Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R at Pikes Peak in 1966

Information wanted on this Ford Shelby GT-350R at Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.Three Mustangs entered in the 1966 race.

There has been a mystery around the Ford Mustangs fastbacks that entered the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in 1966. It started with Hot Rod magazine a few years back releasing photos of three Mustangs during practice. You can check then out at the below site.

http://www.mustangandfords.com/events/1504-mustangs-at-the-1966-pikes-peak-hill-climb/

The Sports Car Class in 66 was broken down into two classes by engine size. 2999 liters or less and 3000 liters and over.  An early newspaper report mentioned that, two “Competition Cars” from California would be entered in the sports car class.  The Hot Rod magazine pictures and the mention in the paper was just about all that surfaced for many years until recently.

Car #8 Jim Good

Jim Good in his Ford Mustang fastback at the PPHC in 1966

A closer look at this photo in the Gazette Telegraph from practice week show a little more detail. Jim Good was a veteran of the Hill Climb, he raced 11 times prior in the Championship Class. Originally from Colorado Springs, later moving to Corvina California . Not many details of the car are available other then this was the #8 Mustang. It had a Thunderbolt style hood scoop, no bumpers and the strange half moon mini windshields.  Jim Good failed to qualify during practice and did not make the field  for reasons unknown.

#12 Ron Dykes Ford Shelby GT-350R

Race day line up at Pikes Peak in 1966

 

This picture has just recently surfaced, from 1966 race day. Showing a few Champ cars # 47 Vermillion and #42 Manning , with the # 12 Dykes Shelby GT and  #9 Lowderman Kurtis race car in the background.  A few details noticed from the photos on Ron’s car are the “Performance Associates ” quarter panel sponsorship and “Bay Area Auto Sales” on the front fenders. Other track photos from the time shows, Ron Dykes driving this car at other events with the same markings. The car clearly has the rear window venting, no bumpers and different lower valance of a GT-350R . Ron Dykes is listed as being from Pacific Palisades California at the time. Qualified 10th in time trails and had engine failure on race day resulting in the “Did Not Finish”

At Pikes Peak in 1966, the Ron Dykes Shelby GT

Surely there is more history out there for this car.

#2  Ford Mustang GT 350

My guess this is, this car is the second of the two “Competition Cars” mentioned in the newspaper . The car clearly is running bumpers and the factory lower valance panel and looks to be a stock Shelby Gt 350. No driver information is currently available. (I will do more digging)

Results and entries from the Sports Car Class PPHC in 1966

Entry list with handwritten timing results 1966, confirms Ron Dykes Shelby GT

Winner Ak Miller was in a Devin race car called the “Cobra Kit Car Special” with a ford 427 engine.Information Wanted

A few things would be nice to complete this story. First off , was the #12 Dykes car a true GT-350 R ? What serial number and does it still survive ? Second, did the two white with blue stripes Shelby’s come as a team and who was the second driver, and what was “Performance Associates”.

If you can help answer these questions or have additional pictures of the Mustangs in 1966 please contact 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 !

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”