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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The Pikes Peak Dune Buggy Class 1971 (part 1)

Only PPHC program to have a dune buggy on the cover

 

Newspaper articles prior to race day from 1971

Pikes Peak as a laboratory for automotive construction and experimentation.  

Big changes can result with big rewards. The folks running the 1971 hill climb race certainly were shaking up the program. Gone was the Championship Class that had ran for the last 47 years. In it’s place would be Dune Buggies, Jeeps and Motorcycles, the so called recreational vehicles of the day. The Stock Car class was still included, now called the “Late Model Stock Car” and of course, they had the largest purse.

The Baja 1000 race in Mexico had been a huge success in the late 1960s, and off-road racing was taking over the nation. Pikes Peak had been more associated with the Indy type champ cars and drivers, from almost the beginning. The stock car class was a closer mirror to what was happening in Nascar during the 1960s. Motorcycles had not been back to the hill climb race since 1955. There really wasn’t any classes for the off road racing fans at Pikes Peak Hill Climb until the big change in 1971.  Where would the new classes draw their drivers from, would this new idea even  work ?

The 1971Dune Buggy Class !

Yes, I am a VW fan, so I will be covering what happened in the Dune Buggy class for 1971.  First off, let’s look at the basic rules posted for the class.

Corvair  Porsche and Volkswagen aircooled engines only. Mid or rear engine placement. Full body with open wheels, Pump gas powered motors only and the car had to have two seats. Strange mention to a Meyers Manx type body. Nice plug for Bruce Meyers, but in 1971 there were literally hundreds of spin off body manufactures of dune buggy bodies.

(Let’s not forget that Ted Trevor and Don Wilcox had already taken dune buggies to Pikes Peak in 1966 . Quick rule changes, all but outlawed the buggies until they got there own class for 1971)

Entries for the new class.

1971 class entries Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Not as big of class as the organizers where hoping for the field. ( A class of at least twelve cars were expected ) The second surprise was the engine selection . Corvair engines with Turbo’s was the selection of most of the entries.  Ted Trevor was back and with him was a team of three Deserter dune buggies.

“Crown Manufacturing Team”

The team would consist of Ted Trevor, Alex Dearborn and Reeves Callaway.  All three would bring their own specialties to the mix. Ted was the Corvair engine wizard and owner of Crown Manufacturing.  Alex was the man behind the Deserter race cars and dune buggies and Reeves Callaway was the all around race car driver and engineering specialist.

Gazette Telegraph article July 1971

Alex Dearborn 

The following words are from Alex and his recollections on the race at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1971

Alex’s Deserter was used as a test mule for various suspension and wheel combos at the factory location

“It was a big decision for a small company like our Deserter business 
to mount a Pikes Peak effort” . 

First, there was the distance to the event, then the lack of any 
experience with engine tuning at 7-14,000 feet of thin air. The there was the cost. I had done SCCA road-racing for years, and some small hill climbs, but this was the BIG one! 

We made a deal with Ted Trevor at Crown Manufacturing in California 
(who ran a Corvair-powered Manx at the peak the year prior) to send us 
a Pikes-Peak ready Corvair engine, ready to bolt in. In exchange, we sent him 2 Deserter GS kits. We would run the three cars with Crown 
livery, as a team. We reasoned that Ted’s expertise on the 
modified Corvairs would keep us out of engine-tuning difficulties. 
The Crown engine didn’t arrive in Massachusetts until a week before we 
were to depart for Colorado. We decided to run it in on the 
Autodynamics dyno ,to make sure it was ready……and it seized! 

All the race logistics had long since been made, so we really couldn’t 
scrap the trip. I borrowed a street-tuned 1600cc VW from a customer, 
and headed to Colorado with this in the Deserter GT/GS, along with a handful of Weber jets. 
(Using his slide rule, Ray Caldwell calculated the jetting for the 
altitude, and we never changed these) 

My wife Carol and I drove out in our new Vega GT wagon, arriving a 
week ahead of the event. The new class for “VW-derived race cars” was 
full of some interesting machinery, mostly Corvair powered, and, it seemed, all pretty radical in the power department. It was daunting to survey the staging area on the morning of the first scheduled practice. In peak tradition, our group practiced 1/3 of the 12-mile hill course each of three days, all between sunrise and 8:00 , when the hill opened to the public. There 
was snow on the top by the third day, which turned out to be no big 
deal for me, since the 1600cc VW couldn’t spin those groovy Goodyears 
at 14,000 feet anyway. Each day after official practice, Carol and I 
would pay the toll and drive up in the Vega with the public, as many 
times as we could fit in. Of the 156 corners, many were blind, so the 
30 mph ones looked deceptively similar to the 80 mph ones. Go 30 
through an 80 mph corner and you lose the race. Go 80 through a 30 mph 
corner and, well, we didn’t. The course was all dirt then and no 
guard rails. Unfortunately for us the dirt was well-packed and gave 
great grip, so we could have used a lot more HP. Each evening at 
dinner, Carol would make me draw the course from memory on the place 
mats at the restaurant until I got most of the 160 corners identified. 

MY GS had run flawlessly all week, so I had the great advantage of 
being able to concentrate on learning the course. On race day, when 
the green flag fell I was about as ready as 
could be. The first car I passed was Reeves’ GS, sidelined . Other 
contestants suffered from various mechanical mishaps as well. These, 
along with some “irrational exuberance” cut the field down to size 
enough for me to finish 4th. 

The Deserter was a cut above the normal Dune Buggies of it’s day. A true tube chassis mid-engined race car. For more information on the Deserter line of dune buggies check out the Deserter Owners Group

http://www.bimelliott.com/dog.html

Reeves Callaway

Reeves’ car was much different from the other two Crown MFG team cars. The car was ran mostly in SCCA racing, prior to Pikes Peak. The non- production Deserter dune buggy body had a Group 7 type Can-Am style nose equipped. The Corvair mid mounted engine was turbo charged with water injection and a Porsche cooling fan system running a Hewland gearbox. Upon arrival at Pikes Peak adjustments in turbo boost to run at altitude and an increase in ride height had to be made.

Top Reeves Callaway at the PPHC,, bottom picture practice with the Deserter before heading to Pikes Peak in 1971

To find out more on Reeves Callaway and what he is up to in the racing world today  :

https://www.callawaycars.com/

Ted Trevor

Seven year veteran of Pikes Peak and a winner in 1966 with a Meyers Manx dune buggy. ( With a Corvair rear engine). This time around in 1971 he would be in a yellow Deserter GT running a mid engine Corvair with his companies Turbo adapter kits.  Ted was the hands down favorite going in to practice week and time trials.

Practice makes perfect and Ted wins the time trails in 1971
Ted’s Crown Manufacturing Corvair powered Deserter dune buggy still survives today. Photo from practice at Pikes Peak 1971

 

Check out part two for the remainder of the field and what happens at time trials and race day !

 

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 !