Driving flat-out up Pikes Peak is already incredibly challenging. It’s over 12 miles of uphill driving with 156 turns, many of which are bounded by sheer rock and vast areas of nothing into which you could plummet. It’s hard. That’s why doing it without the benefit of a handy little sense called “vision” is so amazing, but that’s pretty much what pal-of-Jalopnik Robb Holland did in this fog-saturated test run up the hill.
I’ll preface this clip with a quote about it from Robb:
“I normally wouldn’t run in those conditions as it’s a huge risk and you don’t really learn much. However time on the mountain is so limited that you can’t afford to not run.”
We are running a new car to try to take back my FWD record from Acura and we have some stiff competition, so we need to push hard and take a few risks to make that happen.”
The car is an Audi S3 with upgraded TCR spec suspension and all of those 500 horses going to the front wheels. Bluewater Performance built the car, and specifically needed this run to gather data on how it performed at 10 to 12,000 feet, which you can’t really simulate.
Here’s the clip. Robb maintains the visibility you see (or don’t see) out the window is pretty much exactly what he saw:
Holy crap. How the hell do you do that? Visibility is, what, ten feet in front of the car, at most? It’s like driving up a mountain into someone’s transition to a dream, or vaporized clam chowder.
It looks like the secret is memorization, guessing, and luck. Here’s how Robb described it:
“The video is pretty much exactly what I was seeing. When visibility goes to zero in the video, it was zero for me too. I have the course memorized so I knew what was coming up but with no visibility you have no references to know how fast you’re going. So its a lot of educated guessing to figure out where to brake.”
“On the bright side running with no visibility meant that I couldn’t see the 1,000 ft drop-offs on the way up. So I had that going for me.”
This is a little hard to watch. If you’ve been neglecting your squat exercises, you’ll be clenching your butt muscles enough watching this that I bet everyone who sees it will have a 15 percent more pert ass afterwards.