Colorado Race Teams Tackle Grand Mesa Land's End Hill Climb Promises Excitement and Large Rally Car Field as the Final Event in the CHCA Championship Calendar Grand Junction, CO. - With just a little over a week before the event, the All Wheel...
Colorado Race Teams Tackle Grand Mesa
Land's End Hill Climb Promises Excitement and Large Rally Car Field as the Final Event in the CHCA Championship Calendar
Grand Junction, CO. - With just a little over a week before the event, the All Wheel Drive and Two Wheel Drive Rally car entry lists are beginning to fill up in anticipation of the Ray Thompson's Memorial Land's End Hill Climb to be held just southeast of the Western Colorado town of Grand Junction on August 27 and 28, 2005. As the fifth and final event in the 2005 Colorado Hill Climb Series and the closest event to the Colorado Cog Rally held in Steamboat Springs in September, the Lands End Hill Climb will draw one of the largest Rally car fields of the entire 2005 season.
In the All Wheel Drive class the title race remains fierce despite championship leader Brian Moody and co-driver Grant Hughes edging away from their main competition earlier in the season at Gold Camp Hill Climb held near Victor, CO (1st), and at the penultimate event Buffalo Peaks Hill Climb held near Buena Vista, CO (2nd). The Champagne Motors Audi Team decided to make a full championship push for the 2005 season after winning the Pikes Peak Open class at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and has threatened to win each event since. Champagne Motors is eagerly looking to extend their streak of AWD championships after Aaron McConnell and co-driver Ben Grider took the title in 2004 and Brian Moody and wife/co- driver Erika Lucero won the title in 2003.
Still a very real threat for the AWD championship is the team of Brant Ford and co-driver Rebecca Greek in their Mitsubishi Galant VR4. The Ford/Greek team started the season with commanding performances including a class win at the Temple Canyon Hill Climb held in May outside of Canyon City, CO, and a second in class behind the Gear Up Motorsports team of Mike Whitman and co-driver Bill Westrick at the Continental Divide Hill Climb held outside of Monarch, CO, in early June. After a second at the Gold Camp Hill Climb behind the Champagne Motors team and a fourth at the Buffalo Peaks Hill Climb after mechanical troubles plagued the team, the Ford/Greek team has to come out firing on all cylinders to have a chance at taking the championship.
While the All Wheel Drive championship is being fought between two teams for the top spot the Two Wheel Drive category is a little more open. After beginning to open up a championship lead the Team FDS of Ryan Oerter and Karen Tracy in a Mazda RX7 has been plagued by motor problems that surfaced before and during the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The failure of Team FDS to contend for maximum points in the last two events has left the teams of James Bolin and co-driver Sonny Caughman in a Mitsubishi Eclipse GST and the team of Donny Conley and co-driver Ben Frank in their Dodge Colt Turbo to battle for the championship.
In addition to the championship battles the individual class battles promise to produce some great racing. In the AWD class the K&T Motorsports team of Todd and Ray Moberly plan to return to Lands End in maximum attack mode in their Maarzolf Subaru sponsored WRX as they continue to prepare to contend for the overall victory of the Colorado Cog Rally. A dominating display at Buffalo Peaks that saw the team win the all wheel drive class by over 8 seconds and their win at Land's End last year make the Moberly/Moberly team early favorites for the All Wheel Drive class win. After only running one previous event in the Colorado Hill Climb series Gear Up Motorsports driver Mike Whitman is planning to attempt the Lands End Hill Climb in his ex-World Rally Championship Ford Escort Cosworth. The Whitman/Westrick team won the Continental Divide Hill Climb in preparation for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and so thoroughly enjoyed themselves that Whitman will be attempting the event with an as of yet unannounced co-driver as Westrick will be unable to attend. Rumors continue to fly about the attendance of four times Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Class Champion Jeff Zwart who, if in attendance, will also be a favorite for the all wheel drive class victory.
While the competition for the overall victory in the class will be fierce the AWD class has also hosted some very intense battles for the middle of the field. All season long the L&E Fabrication team of Erik Schmidt and co-driver Mike Rose (Subaru WRX), the No Coast Motorsports team of Steve Bis and co-driver Regina Hutchins (Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX), and the team of Dave and Alison Kern (Mazda 323 GTX) have had intense battles for mid pack supremacy. In the last event just 5 seconds separated third through sixth position and saw two drivers fail to finish their second run on race day as they pushed the limits of their team and their car in search of glory.
The tight competition in the AWD class may end up complicating the championship picture as well. Needing to finish within two places from the Ford/Greek team, the Champagne Motors team of Moody/Hughes have to be careful to watch all the teams to ensure they finish with as many points as possible. While driver Brian Moody does not want to risk not finishing or failing to collect any points, non-championship contenders may complicate the team's strategy for the event. Adding to the motivation for the Champagne Motors team to drive hard is Moody's previous challenges with the event (mechanical failures have plagued the driver the last two years) and the fact that the team would love to finish the car's career with an overall victory.
For the Two Wheel Drive category the teams of Bolin/Caughman and Conley/Franks will be pre-event favorites although Team FDS may yet conquer their engine problems and if they are able to return the car to competitive trim they stand to factor heavily in the Two Wheel Drive class. The Two Wheel Drive class battle doesn't end with these three teams though. Open Competition and occasional rally driver Jimmy Keeney may return in his BMW 325 rally car and Scott Leonard has impressed everyone this year in his lower horsepower Volkswagen Golf GTI and even produced a second in class ahead of more powerful competitors. The team of Nathan Conley and Brandye Monks has to also be considered a contender despite giving up sizeable amounts of power. The duo of Conley/Monks has been consistent performers and the style of the road may well suite the motorcycle racing background of Conley well.
There will also be two new racecars making their debut at Lands End. The new car in the Two-Wheel Drive classification will be the 40/40 Racing Team. The has proven themselves to be serious contenders in national rally competition challenging for class wins against national champions in their Group 2 Thule sponsored Jetta (Group 2 is a classification for low displacement highly modified two-wheel drive cars in stage rally competition). For the Lands End event the 40/40 Team is planning to debut a new variant on the team beloved Jetta. The 40/40 Team has been diligently working on the Jetta with assistance from Champagne Motors to install and entirely brand new power plant in the Jetta and is targeting over 300 horsepower to the wheels making them one of the most powerful cars in the class. If driver Brooks Freehill can quickly come to terms with the new power plant and avoid any mechanical failures the 40/40 Team could very well win the class.
In the All Wheel Drive Class Jason Waples plans to debut his brand new Subaru Imprezza racecar. After over a year building the new car the Dynamic Performance and Racing Subaru is long awaited. Built from an ultra lightweight two-door body this turbocharged all wheel drive entry will only further complicate the podium outlook in the All Wheel Drive class. Waples had shown impressive skill and speed in his former less powerful car and impressed during mechanics races at previous hill climbs beating drivers that had competed all weekend in just one run. If the Dynamic Performance and Racing Subaru can avoid mechanical problems the team should prove to be a serious contender in a highly competitive field.
Information about the Ray Thompson's Memorial Land's End Hill Climb and Colorado Hill Climb series can be found at http://chcaracing.com or by e-mailing Kevin.Hahn@colorado.edu or Grant.Hughes@state.co.us .
In Colorado Hill Climb events the Rally Car class is broken down into two classifications based on drive train configuration; all wheel drive and two-wheel drive. These classifications differ from traditional rally classifications which differentiate the cars using a combination of drive train configuration, variance from stock trim, and engine size to class vehicles. All rally cars which meet current safety standards for stage rally competition are welcome although an additional safety inspection will be required. A majority of the vehicles in the Rally Car class can also be seen in competition at the Colorado Cog Rally (www.coloradocogrally.com) in mid September as they compete with various National and former World Champions.
Colorado Hill Climb events also host a variety of classes including, Championship, Competition Truck, Open Competition, Pro Quad, Sportsman, Stock, Super Sprint, Super Stock Truck, and a Junior division. Lands End has also in previous years drawn teams for one off events like Open Competition drivers and former Pikes Peak Champions Paul Dallenbach and David Donner, as well as Big Rig racer Mike Ryan.