1971 Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak (part 2)

The 1971 Dune Buggy Class

Entry list 1971 PPHC Dune Buggies

Part one of this article talked about the reason why there was a recreational class in 1971 and the three car dune buggy team for Crown MFG and their Deserter buggies. Let’s check out the rest of the field and find out how things went.

Wally Drew

Wally was from Colorado Springs CO. He was also the local distributor of the Fiber Fab line of dune buggy bodies. The body style he used on race day was called a Clodhopper and ran a turbo charged Corvair rear mounted engine. Wally also ran several local hill climbs prior to racing Pikes Peak. A four time winner of the Mt. Buckhorn Hill Climb and also a winner of the Crystal Park Hill Climb in the same dune buggy he raced at the PPHC.  His major sponsor was Surplus City of Colorado Springs.

Top photo from race day, bottom picture was prior to the race, still wearing windshield and bumpers etc.

Bert Moore

Not much is known about Bert, he was from Salt Lake City . The car was red and white and wore the number 77. Volkswagen running gear with an unknown body type , engine is listed as Porsche.

Race day at Pikes Peak 1971 Bert Moore

Dick Rayer

Dick was from Cascade CO., at the foot of the Pikes Peak Highway. His car was sponsored by Ken’s Husky / Dick’s TV. The body was designed to follow the lines of the Can-Am series race cars of the day. The owner and builder of the car was Ken Blockhan also from Cascade. The car was powered by a mid-engine turbo charged Corvair motor.

Dick Rayer at Pikes Peak in 1971
Can-Am race style body, Corvair power

The Whitfield brothers

John was from El Paso TX and Bud from Costa Meas CA . Both active in off-road racing.  A true Meyers Manx dune buggy would be John chose with a rear mounted Volkswagen engine. He would carry car number 54 on his orange and black race car.

Bud Whitfield would be in a Deserter dune buggy carrying sponsorship from Crown MFG , no known pictures of Bud’s car from 1971 have been found and he is listed as a “Did Not Start” in some records and others have him as the last finisher. (Help solve the mystery)

Richard Munday

A Boulder Colorado resident, raced car number 43 , with a rear mounted Porsche engine.

Looks to be a Meyers Manx body

Unknown from 1971

Photograph was taken on race day in 1971, diffidently a dune buggy but not a Deserter body. Looks like a Corvair turbo engine.

Time Trails and Race Day !

First off,  the field ended up much smaller then expected , leaving the organizers some what worried about the change to recreational classes. Gates Tire Company was a major race sponsors in 1971 and they loved the dune buggy class. Several of the dune buggy drivers were involved in making a thirty minute advertising film for the tire company and were provided with as many of the “Gates Commando” tires as the needed for the entire practice week and for race day. ( If you have a copy of the film let me know )

Time trail weather was perfect and the guy with the most experience on Pikes Peak, in the class would take the win, Ted Trevor.

Time trial results for the Dune Buggy Class 1971 PPHC

As predicted, the Crown MFG team took the top spots. Overall the dune buggy qualifying times teams were not that far behind the other classes. In the Stock Car Class , Bill Daniels in a Corvette was the winner with a time of 6:11.92 and Bob Seivert in the Four-Wheel Class took the top spot with 6:11.54.  Time trials takes place from the start line to Glen Cove area, which is only the bottom third portion of the course. Race day times, would show how much the altitude effects the smaller engines at Pikes Peak. One issue of note, is the rule of not being able to compete on race day if you do not qualify . With such a small field in the dune buggy class, the powers that be, left it up to the drivers to vote if the none qualifiers , John & Bud Whitfield and Charles Wayne, should be able to run on race day. John Whitfield lost an engine during practice and wasn’t able to make the time trails. Luckily for him the group voted to let everyone run on race day.

Race day, Race Day, RACE DAY !

July 11, another great weather day. The Dune Buggy Class would be the first off.

Start line at the PPHC in 1971, Dune Buggy Class

The starting order was determined in 1971 by the fastest driver in qualifying going first and following down the line. Some times it was an advantage to going first, hoping the road would be the cleanest with the less ruts and derbies.( Sometimes not !)  Ted Trevor would be off first :

Flat tire slowed Ted into a third place finish

Reeves Callaway was off next,

Reeves Callaway at the start line 1971 PPHC

Not far into the course Reeves’s turbo broke spilling hot oil onto cylinder heads.  . “You should have seen the flames!  I stopped , jumped out and put my helmet over the flaming exhaust pipe.”  

Things were off to a bad start for the Crown Mfg. team and the dune buggy class overall.  Alex Dearborn up next :

Time of 15:56.680  good for 4th place
Dick Rayer on the way up
Dick’s time of 16.03.740 6th place

Wally Drew # 33 , below:

A little sideways and one handed, nice helmet Wally !

The seventh dune buggy to the top was Wally Drew with a time of 15:44.40 making him the fastest, up to that point.  Just one more driver to go. John Whitfield the guy that didn’t qualify and was allowed to run on race day by a drivers vote.

Winner of the 1971 Dune Buggy Class John Whitfield

With a time of 15:10.49 the winner of the FIRST and only Dune Buggy Class was John Whitfield in his Meyers Manx dune buggy running a 2180 VW motor.  (On a side note a Meyers Manx Dune Buggy also won the first Baja 1000 !)

Results for the 1971 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Dune Buggy Class

Fitting that a Meyers Manx with Volkswagen power would win the Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak. After all it was, the car that started the whole dune buggy craze. The overall class times were fairly close and the dune buggy class was competitive within itself. Compared to the other classes, Stock Car winner Ak Miller in a 1970 Mustang, with time of 14:18.61 and Four-Wheel Utility Class winner Scot Marlatt in a Jeep CJ-5, with a time 14:35.90, the buggies were slower and the field size was much smaller.

1971 would be the only Dune Buggy class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The organization would bring back the Championship Class ( Open Wheel) , in 1972, allowing VW/ Corvair sand rail type race cars to run in two classes, with divisions split by engine sizes .

Winners and losers .

One and done for the dune buggy class, but the off -road/ truck class would carry on for many years. The Pikes Peak Hill Climb has been known for trying out new innovations in racing from the beginning. Cars running tank and airplane engines, dune buggies, semi-trucks and now the electric cars and motorcycles. The Dune Buggy Class was a good idea and it attracted new drivers from California . The 1971 dune buggy drivers would go on to encourage other west coast racers, like Rick and Roger Mears, Gary Lee Kanawyer and Bill Brister to compete at future Pikes Peak Hill Climb races.  The winner would have to been the organization for being brave and bold enough to true new ideas. The loser was, sadly only one year for the Dune Buggy Class.

1971 was a good year on Pikes Peak and it started a new trend of drivers who would challenge “The Race to the Clouds’ in the future.  Roger Mears would take overall class wins in 1972 and 1973 in the new class structure beating the higher horsepower traditional upright, sprint and championship cars.  But that is another story, for now, so long and I hope you enjoyed the two part story on the 1971 Dune Buggy Class at Pikes Peak.

 

 

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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 Pikes Peak Snow Run

When did it start ?

The Pikes Peak Snow run was an annual event to race a group of motorcycles from Glen Cove up to the summit of Pikes Peak on New Years Day. Some say it all started as a bar bet, in Manitou Springs in the 1920’s .  How many other great ideas have started from a few adult beverages, many is my guess. For the Pikes Peak Snow Run the question was, could you take a motorcycle all the way to the top, in the dead of winter and  who can do it the fastest?  (Crazy  wasn’t it ! )

In the early years it was done on New Year’s Eve and later changed to New Year’s day. The start of the race would be at Glen Cove seven miles from the summit of Pikes Peak. The local motorcycle clubs would run the show and try keep track of the riders. There can be several weather patterns on Pikes Peak at any given time.  Snow at Glen Cove, fog at Devils Playground and sunny at the summit and all those above switched around and mixed up to include, wind, rain, sleet, hail and perhaps a little sunshine.

Harry’s Roamers M.C. 

The Harry’s Roamers Motorcycle Club of Denver was the driving force behind the run in the early years before WW2. The earliest written article that I have been able to find  about the race comes from” The Motorcyclist” magazine in 1938.

From’ The Motorcyclist” magazine 1938

Some years all the bikes would make it to the top,  some years  only one or two and some years the mountain would win. In the beginning the number of bikes was low from a few to perhaps as many as twenty or thirty.

From “The Motorcyclist” magazine 1940

After WW2  it seems different motorcycle clubs carried the weight of the race. The Pikes Peak Comets and the Dusters M.C. are mentioned the most.

Those who make it and those who don’t.

Most of the motorcycles were stock and the regular transportation of the riders. The event was more about the fun then the actual racing.  Local newspaper accounts are hard to come by. The Snow Run competed with the College Football Bowl game results for column space the following day. Even results from the motorcycle magazines from the day are limited. By the 1950’s this was a big event with up to a 100 riders plus,. Still considered for the most part a local event with racers nearby showing up to test themselves against mother nature and the mountain.

Pikes Peak Snow Run trophy 1955 Best Sportsmanship Ray Koch

Classes were broken up my engine size with professionals and  amateurs classes

Every bike imaginable competed, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, BSA, etc..  The history of the motorcycle unfolded right there on Pikes Peak for the 50 years the Snow Run was allowed.

Mass starts in the 70s

As the road got better and many families were on the second generation of riders at the Snow Run, the class sizes increased dramatically .

Robert Talbot #44 in the lower center in 1971

Robert Talbot raced this iconic race in the 1970’s and has a replica of his  !971 Yamaha Snow Run bike at his museum in Camel California.

http://www.mototalbott.com/

The race would go from calm to chaos in the first few hundred feet.

Above three pictures are from the 1975 Pikes Peak Snow Run start line at Glen Cove

Coming to it’s end

By the 1980’s the race was getting to be a handful to control. Plenty of people wanting to ride but not many to help setup and control the race. The huge elephant in the room was working with the City of Colorado Springs who owned the road and Forest Department.  The end was near.

Event poster for the 1981 Snow Run

The poster says it all !!

Not for the Rose parade on TV types-for the riders with enough grit to prepare for the cold and wanting a treasured experience.

The last record I have of the race comes from the Gazette Telegraph newspaper in 1982.  Richard Dostal of Layfette Colorado, B.Theil,  King of Denver, Blake of Colorado Springs and Brewer of Lakewood were all winners. Yes, even when results were given it was tough to figure it out. (You try getting times at 14,000 feet and 30 below temps with winds of 30mph plus)

The race had run it’s course, starting out as a drunken bet and running for 50 years, the Pikes Peak Snow Run had changed the lives of the thousands of racers that had the gall to take a motorcycle in the dead of winter to the top of a  mountain.

If you have additional pictures or stories from the Pikes Peak Snow Run, please contact me. Over time I hope to update this post with a more complete story.