Rain Causes Rough Finish for Mason-Moffatt at Pikes Peak 87th Running of Hill Climb Post Race
Colorado Springs, CO - After Qualifying with the second fastest time in the ProTruck Division, Driver Dave Mason and Co-Driver Mark Moffatt were feeling good about their chances in Sunday's 87th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, held in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado Springs, CO. The #265 Eleven Western Builders Ford F150 ProTruck was one of the last vehicles scheduled to leave the starting line for the 12.42 mile run up America's most famous mountain. Racecars began leaving the starting line one by one at 9am and it wasn't until nearly 4pm and over 160 vehicles later that Mason took the green flag. A major rain storm had begun moving into the area just as he began his run. Mason had to contend with the 156 turn course under extreme rain conditions.
Despite the rain, Mason and Moffatt were navigating the course flawlessly. From the Start-Line to Glen Cove (halfway) Mason had posted a time of 6:20.337 good enough for 3rd place. The rain, thunder and lightning had increased from a hard shower at the start to an extreme downpour. Mason was using all his years of racing experience to stay focused on driving the course, while getting pelted with rain and constant changes to the handling of the truck, that were vastly different from the previous days under dry weather. As they continued through second half, Mason - Moffatt passed a rag back and forth in an attempt to maintain some level of vision on the quickly changing course conditions.
As the weather began to take its toll, Mason had dropped to a 5th place running time of 10:16.038 upon reaching the area known as Devil's Playground. Crossing from the pavement back onto the dirt Mason-Moffatt approached the final few miles of the course. Their pace was slowed by the increasing weather, but hopes remained high for a solid finish. As Mason entered one of the final turns his truck hit an extremely slick patch of road sending him into an inside rock wall. The left front took on suspension damage, bound up, and overturned the Eleven Western Builders truck. The truck came to rest on the Co-Driver's side after flipping over one-and-a-half times.
The wreck would place a disappointing end for Western Motorsports to a week filled with confidence in their chances to win. Mason had been one of the fastest and most consistent competitors for all three days of practice.
"The course was getting really bad as the rain was absolutely pouring," said Mason. "I drove in there at about fifteen percent less speed than I normally would. The Truck just got loose and I knew we were going to touch the side of the rock wall. But I thought we would come right out of it. It was just a freak deal where the truck hooked and bound up and next thing we were going over."
"It was an unlucky situation to get caught in the rain. And this certainly wasn't a good point's race for us. But mostly I'm disappointed for this Western Motorsports crew who worked so hard and put so much time into preparing for this race. I wanted to bring them a win," added Mason. "I'd be the first to say if we didn't have a truck to win, but we truly had a great truck. It was handling perfectly and the motor was climbing altitude without any issues. It's just very tough to end a week of being here and running so well in this way."
From the Co-Driver view... ""Dave [Mason] was really on top of his game. Everything started off perfect. We were keeping up such good momentum and I was thinking for sure this would be a great run," said Moffatt. "I was totally shocked when we started going over. Dave wasn't over driving it. The truck just got loose and I knew we would hit a bit, but it didn't seem like anything that would be a big deal at all. I really don't remember much after we hit. Next thing I knew we were on our side and the truck was wrecked. Even after I was still in shock thinking how did that happen?"
Racing is often a brutal game. Only one person leaves with a claim to victory. But at Pikes Peak a bad day can mean more than a bent up race car. Thankfully Mason-Moffatt had no physical injuries after their crash, but what may have been damaged was the teams Championship Point's chase. Western Motorsports entered Pikes Peak in 2nd place to Aaron Guthrie, who ended up winning the event. They will have to battle back at the next ProTruck event August 19-23 for the Vegas to Reno race, a multi-day race from Las Vegas, Nevada to Reno, Nevada that spans over 1000 miles.
With less than 30-days before the next race, the Western Motorsports crew will be working hard to repair the truck and change it over from a hill climb setup to an endurance desert setup.
"We will be ready," said Crew Chief Josh Nelson. "We just have to keep our heads up, move on from Pikes Peak and get ready for a great run at Vegas to Reno. We have a great team and great drivers. We'll be ready."
About Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: www.PPIHC.com The "Race to the Clouds" is America's second-oldest motor sports race behind the Indianapolis 500, and has been staged since 1916. The race is run on a 12.42 mile course that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak summit. The 2009 event had 11 classes and featured a variety of automotive, semi truck, exhibition, open wheel, super stock car, pro truck and motorcycle classes with a field approaching of over 160 competitors.