Mini Sport are proud to say that we are supporting Jon Edwards-Parton at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this year. John is one of only two driver taking part from the UK and has written this race report for us:
After the trials and tribulations of getting to this point the Race Day dawns bright and sunny with no rain forecast. (But on the Mountain normal weather patterns rarely apply so its still fingers crossed time.)
At 8.30 it’s off up the mountain to meet up with the Crew and the Mini in the Paddock area set up by the Start Line. The pit activity certainly provides a real sense of atmosphere and a tingle down the spine hearing those race cars with open exhausts alongside the shriek of the Motor Bike engines as they are unloaded and warmed up. The Mini is parked up and all ready to go.
The team has set up camp in a delightfully shady area as the temperature is already moving up to 28 Degrees C. With cold drinks and snacks on hand here we can relax, chat with other teams and get ready for the race in relative comfort. The camp proved to be a very attractive place to many of the folk we had met both this year and last year. Nothing to do now but sit under the trees chatting to other drivers and crew, telling jokes and racing tales and trying to stay calm!
My start time gets later and later as a result of both cars and bikes crashing out on the mountain and having to be moved out of harms way. As the sun continues to shine the temperature soars and is already 30 Degrees C.
2.30pm and finally the Crew start to make a move to get me in line for the Green Flag. The Mini is being warmed up so race suit and helmet on and focus on the job in hand. Into the car, belts on, oxygen on (after last years start line panic with the oxygen all goes well this time) and good to go. Then with 2 minutes to go the red flag gremlins strike again!!! The course is closed as the Competitor before me has gone off the road.
Drivers are not allowed to leave the car once it is at the start so I sit there in the increasingly hot car (the temperature that afternoon hit 38 degrees C) in full race gear for nearly 30 minutes. The crew were giving me cold water through a straw as I had my balaclava on desperately trying and trying to keep me in the shade as much as possible. Last year the mountain threw a thunderstorm at me. While I was at the flag and on slicks and this year its trying to bake me – perhaps by next year it will be a plague of locusts!
The red flag finally comes down and I am under starters orders. The green flag is waved and I am off. My goal for this year is to do a sub 13 minutes. The Mini is flying up the Mountain – the Minisport close ratio box, the suspension mods and all the hours recceing and testing on the mountain are coming together now. The overheating of brain and body forgotten!!
For safety reasons the number of spectators on the Mountain for this years has been reduced and they have been restricted to certain areas but there still seems to be thousands at the side of road.
I push the Mini as hard as it will go through 156 bends to the 14.100ft summit pulling 6th gear on occasion (some 110 mph) but only managed 13mins 10secs. However car and driver are still in one piece (the Mountain was littered with cars either off the road or broken) I am followed by my Texan Team mate in his 500bhp Radical who only beats me by 40 seconds so maybe my time isn’t so bad and is 45 seconds faster than last year.
Lost of High Fives at the top and congratulations all round to the finishers.
However the jubilation is overshadowed this year however by news of the death of a Motor Cycle Competitor following a crash right on the Finish line earlier in the day.
I am whisked off for a Radio Interview with a local station (second one this week.) This feels a bit surreal at 14,000 feet. They are keen to understand why an English driver has traveled so far to do their local event!!
The next big event is the Victory parade down the Mountain. Applause and congratulations from the thousands of spectators lining the route. The Mini is now flying the Union Jack and attracts its usual ecstatic welcome from the fans. I think they can relate far more to the Mini and its 3 wheeling antics than some of the real exotica among the Competitors.
Back in the paddock its Champagne all round for Team and Drivers. A class win for the Radical adds an additional reason to drink the Champagne this year. Do we need an excuse??
Roll on 2015 – I clearly have to keep trying for that sub 13 minutes!!!!