic inches and no less then 2,000 pounds.

The ” Marcus SPL.” would be running in the Class”E” event.

Gazette Telegraph 1923

Not much is known about the car other then the aviation motor, a long and low specially built chassis and the airplane sized wheels. Hal Brinker was from Denver and a favorite for years with Colorado road racing fans.  He had been racing Pikes Peak since the first race in 1916 and raced continued until 1924. Fun fact about Hal, he was disqualified from the PPHC in 1920 for Outlaw Racing ! ? !

No time trial results are available for 1923. The high horsepower heavy car with shinny tires must of had traction problems for sure. On race day Hal (Harold) gave the fans near Glen Cove a thrilling spectacle, as he pulled to the side of the road in a cloud of smoke as his car caught fire! ( Gazette 9-4-23).

In those days finishing position went out to anyone that started and based upon how far up the road you made it. Sixteen cars started and even with the fire, and a did not finish, the “Marcus Special” was awarded 12th place.

if you know more information about this car or driver please contact me.

The Butterball with a Steyr tank engine

Bill Milliken is a automotive engineering genesis.

Please read his book ” Equations of Motion”. There is a chapter plus of his  time at Pikes Peak from 1947-1953 with his Bugatti , the FWD Miller and the Butterball race car. Tons of great information and detailed charts of his PPHC testing and race day achievements.

Equations of Motion

Available at amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Equations-Motion-Innovation-Engineering-Autobiography/dp/0837615704/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me=

Archie Butterworth built the race car in England ,that would be later nicknamed “Butterball’ by the FWD racing team. The car is powered by a German war-surplus, air-cooled, Steyr tank engine and it is also four wheel drive !  The great news is the car still survives and is available to be seen, by the public at the FWD Museum in Clintonville Wisconsin . Check this article for more info :

http://www.speedville.com/fwd-butterball-special-race-car/

Bill Millinken bought the car in 1951 and shipped it to the USA.  The FWD team entered it in the time trials at Pikes Peak in 1953,  During qualifications the shift linkage broke and the car was stuck in third gear. With no time remaining at time trials for repairs the team did not qualify . The tank engine was just too hard on the equipment.

Limited pictures are available .

Overall results of the aviation  and tank engines at altitude 

Bringing large horsepower engines to Pikes Peak Hill Climb to commentate for the loss of 30-40 percent of your power as you climb, had it’s disadvantages .  Larger motors bring more heat and weight and they are harder on the equipment. In the early days the weight distribution of the heavy motors in the front , also lead to a massive loss of traction with the skinny tires available. Overall just building a race car with an aircraft, or a tank engine is considered a success. Just not the success the the owners and drivers wanted on race day.

In modern times, the development of rear and mid-engine race cars has helped with weight distribution. Lighter materials have helped with horsepower to weight issues and tire developments have came a long way in the means of available traction.  The European Group “B” rally cars of the 1980’s has shown the light, on what all wheel drive traction can do and still remains the “Must Have” principle to go fast on the all paved road to the summit.

The faster cars on the horizon of Pikes Peak seem to be in the Electric cars.  Those cars are reliving some of the same problems that ,Rea Lentz, Hal Brinker and Bill Milliken had to deal with…. WEIGHT !  The tank and aircraft motors with huge horsepower, were used to help deal with the loss of power by 30-40 percent as you climb. but the trade off was more weight. The electric cars don’t loss any horsepower no matter the altitude, but the extra horsepower needed requires large and HEAVY battery packs.

In the end from 1916 to this years race, have things haven’t really changed that much overall ?   Or have they ?

If you like what you read at this site, tell a friend. Sometime in May , I plan to officially open it up to the public. Thanks for being here !

 

 

 

1926 the race within the race .

1926 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Hotel challenge

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.

1926 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Hotel challenge

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

A Legendary Lexington (part two)

Winning brings sponsors. This was true in the 1920’s and still is today.

Racing in the first half of the 1920’s was good for the Lexington Motor Company.   Firestone, , Triangle Gasoline ,Rayfield Carburetors, Connecticut ignitions , Mobiloil,  just to name a few picked up Lexington and their Pikes Peak Hill Climb race cars wins in their advertising .

The racing success of Number “7” was only the first half of  the “Legendary Lexington” story. The second stage of the story, in my eyes, is just as important as the first half.  How does a hill climb race car survive for 90 plus years in as raced condition?  Most cars that were lucky enough to survive racing were usually torn down, parted out , or worse yet sent out to be scrapped, as technology pasted them by.

What would  happen to Number “7” ?

After the Pikes Peak Hill Climb win in 1924. The Lexington Motor Company and the mountain parted ways. The company was in dire trouble and would only hang on for a few years longer. The race cars were offered for sale to any interested Lexington Dealerships.  Lucky number “7” was going to have a new home.

A Diamond.

The New York City Lexington dealer Harry Diamond bought the race car and displayed it in his N.Y. dealership for many years.  Some where along the line at a later date, seven was  moved into the dealership basement for storage.  The good news it was stored in a  good place and not forgotten. Short term storage , turned into long term storage of around twenty years.  Details are not crystal clear, but some time in the early 1940’s a great caretaker was to appear , and the basement banishment  would  be over.

From a Diamond, to a DuPont, through a Stanley, and finally back home. Connecting the 1940s to the 1990 and back to home.

People have asked how does PPHC history get lost of worse yet forgotten over the years. Some compare it to Moonshiners’ history, passed down by word of mouth, (seldom in writing) from one generation to next . Tall tales embellished , dates and names crossed over ,with some stories becoming folk lore while others are totally lost.  One man went on a mission to get the stories put into print.  Stanley DeGeer, the most prominent “Race to the Clouds” author started  a hunt for the original Pikes Peak Hill Climb “Penrose” trophy .  Not only did he find the trophy, he alsoalong the way, with the help of Lexington historian Henry Blommel, found the Lexington race car number 7 stashed away in the DuPont  family collection.

The “DuPont” family !

If you look up DuPont family on Wikipedia, most folks will notice, ” Since the 19th century, the DuPont family has been one of the richest families in America.”  The DuPont’s’ also manufactured up-scale automobiles from 1919-1933. What Pikes Peak Hill Climb fans will remember about the family is they saved Lexington number 7.  Details of the time in the families collection are vague . The car was last kept in the Colonial Flying Museum in Toughkenamon Pennsylvania. What is known from their purchase in the early 1940’s until it was rediscovered in  1994 , the car still remained in as raced condition AND  was turn key ready and  running well.  (That is no small feat) .

Through the hard work of Stanley DeGeer, the DuPont family and the Pikes Peak historical group the Lexington number seven was going back to Pikes Peak. The car would go on to spend time displayed at the Hill Climb Museum in Manitou Springs Colorado and the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville Indiana .

Back Home !

Today its’ forever home is in the El Pomar Pikes Peak Historical Museum  in Colorado Springs along with several other PPHC historic race acrs and memorabilia.  Number Seven is displayed in the place of honor , at TOP of the display next to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Penrose trophy . Stop in and check it out, the place is amazing.

Thanks for reading the story of the  Legendary Lexington !

Pass it on !

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