Pikes Peark race report

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Of the 79 cars and trucks that started the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Tuesday, 18 failed to finish and eight of those were former champions. Herzog Motorsports driver Larry Ragland finished with...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Of the 79 cars and trucks that started the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Tuesday, 18 failed to finish and eight of those were former champions.

Herzog Motorsports driver Larry Ragland finished with the fastest time, an 11:17.66, in the race’s new High-Tech Truck and SUV division.

But the other big names faltered. It was one of those days on the mountain and it began with Rod Millen’s failure to reach the finish line in the Unlimited Division. Millen came to Pikes Peak to break his race record (10:04.06) and possibly eclipse the magical 10-minute mark. It didn’t happen. He had a record run going when the turbocharger in his Toyota Tacoma Truck malfunctioned near George’s Corner, about half way through the 12.42-mile course. He had covered the 5.5 miles from The Start Line to Glen Cove in a blistering 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

"The disappointing part is that we came here to capitalize on the race conditions, which were very good. We had a record run going and unfortunately the turbocharger had problems."

"The Tacoma was running the best I've ever had up here. The set up and the handling could not have been better," Millen said.

Others felt his pain in a big way, Leonard Vahsholtz, an 11-time winner of the race, lost a wheel on his Sprint car. Bobby Regester, the qualifying champion in the Super Stock Car, wrecked. Gary Lee Kanawyer, looking for his sixth Open Wheel championship failed to make it to the mountain’s 14,110-foot summit. Other former champions who broke down or wrecked included Randy Schranz, Koichi Horiuchi, Nobuhiro Tajima and David Donner.

But there were some great moments on Pikes Peak as well. John Wells, maker of the revolutionary Wells Coyote open wheel cars, won for the first time in 27 attempts. SAAB driver Per Eklund, the 1999 European Rally Cross champion, set a new record in the Pikes Peak Open Division with a time of 11:21.58. And Rhys Millen, Rod’s son, broke his own record in the High

Performance Showroom Stock class with a run of 12:04.61. Big Rig driver Mike Ryan broke his own (single axle) record by topping the summit in 13:39.02. Bruce Canepa set the tandem axle record,14:34.41.

GM/Herzog Motorsports drivers Shaun Palmer and Larry Ragland set the standards in two new divisions. Palmer won new Luxury Sedan Division, piloting his 2000 Cadillac Sedan to the

summit in 14:34.66. Ragland won the new High-Tech Truck and SUV class in 11:17.66, the fastest time of the day.

In the motorcycles division, Don Bruner of Colorado Springs, Colo., set a record in the 250 Pro class (12:52.94). Eddie Mulder, Auga Dulce, Calif., charged to the clouds in a record time of 13:47.10, Bobby Parr, Mt Pleasant, Tex., blasted to a new Pro Quad record (12:37.86) and the Sidecar team of Anders Nillson (driver) and Tom Grinberg of Sweden raised the mark to 13:53.38.

Pikes Peak Open: For Swede Per Eklund, dreams really do come true. "This has been my dream. I started rally racing 36 years ago, and this is my biggest," Eklund said of his victory.

For a short time, Paul Choiniere held PPO record. He finished an 11:26.05 run in his Hyundai Tiburon a few minutes before Eklund came screeching across the finish line in 11:21.58. Once out of the car Choiniere greeted Eklund with a handshake and a "nice job" for the winner.

"This was the best I could hope for," Choiniere said of his second-place finish. "Coming into this week I had high hopes, which a lot of people did. But my high hopes were reached."

Defending division champion, Jean Pierre Richelmi finished fifth with a 12:46.24. Richelmi suffered a flat tire a little over a mile into the course and spun twice, knocking the back bumper loose on Lancia Delta Integrale. He drove the rest of the race with a flat left rear tire.

High Performance Showroom Stock: Rhys Millen fared better than his father, setting a record in the High Performance Showroom Stock division in his 2000 Mitsubishi EVO. His run of 12:04.61 obliterated the HPSS record he set last year by nearly nine seconds. If not for some excessive tire wear, Millen thought he could have been quicker.

Paraplegic driver Evan Evans (Herzog) set an unofficial record of 13:34.63 for a diesel-powered vehicle. He drove a 2000 GMC Duramax Sierra Diesel and placed fourth.

"I am on top. This has been a dream for five years," Evans said.

Super Stock Truck: It happened just like they wanted. Chad DeVries and father Richard DeVries finished one-two in the Super Stock Truck division with respective times of 12:26.35 and 12:48.69.

"You can't imagine," Chad said of his happiness. "My dad's my idol. That's all I can say about it. To beat him is a great honor. He's helped me so much and my mom and my crew and the people around me....that's what this thing is all about."

Exhibition: Barry Sadler made it to the top in his Dr. Performance 1997 Dodge 1-Ton Pickup in

16:19.17. Randy Schranz, in a propane-powered 2000 Cobra Kit car did not finish, nor did Tim Eckert in his Electric car.

Luxury Sedan: Extreme athlete Shawn Palmer added another extreme accomplishment to his resume with a win in the Luxury Sedan class at Pikes Peak. His run of 14:34.66 set the record in the new class.

Exhibition Quads: Kevin Gigot and John Stallworth got to the top, but not in the flashy fashion they had expected. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, both Gigot and Stallworth suffered nagging mechanical problems that hampered their runs. Gigot bettered Stallworth with a time of 13:03.09.

Sidecar Swedes: Anders Nillson and Tom Grinberg came to America to race at Pikes Peak. They did more. They raced and they conquered and they set a record. The Swedish rookie's Sidecar division time of 13:53.38 was over six seconds faster than the record. "So wonderful," said Nillson, gazing across the Colorado mountaintops. "We drink a lot of beer tonight."

Pro Quad: Bobby Parr of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, won the Pro Quad division with a record time of 12:37.86. Ray Storm of Colorado Springs took second with a time of 12:49.52.

"I'm up here and as always that's goal number one," Storm said, on a day when so many didn't achieve that primary objective. "It's one of those things, the mountain let's you drive it if it wants."

Sprints: John Wells has chased a Pikes Peak dream for almost half his life. The driver and master car builder ended the chase at the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb when he captured the Sprint Car Classification on Tuesday. "I guess I finally got it right,'' said the 56-year-old Wells who ran America's most famous mountain for the first time 27 years ago. "It was along time coming.''

Over nearly three decades, Wells’ cars have been driven to victory by some of the biggest names in hill-climb racing. Leonard Vahsholtz, Gary Lee Kanawyer, Bobby Regester, Stan Kossen, Billy Brister and even Al Unser Jr. rode Wells-designed cars to the winner's circle. "It was a little frustrating to watch cars you built and cars you had driven beat you,'' Wells said. "I never considered myself a great driver, but I guess I am stubborn.''

Wells clocked 12 minutes, 25.51 second across the 12.42-mile course to take the title. Jimmy Keeney, 19, finished second in 12:31.01.

Stock cars: Clint Vahsholtz won his fifth straight Stock Car championship, but he needed a little luck and some possible divine intervention to get the job done. "If we win it, the Lord was looking out for us,'' said Vahsholtz, who crossed the finish line in 12:04.66 despite having a flat rear tire on his 1999 Ford Mustang. "We took a big gamble with the tires, and they just barely made it.''

Steve Goeglein finished second at 12:22.29 while former three-time champion Bobby Regester and veteran Gay Smith, both of whom has been running right with Vahsholtz during practice

failed to finish the race. "I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't finish,'' Vahsholtz said. "Everyone works hard up here, and finishing is the payoff for that work.''

Open Wheel: Jimmy Olson could only wait for the final outcome. Olson, in just his second year on Pikes Peak was the Open Wheel Class leader on the summit with a time of 11:26.27, but favorite and open wheel legend Gary Lee Kanawyer was still on the course.

When a race spotter reported on the radio that Kanawyer was stopped, Olson finally allowed himself another breath. "You never want anyone to break down,'' Olson said. "But the mountain is tough and it's a feat in itself to make it to the top. Olson stopped the clock at 11:26.27 more than ½ minute faster than runner-up Barry Isaac who finished in 11:59.44."Winning here goes beyond a dream,'' Olson said. "Just being able to race here was a dream.''

High-Tech Trucks and SUV: Larry Ragland of Phoenix, Ariz. won his fourth Pikes Peak title and also posted the fastest time of the day clocking 11:17.66 in his 2000 GMC Envoy. His time also set a new classification record. "I love my truck,'' Ragland said. "I made a couple of mistakes, but it's amazing how the Vortec Inline-6 makes up for driver error. "There is still a lot of room for improvement, but only for the driver.''

Big rigs: Mike Ryan kept a stranglehold on his Big Rig title, as the N. Hollywood, Calif. resident horsed his Freightliner Century Class ST to the finish line in a classification record time kk

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Series Hillclimb
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Paul Choiniere , Rhys Millen , Evan Evans , Clint Vahsholtz , David Donner , Bruce Canepa , Rod Millen , Larry Ragland , Eddie M , Nobuhiro Tajima , Jimmy Keeney , Randy Schranz , Mike Ryan , Steve Goeglein