Pikes Peak spotlight on David Donner

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David Donner ready to tackle Falken Tire Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - David Donner pushed his Donner-Dykstra open wheeler onto the scales at the Auto Craft Shop at Fort Carson on Monday and watched the dials ...

David Donner ready to tackle Falken Tire Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - David Donner pushed his Donner-Dykstra open wheeler onto the scales at the Auto Craft Shop at Fort Carson on Monday and watched the dials spin.

Before tech inspection for Saturday's 80th running of the Falken Tire Pikes Peak International Hill Climb even opened, Donner was already first in line.

"Being first out here really doesn't mean anything,'' Donner said. "Now being first on Saturday means something.''

Donner didn't grow up on Pikes Peak - it just seems that way.

His father Robert Donner Jr. raced Porches in the old sports car class back in the 1950s.

His older brother Bobby III won the Open Wheel division in 1989 before being killed in an accident at the 1989 Teller County race.

David won the open wheel division in 1991, covering the 12.42-mile course in 11 minutes, 12.42 seconds. He was third in 1992, third again in 1994, fifth in 1995, second in 1996, third in 1997 and then didn't race again until last year where he hit a rock in the road just above the gravel pit and ripped out the entire suspension on his car's left side. He still finished third.

He planned to drive a ProRally car this year, but when those plans fell apart, he pulled the old Donner-Dykstra out of the garage six weeks ago and started turning wrenches.

"We rebuilt the whole underneath on the right side and went through the engine,'' he said. "We were running strong until I hit that rock last year and we could have been in it at the finish line. There is no reason not to think that we won't be there again this year.''

No reason at all.

And like every other driver, Donner is anxious to put his car on the starting line for Tuesday's first practice session.

For the first time in the history of the race, drivers will face a mile of paved road before they get down to the dirt road that has made the Race to the Clouds world famous.

"We won't really know what conditions we will face until we get there,'' Donner said. "But I'm use to road racing on asphalt so it won't be a big deal. In fact, if it lets you get into the groove earlier, it could make the race faster.''

After Donner rolled off the scales, the parade that followed showed the diversity of this year's Hill Climb. Eddy Seitenbecher's Super Stocker was next. The electric car of Tim Eckert was third. Akaba Masayuki's High Performance Showroom Stocker was next.

Per Eklund's Unlimited Saab rocked the walls when the Swede fired the engine.

"We don't have any more horsepower than last year,'' said Eklund, who finished second last year in the Pikes Peak Open classification despite taking the checkered flag with a flat tire and a broken gear box. "But we do have different aerodynamics this year. Maybe that will make us go faster.''

It's everyone's dream.

-ppitc-

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Series HILLCLIMB