The 1971 Dune Buggy Class
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
A Boulder Colorado resident, raced car number 43 , with a rear mounted Porsche engine.
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.
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.
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 :
Reeves Callaway was off next,
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 :
Wally Drew # 33 , below:
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.
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 !)
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.