Thanks to Jack Davidson, Multimedia Specialist at, for producing this awesome video of our record attempt.

The weather at Pikes Peak is notorious for turning nasty later in the day (more on this later), so the strategy is to get a later start – but not too late. We nailed this with a starting spot that should have had me starting around 11:00-ish, but once again, the hill does not treat rookies kindly.

A delay to getting the motorcycles off in the morning and several delays for the early cars put my start time back to closer to noon. I wasn’t too worried, as the weather seemed to be holding and the road temp was climbing. The delays also gave us more time to keep our Pirellis in their tire blankets, getting them dialed into their temperature operating window.

Except they weren’t. Our overworked-at-high-altitude generator began sounding like an asthmatic hamster on a treadmill shortly before it completely gave up the ghost and called it quits.

Best laid plans and all that.

The Race Gives Back; Competitors Come To Our Aid

Fortunately the PPIHC paddock is a very friendly place. I think it’s a “brothers in arms” type of mentality. We are not racing each other so much as we’re racing the mountain. First, my buddy Tony Brakohiapa’s crew allowed us to plug a pair of our blankets into their generator, which at least allowed us to keep the rear tires warm, which is most important on a front-wheel-drive car. Then Rhys Millen’s crew graciously let us use their pit spot and generator after Rhys took off for his run. It probably helped that I let Rhys use my spare HANS earlier in the week since his was with his Global Rallycross car.

Between all of the help we got from our competitors, combined with the later start time and warm temperatures, I was able to start the run with the best car I had all week.

It All Comes Together; Break The Front-Drive Record

After the whole build up to the weekend the run itself is somewhat anti-climatic. Ten minutes, 56.8 seconds of absolute focus punctuated by brief moments of sheer terror and then a checkered flag and an (unofficial until it can be officially verified) new FWD record at Pikes Peak.

Crossing the line at the top I now understand why almost every competitor gives a fist pump as they cross the line. The sense of accomplishment you feel finishing this race is unlike anything I have experienced in motorsports. It’s definitely not the feeling of conquering the mountain. (I think only guys like Sebastian Loeb or Ari Vatanen can legitimately claim to have conquered it.)

It’s more the feeling you’d get by smacking a hungry lion in the ass and running away. You’re alive, sure, but you know that things easily could have gone the other way and you’d have been lion turds by the end of the day.

However crossing the line did not mean my adventures for the day were done. There were still several dozen cars behind me, so I knew I was going to be up at the top of the hill for quite a while longer. The crew at PPIHC kindly serves food to everyone who makes it up to keep us from starving, including the world famous Pikes Peak high-altitude doughnuts.

This year there seemed to be a bunch of issues with the later running cars and one Semi making it all the way to the top. One by one, several of the cars behind me crashed or broke down. The big issue with that, other than the drivers’ safety, of course, is that racers on course behind the incident get red flagged, turned around and forced to head back down the hill to re-start. All of that takes time.

Slicks On Snow; Grip is Highly Overrated

Us early runners were stuck up on the mountain for more than a few hours. Not a huge deal as it gave me a chance to chat with a bunch of the other guys, all super cool and interesting. Except as the hours wore on, the weather started to look a bit, uh, gnarly with a continued chance of gnarly for the remainder of the day.

One minute it’s bright sunshine and the next you can’t see the car in front of you through the fog. Except it’s not fog. Because we are at 14,000 feet what I thought was fog was actually a cloud! I was in a fucking cloud! And we all know what comes in clouds: rain! Which of course turned to hail, which then turned to snow all in a matter of minutes.

Once the cloud passed and I could see again, I realized there was almost an inch of snow on the ground and I had to get down the mountain on cold slick tires.

This was the most batshit crazy part of my day. I was sliding sideways at three miles an hour with no control whatsoever, on 14 percent grades, on the edge of a thousand-foot drop off, on iced-over roads, with racing slicks. I wish I had turned my video camera on for the drive down. After almost 45 minutes of sheer terror I finally made it back down to the start line.

I keep hearing that Pikes Peak is a bucket list item to either race or watch, and after coming here I fully agree. This is one of the greats, equal in every way to the Isle of Man or the Nürburgring as some of the most Batshit Crazy racing in the world.

Can’t wait to do it again next year.

Lastly (and in the spirt of PPIHC camaraderie) Tate Poorman crewman from the Apex Auto Works Team that built and ran the Exocet racecar that finished 26th overall, passed away suddenly just days before the race. He left behind a wife and six kids.

The Apex Auto Works team and Exomotive have donated the hood from their race car, which has been signed by many of the competitors of this year’s PPIHC, to be auctioned off on eBay. All proceeds will go to Tate’s wife and kids. The auction can be found here.