So what's it like to race a car up one of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains? "There are a lot of places on the hill where you can leave the road and it's no different than when we're on a normal stage rally. "But then there are a...
So what's it like to race a car up one of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains?
"There are a lot of places on the hill where you can leave the road and it's no different than when we're on a normal stage rally.
"But then there are a handful of places where, if you leave the roads ... well, one of them is called the "Bottomless Pit." If you went off there, your clothes would be out of style before you hit Colorado Springs. I think you'd fall all the way down!"
-- Doug Shepherd, SCCA ProRally legend and driver of the No. 52 Mopar Dodge SRT-4, pictured above at Pikes Peak in 2003.
Team Mopar rally crews climbing to the top at Pikes Peak
The SCCA ProRally competitors from Team Mopar are currently strapped in for success at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Three Mopar teams are battling in Colorado at the second oldest motorsports event in the country, which has been internationally renowned since 1916.
After Special Stage 1 earlier today, Doug Shepherd and co-driver Pete Gladysz stand third overall. The duo completed the winding, uphill 4.9-mile stage in 5:18.6, just 4.1 seconds behind the leader, who is driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Shepherd and Gladysz pilot a two-wheel-drive Dodge SRT-4 that has recently been fitted with the Mopar Performance Stage 3 Turbo Upgrade Kit, which boosts horsepower numbers over 350 and torque figures to above 360 ft.-lbs. in "high-octane" mode.
Guest driver and eight-time SCCA ProRally Overall champion Paul Choiniere along with co-driver Cindy Krolikowski are still very much in the overall running at this early stage of the event. The tandem drove a Mopar-backed Dodge SRT-4 onto the podium at the most recent ProRally event, the Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally, and are always a threat to the leaders.
Chris Whiteman and Mike Paulin are back in action at Pikes Peak after taking a short hiatus from competition. The Group 2 (naturally aspirated, 2WD) champions from 2003 stormed to a class victory at the season-opening Sno*Drift event in January. Since that time, they have converted their car into a Group 5 SRT-4 by adding the turbocharged A855 engine and other relevant components. The young team tells Mopar Speed that they're looking forward to seeing how they can stack up directly (in the same class) against the SCCA ProRally veterans in the other two Team Mopar Dodge SRT-4s.
Unique to this year's Pikes Peak competition is Special Stage 2, which will kick off tomorrow morning at 3 a.m. and mark the first time that ProRally competitors will be required to attack the mountain at night.
"We do a lot of rally stages at night, so that part of it is going to be something we're familiar with," Shepherd said. "But the fact that you're doing it on a paved road and a pretty fast one at that ... it's going to be a challenge, no question. The other thing is: who knows how cold it is at nine thousand feet at four in the morning? And who knows what kind of weather's coming overnight and what junk may wash down the mountain onto the paved road?"
On Friday morning, competitors will also take on Special Stage 3 beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday marks the big day in the SCCA ProRally portion of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, as teams will twice ascend the full 12-plus mile course, which concludes at the majestic summit stationed more than 14,000 feet above sea-level.
Check out Mopar Speed on Monday for exclusive coverage of Team Mopar at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.