“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 !

 

Early Meyers Manx dune buggies at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Ted Trevor at the finish line at the 1966 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Meyers Manx 

Bruce Meyers of Fountain Valley California designed the first dune buggies in 1963 using a fiberglass monocoque shell or what today would be called a unibody structure. His initial dune buggies had a steel frame within the fiberglass body. They were designed to bolt Volkswagen Beetle engine, transmission, front and rear suspension systems to the unibody design. The monocoque dune buggy body shell production started in 1964 with only twelve bodies produced. The cost to make the steel reinforced bodies was to expensive and slow. The next version of the bodies were made of only fiberglass, those were designed to bolt on top of a shortened VW pan. The new fiberglass only bodies, the “Meyers Manx” as Bruce called them, were much cheaper to produce and became a huge success. By 1971 over 6,000 Meyers Manx bodies had been produced and available in 5 different body styles. There would be 100’s of copy cat designers of his dune buggies over the years, but Bruce Meyers was the first and the original “Meyers Manx” dune buggies have become highly desired and collectible.

Volksvair ?

Ted Trevor founded the “Crown Manufacturing Company” in Newport Beach California in 1960. In just a few years time Ted was the leading manufacturer of kits to adapt the Chevrolet Corvair flat six engines into air-cooled Volkswagen Bugs, Karmann Ghia’s and dune buggies that were based on the VW motors. These were called ‘Volks-Vair’ kits. The additional horsepower that the Corvair engine could make was a big step up from the Volkswagen stock motors. Crown Manufacturing would eventually sell 15,000 such kits. In later years, Ted’s company would go on to be known for their kits to adapt V-8 engines into the Chevrolet Corvair’s .

Volks-Vair dune buggies at the 1966 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Ted Trevor and Don Wilcox entered two of the Crown Manufacturing Volks-Vair equipped monocoque bodied Meyers Manx, dune buggies in the 1966 PPHC. (That’s a mouthful!).  When they showed up for practice week nothing like that had ever been seen at the hill climb. The dune buggies arrived with windshields, passenger seats and license plates. The rules committee decided a few changes had to be made in order for the cars to enter in the Sports Car Class. Behind the scenes no one except Ted and Don figured the buggies would even have a chance , let alone win. To meet the class requirements and to keep the old guard at the PPHC content the two drivers adapted a few changes. The windshields were removes along with the passenger seats and a tonneau cover was used to cover the interior.

Ted Trevor’s purple dune buggy ran the carburetor equipped Corvair engine and Don Wilcox’s blue buggy was using a turbocharged Corvair Spdyer motor. Of the two, Don’s was lighter by 200 pounds and was the fastest. During practice folks started to take notice. Hot Rod magazine said ” The power-to-rate ratio is very good and traction for acceleration off the corners is second to none thanks to the rear engine location”. The biggest surprise was at quailing were Don Wilcox’s time in the turbocharged buggy beat all of the sports cars regardless of engine size AND was faster then all of the stock cars and most of the championship class cars too.  Ted Trevor wasn’t as fortunate, he was still dealing with carburetor issues adjusting the engine for the altitude.

Time trail results 1966 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Sports Car Class

Race day would show a reversal of fortune for the two dune buggy drivers.  Don Wilcox lost a coil wire at the gravel pit area and would sit along the side of the course for quite some time. After figuring out the issue he continued to the summit with a time of over an hour. Ted Trevor’s car was running much better with adjustments since time trails and took the win in the under 3000 liter sports car class with a time of 15:43.

After Pikes Peak

Gates Tire Company of Denver Colorado was a large sponsor for the hill climb in 1966 and liked what the buggies were about and used Ted’s dune buggy in its advertisements after the race.

The pair would go on to race their dune buggies in slalom and autocrosss races events after Pikes Peak. Both cars were successful and became very famous in the California dune buggy culture.

Don at a slalom race shortly after the PPHC, the buggy still wears decals and numbers form the hill climb

 The purple dune buggy that Ted drove would later be totaled in an a racing accident but the engine would go into a legendary dune buggy racer the “Purple People Eater” and would carry on the winning spirit. Ted Trevor was close to Bruce Meyers the originator of the Manx dune buggies. Bruce, to this day still has a chuck of the purple metal flake body from Ted’s accident his office. There are few color pictures of either dune buggy. Below is the only known of Ted’s purple car, looks to be at a slalom event perhaps. notice the license plate is the same from the PPHC newspaper clip above.

Don Wilcox’s dune bugging would be modified after Pikes Peak and finished forth in class at the Mexican 1000 Baja race in 1968 driven by Eric Ressier and Glen Forte. Don Wilcox would buy the buggy from Crown MFG. in 1969 and over the years convert it back to the way it was when he raced at Pikes Peak. After more then forty years of ownership he still has his PPHC dune buggy. In 2015 he was invited to show it at the Carlise Import and Kit Nationals.

The Don Wilcox Pikes Peak Hill Climb Meyers Manx dune buggy in 2015. Still owned by Don ! Notice the 1966 PPHC time trial winning trophy in the back seat

There would be other dune buggies entered in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in later years. But being the first only happens once. The fact that only 12 monocoque Meyers Manx dune buggies were built and two of them raced at Pikes Peak and one STILL survives is amazing. If you have additional information or pictures of dune buggies racing at the PPHC please slip me a line.

Thanks for checking out this blog !

Victress sports cars at the PPHC

One of the earliest fiberglass bodied sports cars the “Victress” was started by Boyce “Doc” Smith in North Hollywood California. Some would say it was more kit car then sports car. Four different body styles were available the S-1 roadster was the most popular. Victress was the leading pioneer in fiberglass sport cars in the early 1950s.

Total production figures are all over the place, anywhere from 50 bodies to high as 150 sold. As luck and fortune would have it two Victress Sports Cars raced in the PPHC.

The Sports Car Class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

The first attempt for the sports car class at Pikes Peak was in 1953. Only three Jaguars were in the class. Even with the foreign car craze sweeping the country, it would take a little longer for it to catch on in the racing community. American ingenuity and the development of the fiberglass sports car body would kick things into high gear quickly. Victress, Devin, Bocar and several other companies were developing fiberglass bodies and even chassis’s that would fit the American V-8 motors and drive trains while keeping the prices affordable. After the small turnout for the 1953 sports car class, the PPHC didn’t bring it back until 1958 and the class would run until 1966.

1958 PPHC and the first Victress

The issue of listing the fiberglass body cars that entered the hill climb was challenging . Some owners and drivers listed the car by body style, while some of the officials tended to list the cars by engine type, much like how it was done in the championship cars. On top of that confusion a few owners would list their car by sponsorship, such as the “John Doe Machine Shop Special” etc..

1958 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race Sports Car Class entry list

For PPHC fans and historians finding cars, sponsors etc. can be tricky. The first car listed above was Dan Morgan who drove a Victress bodied car running a Ford Thunderbird modified engine.  On the entry list was Ak Miller, he was in a Devin race car that was called the “Hot Rod Special” and ran a Chevy V-8.  The BoCar Special another fiberglass car was driven by Bob Carnes the designer and builder of the BoCar race car line. You can see the challenge in identifying those early fiberglass sports cars on the entry lists and in the official results. Wish I could say it got easier as the years went on, but the classifications and the car names in the sports cars class was lacking the entire time the class ran from 1958-1966.  

Dan Morgan and the 1st Victress at Pikes Peak

A resident of Pueblo Colorado and a four year veteran running in the Championship class at Pikes Peak, Dan Morgan was a great candidate for the Victress in the 1958 sports car class.

Dan Morgan gassing up with the Official Pikes Peak Hill Climb Mobiloil gasoline. 1958 PPHC Victress race car

Pictures as they say, are worth a thousand words, so true at Pikes Peak. By the entry list you would think Dan was driving a Ford of some sort. The Victress can be seen on the trailer unlike any Ford on the market. The Victress was one good looking race car. Dan’s Max Day Insurance Special sports car ran a T-Bird Y-Block V-8 with three inline carbs.

Dan Morgan Victress sports car at the 1958 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race practice

The car used Ford front and rear suspension components, weighing in at 2600 pounds. For it’s day, it was considered light and powerful. During practice and time trails Dan would prove it. Taking first in qualifying by an large margin of 40 seconds over Ak Miller in his Devin-Chevy ,Ak was one of the race favorites. A misfortune on race day would see the Victress fall to Ak Miller’s time of 15:23.7 . Dan Morgan would take 2nd place with a time of 15:25.  The shift knob on the Victress broke and made shifting during the 156 turns a real challenge. A close race for sure !

The Max Day Victress survives !

After the 1958 PPHC race the car would only race one additional time in La Juanta Colorado and afterward it was put away. To find out more about the car and it’s history after Pikes Peak check out the following website.

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2016/06/1955-victress-it-sounded-familiar-so-i.html

 

There was another Victress the Guy Mabee Spl.

The “Worlds Fastest Sports Car” the Guy Mabee Special Victress would be entered in the 1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. The car would not be in the same configuration it ran during it’s 1953 at the Bonneville Salt Flats where it set a speed record of 203.105.  No one would even recognize it as the same car that ran the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1960. Old race cars tend to be sold when some owners think the technology has passed them by. The Kurtis Kraft front and rear suspension remained but the lands speed hemi motor AND the body was swapped out for its attempt at the PPHC. It is a wild story and you can read about it at the link below.

http://www.forgottenfiberglass.com/fiberglass-car-marques/victress/mabee-special-bruce-gross-july-1995/

After the Bonneville record in 1953 the car had changed hands a few times and by the time it came to Pikes Peak it had many upgrades. Sadly the car was no longer carrying the Victress body, in it’s place was a aluminum body with dual headlights.  The engine was also replaced with a Buick. You could almost say it was a different car except it’s history at Pikes Peak would help provide some answers to questions when the car resurfaced in 1983.

PPHC 1960

Arrow points to the # 8 Buick Special after time trials 1960
PPHC Sports Car Class results 1960

Unusual intermittent snow storms would strike the 1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. The Sports Cars was the last class to start and the Unlimited group, the last in class to run. Charlie Royal would not even get a chance to run on race day. Between the sporadic weather and the Corvette of George Metzer overturning just before Charlie’s run, there wouldn’t be any chance of him racing in 1960.  The race director drove in the Pace Car to the location the Corvette had crashed. Once the fans saw the car coming down hill they figured the race was over and the chaos of cars coming onto the course finished the day.  In the official records the last five drivers are recorded as “Did Not Start”.

This Victress also survives !

If you checked out the link above you know after a tremendous restoration effort the race car is back to the way it was during it’s Bonneville Salt Flat days. Wonder what happened to the aluminum Pikes Peak dual headlight body? With such a low production run and only the two cars racing Pikes Peak , it is surprising they both survive. It just goes to show how important the hill climb has been to the racing world. Many of the specialty built race cars ended up racing the PPHC and that provenance has gone a long way  in keeping those cars from being scrapped. Nice to see an increasing interest in the restoration of older Pikes Peak Hill Climb race cars !

In future updates on this post, I hope to have additional photographs of both of these Victress race cars at the PPHC.

 

Jaguar prowls at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb (part 2)

Be sure to check out part one first !

 

XK120 Jaguar at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in 1953

The early years recap.

The first year was 1953 and then jumping ahead to 1958 the first four XK120 Jaguar trips to the Summit accomplished a best time of 17:20. Frank Bramley took the all Jaguar three car field win in 1953 . There was no sports car class from 1954-1957 at the Peak .The return in the fifty eight race was the last for a XK120 and Frank would again bring the fastest Jaguar time, but the time of 17:20 was only good enough for 7th place.   The 1960’s would bring larger fields, larger engines and many new fiberglass bodied entries among them would be also be the next brand of Jaguar race cars.

D-Type at Pikes Peak

The D-Type Jaguar was a factory built race car with a limited production of around twenty factory team cars and 50 customer cars. These were bar none the best of the breed and they demand astronomical prices today, if you can even find one that is for sale. Bill Krause bought his D-Type (serial # XKD-519)  in 1956 and tore up the local tracks in California. Taking wins at Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, and Willow Springs . The dark blue car wore yellow “Von Dutch” scallops and pinstripes. First raced with the factory Jaguar 3.8 liter engine and later replaced with a bored and stroked 327 Chevrolet Corvette V-8.  Yes, many crazy American’s would update the D-Type’s to V-8 power during the hay day of sports car racing.  It was just cheaper and easier to build horsepower out of the V-8 platform then what you could get out of the Jaguar designed engine.

PPHC 1960 Bill Krause

A  Jaguar D-Type with a Chevy V-8 wasn’t what the Jaguar purist wanted to see at Pikes Peak, but it was most definitely what the hill climb fans wanted. The gorgeous, curvaceous, streamlined, European body and an American V-8 motor. What a combination ! The sports car field was divided into three groups for the 1960 event by engine displacement. Bill’s D-Type would be in the Group One Unlimited Class 3001cc and up, along with several Corvettes, a Ferrari Testa Rosa and five fiberglass bodied V-8 powered race cars , a Devin, a Victress and 3 locally built fan favorite BoCars.

Left to Right, Ferrari Testa Rosa, D-Type Jag, BoCar at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race 1960

Bill Krause was fast during practice and garnered much attention, he would qualify second in time trails  Unfortunately on race day Pikes Peak would see the worst weather in PPHC history. The weather started out mild and intensified as the day wore on. The Sports Car Class ran last after the Championship and Stock Car classes and would receive the worst of the weather. The storms would be hit and miss along the course, the local newspaper accounts used words like “Furious” and “Chaos” to describe the mini storms. Some of the driver raced in the rain and sleet, while other experienced blowing snow with white out conditions.  Just getting to the summit was the challenge for the sports car class in 1960 regardless of the time.  

During practice PPHC 1960 D-Type Jaguar Bill Krause. Notice face mask
Sports Car Class results 1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

By a handful of second (less then five),  Bill Krause finished in second place. He made it to the top even with the challenging weather and the hopeless traction loss, all thanks to mother nature. He would go back to Pikes Peak in 1961, would things work out better ?

PPHC in 1961 and “TWO” D-Type Jaguar’s ?

Bill Krause ran a different paint scheme in 1961 at Pikes Peak. White body with blue scallops and red lettering. A second D-Type Jaguar was entered by the “Gambles Racing Team”  with John Barless from Minnesota as the driver.

The Barlass entry is somewhat a mystery. Just a few mentions of the team prior to race week and nothing from practice, time trails or race day. My guess is the car was also entered at the race on July 3rd at Continental Divide Raceway the day before the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Perhaps there was a mishap during practice there prior to coming to Pikes Peak ?  The race track at CDR is just up the road from Colorado Springs and during the raceways short lifespan, races were scheduled on the off day before the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race drawing more competitors for the two races. Bill Krause would cooked his Jag’s blown and stroked engine at CDR prior to race day at Pikes Peak in 1961. Could both Jaguar’s been causalities ?

Bill Krause 1961 at the Official Mobilgas station
Experiencing overheating problem during practice.

During practice Bill’s ‘Jag-Vette” was experiencing overheating issues perhaps an early warning to the upcoming engine failure later in the week.  As mentioned earlier, Bill was one of those who entered in both the CDR event on July 3rd and the PPHC on July forth. The team would jump back and forth from Colorado Springs and  CDR (outside of Castle Rock Colorado), to practice each course during the week leading up to the holiday weekend racing.  During qualifying for Pikes Peak Bill Krause would take first place in time trails , but blow the 327 Corvette engine Friday during practice in Castle Rock for the CDR race. Was his weekend over?  Not if his crew could help it.  The team didn’t have any spare Corvette motors but a local Chevrolet dealership had 283 short block available . Swapping out as many parts as possible the team got the car running again except with much less horsepower. The weather wasn’t an issue in 1961, thankfully, and even with an under-powered car, Bill Krause would take second place in class with a time of 14:49.7. That would be the end for the D-Type Jaguar’s at Pikes Peak.

Does the Bill Krause D-Type Jaguar still survive ?

Serial number XXD-519 raced from 1956 to 1961. It’s last recorded race was the 200 mile event on October 15th 1961 at Riverside. Later reports have said the car was returned to a Jaguar engine and painted a factory yellow color and shipped to the UK. Some say it is still alive and well.  I have no pictures or info for the current owner or previous owners. If you have additional information please contact me.

E-Type

Jim Anderson of San Luis Obispo California would bring an E-Type Jaguar to the Sports Car Class in 1963.

E-type jaguar in 1963 at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

The car was listed as a “Mustang Special” and qualified 11th out of the  field of 13 cars. Once again the Sports Car Class ran as only one combined field regardless of engine size. On race day he would finish with a time of 17:42 . 10th out of 10 cars making it to the summit. Three did not finish.

Hope for another Jaguar victory at Pikes Peak ?

Justin Law brought an F-Type Jaguar to the PPHC in 2015. Let’s hope it is the beginning of a new trend.

For more information on this wonderful car check it out at:

http://www.carbonrev.com/motorsports

http://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/videos/a26091/jaguar-f-type-pikes-peak/

If you liked part one and part two of  “Jaguar prowls at Pikes Peak’ let me know. Thanks for checking out this blog !!

 

Ferrari’s at the Great Race (part two)

Some of the Sports Car Class at Pikes Peak 1960

(If you haven’t seen Ferrari part one scroll down and catch that first)

Dick Morgensen’s Testa Rosa 250

Richard bought his 1958 Ferrari 250 TR Spider Scaglietti new in 1958. Right off the bat he was racing at Santa Barbara, Del Mar, Palm Springs and tracks across the USA . Early on he ran the Ferrari red race car wearing the number 146, but quickly shortened it to “46” which it retained for the rest of it’s racing career. The 250 TR race cars were powerful brutes, running a huge 3 liter V-12 single cam engine, with two distributors and six carburetors, followed by a 4 speed transmission and drum brakes all around. . Only 32 of these stallions were built and the values of those remaining today are astronomical. (demanding 8 figure prices )

1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Going into Pikes Peak, Dick Morgensen and his Ferrari 250 TR had already claimed 16, 1st in class results out of  the 22 races he had entered. The Sports Car Class at the PPHC in 1960 included many greats , Indy 500 winner Roger Ward in a Porsche RSK, Ak Miller who already was a two time sports car class winner at Pikes Peak in a Devin-Olds, Bill Krause in a Chevy-D-Jaguar , two BoCars driven by Bob Carnes and L.D. Stakehouse ,  Bob Donner Jr. in his Porsche RSK, along with several potent Corvettes . It was the place to be for sports car racing, but how would the rip snorting Ferrari Stallion Testa Rosa handle the dirt and the altitude ?

Qualifying

By the time practice week thins the heard, and going into qualifying you get an idea who has the right setup and what drivers have a chance at making the fastest time on race day. The sports car class was divided into three groups by engine displacement.  Group 3 0-1500cc, Group 2 1501-3000cc and Group 1 “Unlimited” 3001cc- and up.  A few of cars in the large displacement, Unlimited class had mechanical issues during qualifying and the Stiletto BoCar crashed.  Dick Morgensen was in Group 2 class for 1501-3000cc cars and qualified well, even besting some of the larger unlimited class cars .

Qualifying PPHC 1960  Sports Car Class

  1.  Ak Miller Devin-Olds  (460 V-8)
  2. Bill Krause  Chevrolet-D Jaguar
  3. Al Daniels Corvette
  4. Dick Morgensen Ferrari 250 TR
  5. Charlie Bryant Corvette
  6. George Menzer Corvette
  7. Carl Parise Corvette
  8. Carrol Royal (Victress-Buick)
  9. Ray Rouch  Austin-Healey
  10. L.D. Stackhouse Bocar XP-7
  11. Joyce Thompson Sprite ( 1st female at Pikes Peak !)
Dick Morgensen during practice at the 1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa

Race Day and the weather takes over !

Racing at 14,115 feet can bring some challenges and mother nature was the issue in 1960. The course was good in the beginning a few championship class cars made it to the top before the rain, sleet and snow arrived. But for the rest of the field it wasn’t a battle for time, it was just about making it to the top without taking the scenic route off a cliff side along the way. Seven of the twenty championship cars failed to make it to the summit. Then there was a break in the weather for a short time but mud became the evil. By the time the sports car class were ready to go, the weather was once again considered “Ferocious” .  You could tell what the weather conditions by the times racers were making on the course. 48 minutes 46 seconds for Dave Pauling, another victim would be Dick Morgensen with a time of 22 minutes and 40 seconds. The glory that comes from Pikes Peak isn’t always the fastest times, it sometimes comes from overcoming the adversity the mountain throws at you. Mother nature may have slowed his way to the top, but the sunshine would come out after the race was over in winners circle. The tales of the rain, sleet, mud and snow would be told for years to come from the 1960 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.  (The record books for PPHC in 1960 for qualifying and race day results still show many errors and corrections are needed , I think they just threw their hands up by the end of the day.)

Race day after the weather passed, Dick still has snow in the front seats !

Of course this multi million dollar car still survives !

There are collectible cars and then there are REALLY collectible cars. The Ferrari name alone keeps this car very high on the must have list, let alone only 32 of the 250 TR were built AND the car has a wonderful and documented race history.  Ferrari 250 TR Serial number 0756-TR raced competitively from August of 1958 until November 27 of 1960. The value of the car was already skyrocketing by the early 1970s and the car would only be used for vintage events from 1976 on into the late 1990’s. A short stay in Mexico in the early 2000s and now back in the USA. The current owner has done a great job in keeping the car in the public’s eye and not stored away forever in some out of sight, climate controlled, dust free environment like many of the great cars go. Now fully restored and still wearing racing number 46, the car in just the last few years has been at the Ferrari Historic Challenge at Palm Beach, the Quail Gathering in Carmel Valley, the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca and at the Pebble Beach Concours .

(Love to have some of you photogs out there to send me some pics to use of the car as it is now)

Two Ferrari’s at the Great Race, 

In part one we had heard about Johnny Mauro and his “375 Indy” racing the Peak from 1952-1956 and now you know about Dan Morgensen’s “250 TR: at the 1960 race, perhaps with the road being paved the entire way to the top now, we can see Ferrari make a come back at the Great Race, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

Raced ,Stolen, Recovered and Hidden “The Butch Early Ford Special”

 

Fred “Butch” Early from Colorado Springs has secret race car hiding place.

Can you see a race car in there? Nope that is the idea .

Can you see it ? The nose panel is easy to see, and just the touch of the rollbar, but underneath that carefully arranged collection of cardboard, tarps and parts is his PPHC rear engine Ford powered race car.

This is the “Ford SPpl” that is in the picture above

Can it be done and on a budget ?

Let’s go back in time some, to the early 1960’s. As you already know the rear engine race cars had been a hit at the Indianapolis 500 and would soon be taking over the entire fields at paved tracks around the country. Could it also work at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and be affordable ?  Fred,  or better known as “Butch” Early said it could work and he would prove it. The build started in Colorado Springs but in the middle of it, his job required him to move out of town. At his new home there was only a basement garage to work out of. The garage had with a very small door. No problem for Butch, he just disassembled what he had started moved it in piece by piece and continued on. Once the car was built he just reversed the process tearing the car down in small enough parts to fit through the door and reassemble it outside and load it up for his  first trip to Pikes Peak.

Ford guy true and true, but…..

To this day Butch is still a Ford guy and his car isn’t called the “Ford Special” for nothing, but there are a few parts from the enemies camp. Up front in the nose is laid back aluminum radiator out of  a Corvette , (Much lighter then any Ford at the time) and the rear end is out of a 1955 Chevy.  I should say the rear end housing, the car ate the Chevy axles for breakfast, he was snapping them left and right. That is until he figured out how to mate Ford axles to the Chevy housing. Making matters more challenging was he wanted to run Ford inboard brakes.

rear end in 2016
Dual shocks in 2016

The rear brakes are Bendex 49-50 Ford, front suspension runs homemade a-arms with 54-56 Ford Spindles, Transmission is a T-85 Warner from the 49-51 Lincoln’s which had a bigger snycro then the Ford’s. Engine was a Hi-Po 289 running a single 750 carb. (302 in car now).  The car had 10 gallon aircraft ten gallon fuel tank and one of the first sets of Weld racing rims with Gates Commander Tires (still on the car). So mostly Ford parts and home built with a weight of around 1300 pounds. Turned out to be not only fast but a very nice looking race car too.

Butch and crew all had jackets that matched the car and the pinstriping on the car was done by a local Colorado Springs fireman. The car even received the trophy for “Best Appearing Race Car” at the Autorama Show inside the old downtown City Auditorium. (He still has the 3 foot trophy). If you have any pictures from when car shows were inside at the auditorium please contact me, it is hard to find early Colorado Springs car show history.

The car was built to race , PPHC 1967-1970

The first year out was in 1967 before the secret of running ford axles was figured out. Butch snapped the Chevy axles just coming off the trailer. Year one was not a good one. Did not qualify for 67 is how it shows in the record books. During this time frame there would be 30 to 40 championship cars showing up to try to make the 25 car field on race day. Just making it to race day was considered a win in many ways. In 1968 Butch qualified 22nd and on race day his time of 15:56.10 was good enough for 15th place, ( His best finish).  In 1969 he moved up his qualifying to 15th fastest ( best qualifying),  but crashed on race day. 1970 would be Butch’s last year at Pikes Peak and would also be his fastest time on race day , 15:07.16.

Times change, car goes to storage.

Jobs, wives, kids and family all take a toll on race cars and drivers. Butch like many others had changes to make and the car was put into long term storage. At least that is what he thought. After several years he went to check on his old “Ford Special” in storage. Someone had STOLEN, his car and the storage place didn’t even notify him, sad times indeed. Jump ahead ten years later, while at a local dinner Butch overhears about a car for sale locally that could be cut up and made into a nice dune buggy. Odd it really sounded like his old car. He followed up on the tip and contacted the seller, IT WAS HIS CAR ! Even after explaining all the small build details and the pictures of him racing it back  day, the seller still wouldn’t let him have the car back for free . Butch wasn’t going to give up and rather then going through the the hassles and time involved to take matter to court, he figured the fastest and easiest thing to was to just buy his car back.

The car survives today !

Other then the time it was stolen the car has been with him for 40 plus years and will be for many more. When I  first saw the pile of parts in the undisclosed storage location, I couldn’t believe a race car was in there. It really was there and the covering of stuff has helped it stay there for many years. Once bitten is enough for Butch. You cant steal it , if you don’t know even know it’s there .

Car sits mostly complete, with motor, trans, bod, and even sitting on the same Gates Tires still holding air from 1970 ,

 

                                          Soon to come out of storage.

The “Early Ford Special” is due to come out of hiding and get cleaned up but will be kept in a as raced condition and not all dolled up like the cars you see in some museums.

First year, early nose, headers etc.
Later nose, header and roll bar , car is same today

Hard to decide which story line is better, the man with the idea to build an affordable rear engine race car and does it, or how it was built in a basement garage and dissembled to take it out and put back together to race it. then there is the story on stolen from storage, bought back and hidden in plain site to consider. You tell me or maybe its all of it, either way thank you Fred” Butch” Early for passing on your wonderful Pikes Peak Hill Climb stories.

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”