2010 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Adventure

AMS Performance Hill Climb EVO 2010 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

Where to begin? So many things happened this year at Pikes Peak. We were at tech about a week ago today, yet it feels like an eternity ago. But, I suppose technical inspection is as good a place to start as any.

Dave had arrived back from Chicago with a new engine, new rear diff and reinstalled wiring harness – all things that had been summarily destroyed in the unplanned CORE Evo BBQ (i.e. piston through the block resulting in fireball). We arrived for tech in Colorado Springs just in time. Passed with flying colors and headed in to the driver’s meeting. Excitement about the record breaking was already abuzz, particularly since another few miles of the road had been paved (from Boulder Park up to the summit); effectively resulting in a faster course.

Wednesday began the tireless practice schedule of getting up at 2:30 am to head up the hill. We got 2 runs in the middle section before the timing belt broke. Car went straight from the mountain to SCR Performance for a cylinder head replacement. It was an all-nighter and the crew then scurried from Loveland straight to Devil’s Playground for practice day 2. Just one run on practice day 2 … and low oil pressure reared its ugly head. Car went straight from the mountain to Tobz Performance for another all-nighter to, sadly, put the stock motor back in. We missed practice on Friday because we simply couldn’t get the new engine in place and onto the dyno for a new tune in time to make it. Hopes were raised a bit as Martin, Tobz & Mitch had their way with the Evo on the dyno. Horsepower was high and turbo lag wasn’t too bad with the stock Mitsu engine and Forced Performance turbo.

We headed up the mountain on Sunday morning still reeling. With one problem after another and things not going particularly smooth for us at any point this year, we were partially thinking “what next?” and partially thinking “who cares what’s next, it’s a miracle we’re taking the start line”. The green flag waved and we were off. Things were going exceedingly well, Dave was in the zone. We screamed through Picnic Grounds, we floated through 11 Mile, we were coming up on the Ski Area…

This video says it all and so I’ll let it do the talking (Go to 3:31 on the timer):

… we come around this tight right corner at the Ski Area quite aggressively and fast (a testament to the run up until that point I’m pleased to say) and then right as we pass the videographer you can hear the clutch go (… hear poor little Evo shudder as Dave tries to shift) .

AMS Performance Hill Climb EVO 2010 Pikes Peak International  Hill  Climb

AMS Performance Hill Climb EVO 2010 Pikes Peak International  Hill   Climb
We stumbled and lost a lot of time immediately after; contemplating what we should do. Proper use of the car’s gearing and power is what allows you to pull out of the power-slide on dirt. Should we continue on, sliding through corners knowing we might slide right off the mountain without the ability to get the car into its powerband to pull out of a slide if we need it? As we discussed it (literally – still hauling up the Peak and taking corners we contemplated our fate between my navvie calls) we remained in 3rd until we came to a quite steep hairpin. The car nearly stalled, Dave shoved it into 2nd and we creeped out of the hairpin. This gave us a little hope. If we can RPM-match shift between 2nd and 3rd we may just be able to pilot it up to the summit. Dave started to get the hang of driving under the conditions we were faced with. And, call me twisted and addicted to a nice shot of adrenaline, but it was actually, well, kind of fun. We’d whip around a hairpin and the car would bog down terribly while we waited for the turbo to spool, but when it did, that feeling of g-force slamming you back into your seat was a thing of joy – life worth living. It only lasted about 4 seconds before the pinging of the rev limiter like nails on a chalkboard, but I giggled almost every time that turbo kicked in. After a week of awful thrashing, you’ve got to take solace in the little things. 🙂

AMS Performance Hill Climb EVO 2010 Pikes Peak International  Hill    Climb

We ended up in third place with a 12:55. While not a terrible time in the grand scheme of things, pretty dismal compared to what we were hoping for and what the car, running optimally, is capable of. Our Time Attack record still stands at an 11:48. As usual – no boost, no clutch, no whatever – Dave drove the piss out of that Evo and I’m a proud navvie/wife. Live and learn, make it faster next time. Yet again, though I wanted to curl up in a ball and forget this ever happened a few days ago, I find myself planning for and excited about next year already. We want our shot at the mountain again…

We would like to thank our 2010 sponsors for their support, both in helping us in getting to the race, and in keeping us there! Special thanks to the guys from AMS Performance for coming out to lend a hand and to Aaron Searle for his awesome dedication throughout the week.

  • NOS Energy Drink
  • AMS Performance
  • CBRD Speedfactory
  • Built-by-Bones & SCR Performance
  • Forced Performance Turbochargers
  • Shepherd Transmissions
  • Tobz Performance
  • TiAL Sport

David & Allison Kern

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