The Trans America Challenge 2018
27 May - 17 June 2018
JUNE 11, 2018
Colorado Springs to Aspen
Hill climb heaven
The big draw for today was the trip to Pike’s Peak, giving the crews the chance to pit themselves and their cars against the 4,302m giant bulging from the Pike Forest.
This hillclimb is a legendary motorsport venue and every year the International Hillclimb makes its way up the series of switchbacks called "The W’s," because of their shape on the side of the mountain. There are in fact over 156 turns from top to bottom and almost everyone is a picture perfect photo opportunity.
The current record holder for the 12.42 miles course is pro’ rally driver Sébastien Loeb, who, in 2013 managed it in a time of 8:13.878 aboard a Peugeot 208 Pikes Peak T16. There wasn’t any timing for the Trans America Challenge crews as they made their way up to the Passage Control though, but it’s safe to say that every one of the old engines were flat out for the entire way.
Brian and Catherine Scowcroft’s Chevy unfortunately didn’t make it. After ten miles they called it a day, turned around and rolled on to the lunch halt. So far they’ve been through three sets of plugs and there’s still a feeling that the fuel / air mixture still isn’t right for the altitude. Tomorrows rest day will give them another crack at getting it sorted for the remainder of the rally.
Cripple Creek, an old gold mining town was where the lunch Time Control was and, after a bite to eat, a look around the museum and a short trip on the steam train the only Regularity of the day began, along a tarmac road past the Florissant Fossil beds.
By now the scenery was changing and on the horizon, a panorama of snow capped peaks began to break through the haze and a quick look at the map book confirmed that this was where we were heading. The Trout Creek Pass, shortly before the Time Control In Brown Dog Cafe in Buena Vista, served as a warm up for the second main act of the day, the mighty Independence Pass, 3,687m which sits right on the Continental Divide.
It was literally all downhill from here into Aspen, and the lovely Hotel Jerome which is where we’ll be spending our last rest day.
With time running out for anyone looking to make a run on the podium, we see that the top three cars are still hanging on to their places. Jim Gately and Tony Brooks are first, David and Jo Roberts are second and Mike and Lorna Harrison are third.
Mick and Grace De Haas and Michael Kershaw and Matthew Smith meanwhile are still in Santa Fe with their Mercedes and Ford Mustang respectively, but they’ve assured us that they’ll be back with us tomorrow night.
John and Nicole Whitelock and Hudson and Mary Lee rejoined the Rally this morning, but in a pair of rental cars. Their competition cars couldn’t be fixed so they are now all packed up and ready to be sent home.
Aspen is a beautiful town. Very cosmopolitan and very welcoming, and there won’t be many who can’t find something to do on the rest day tomorrow.