|August 22, 2012 - Pikes Peak!|
One of the world's best known races, and it's in our backyard. So Janel, Brandon and I headed for the 2012 running to check it out. It's been in the back of my mind as a "possible", but I've never thought I would have the nerve. It's one thing to run a rally and balance risk vs reward, but on a "known" course like this it's a flat-out time trial. With some big penalties for mistakes.
Dave Kern used to run with me at track days years ago and always made me feel timid and slow - he has set records on the mountain. But watching the event, the most obvious thing was the number of amateurs in the event. We could usually identify the ones that wouldn't make it to the top, either due to a lack of talent or an over-abundance of enthusiasm. Still, it did get me thinking about the possibility. The event is within the range of mere mortals, and the Time Attack division is essentially for rally cars complete with navigators. One thing that was kind of cool is that Andrew Comrie-Picard was running, and he's a Targa mainstay. I've also met winner Rhys Millen in the past.
If you've been reading the motorsport news, you know that there were a couple of extreme accidents this year. One was a 1400 hp car that got a stuck throttle almost immediately and went spearing off into the trees at well over 100 mph. That's a bit frightening and I do wonder what happened mechanically. More frightening and closer to my imagination was an Evo that took a dive off a cliff and rolled a long, long way down the mountain.
That latter one has me looking at the cage in the Targa Miata. There are a few things I'd like to change after living with it for so long, and looking at the shattered remains of the Evo has put that a little higher up the priority list. We'll see what comes about.
Very few of the Unlimited monsters did well this year. Only two finished - a Ford RS200 Group B rally car and the Palatov D4 shown here, which took first place. The D4 is an interesting little car technically, but more interesting to me is how they got to the event. They took a similar crowdsourced approach to our own, although it was significantly more successful in terms of money raised. There's no scale on their fundraising thermometer, but the top is $175,000. I'm going to be spending some time trying to figure out exactly what they did that worked so well, although some differences are fairly apparent - the Palatov site is a very popular one and the cars they build are quite a bit more expensive than our little Miatas. Also, Pike's Peak is a higher profile event than the Targa Newfoundland.
One interesting difference is that the team blog was restricted to sponsors only until after the race. It's a great way to make your sponsors part of the team and treat them like insiders, but I would also expect it to cut down on a certain level of sponsorship. I'm going to keep looking through their blog to see what I can learn from the approach.
Overall, an interesting weekend for a bunch of different reasons. I have looked at the rules, and thanks to our engine swap we'd probably have to run in Open class against a number of purpose-built vehicles like the D4. Well, we wouldn't expect to win anyhow!
Photo by Ben Padolsky. It's not the best one he took all weekend, but it illustrated my point nicely.