Evan Evans overcomes huge obstacles to race at Pikes Peak

Driving in the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a "hands-on" experience for Evan Evans. Among the High Performance Showroom Stock drivers in Friday’s Hill Climb practice, Evans drove his diesel-powered No. 33 2000 Chevrolet ...

Driving in the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a "hands-on" experience for Evan Evans.

Among the High Performance Showroom Stock drivers in Friday’s Hill Climb practice, Evans drove his diesel-powered No. 33 2000 Chevrolet pick-up truck to a time of 4 minutes, 53.09 seconds.

He wasn't the fastest, Samuel Fuller made a run of 4:16.39 in his No. 7 2000 Acura Integra, but Evans is not your average driver on Pikes Peak.

"It's a diesel, it's controlled with hand controls, and it's my first time at Pikes Peak Hill Climb racing, so there are a lot of learning curves," said Evans.

Though he is a rookie on Pikes Peak, Evans knows how to race and win. He has establishing a formidable record as a desert racer who has won several Baja and other desert endurance races.

All this despite the fact that he has been paralyzed from the chest down following a non-racing motorcycle accident in 1989. It didn’t stop him. Only months after his accident, he successfully competed in the Baja 1000. That same year Evans won the Class 6 points championship, the Off Roadsman Award of the Year and the SCORE High Desert Racing Association Person of the Year Award.

"I didn’t feel very quick," Evans said of his practice runs on the top section Thursday. "But, all the feedback from everybody says I was just a rocket ship."

He was fastest among the HPSS division drivers in the first day of practice (Thursday) with at run of 3:50.56.

Evans also drives for the CORR Off-Road Racing Series, where he picked up a victory last week in a race in Crandon, Wis.

Taj takes over: Nobuhiro Tajima quickened his pace today in practice on the bottom section. He was fastest in the PPO division with a run of 3:35.6 in his No. 3 Suzuki Twin Engine Esteem.

"I hope if the weather is fine, I can break the Pikes Peak Open qualifying record and race record."Tajima, of Shizuoka, Japan, won the Unlimited division title in 1995.

As for the Suzuki Esteem, Tajima says, "Very good, everything okay."

As for the lower section of the course, Tajima, like most other drivers to practice there today, felt the track was a bit slippery, due to the dry conditions and the amount of silt-like gravel on the road surface. Otherwise it was another gorgeous day of practice for the 78th Race to the Clouds.

It was a beautiful day on the Peak for nearly everyone, except for Koichi Horiuchi. Horiuchi, of Wakaba-ku, Japan, severely damaged his No. 5 1997 Mitsubishi FTO in a crash near the Crystal Work Road, about a mile from the Start Line. Horiuchi, who was fastest in PPO practice on the top section Thursday, hooked the inside drainage of a left hand turn, spun around and came to rest in a the ditch on the right side of the road facing the wrong way. The car suffered extensive damage to the left side, as well as the front end, but Horiuchi was not injured.

Swedish driver Per Eklund was second fastest in PPO practice Friday with a fast time of 3:39.1 in his No. 93 Saab 9-3 Viggen. Third fastest was Paul Choiniere, the 1997 PPO division champ. He clocked a blistering run of 3:45.13 in his No. 12 2000 Hyundai Tiburon. Choiniere, of Shelburne, Vermont, spent the day testing different tire treads in hopes of finding the right traction for the slippery day, and also to find a tread that will be complementary on qualifying and race day.

Defending champion, Frenchman Jean Pierre Richelmi overcame early problems with the fuel pump on his No. 111 Lancia Delta HF Integrale to post a 3:50.11 on his final run.

Stallworth shows his worth: Driving a 1999 Yamaha Banshee in the Exhibition Quad class, two-time Pro Quad champion and 1997 Super Quad champion John Stallworth zipped off a 3:56.33 time Friday on the lower section.

He hit a speed of 89 miles per hour going through the Halfway Picnic Grounds. And, according to the Andover, Kansas resident, that's just the beginning. After some adjustments to the gearing, Stallworth believes he can reach speeds of up to 120 mph on the same straightaway if, "my kahunas are big enough"

The Quad is a stripped down version of a Banshee, fitted with small Hoosier racing tires and turbo charger. It weighs only 375 pounds, but can generate 120 horsepower.

Trucktastic: Since making its debut at the Adelphia Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1997, the Class 8 truck division has enjoyed meteoric popularity among race fans. This year, the competition is tighter than ever, with race rookie Shane Chapman edging out 3-time defending champ Mike Ryan for the second-straight day of practice. Chapman clocked a 4:25.53, while Ryan's best run was a 4:27.53 on the lower section Friday.

Ironically, Ryan helped Chapman get a ride in the Hill Climb. Chapman is driving a monsterous, 10,500-pound No. 60 Sterling A113 truck that was built for him after Ryan suggested him as a driver to Freightliner, which owns Sterling.

"We had a lot of offers from a lot of big-name truck drivers," Ryan said. "But I recommended Shane. He's a hard-working guy who drives a car-carrier for a living."

In addition to driving the car carrier, Chapman is a four-time champion in street-course truck racing which is popular in New Zealand and Europe.

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About this article
Series Hillclimb
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Evan Evans , Nobuhiro Tajima , Mike Ryan