Texas Dave - Co-founder, Rally Ready Driving School
This was my tenth consecutive entry at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. To that point, this summer was a time of reflection as I got to look at where we'd been in the past ten years.
An Acura Integra Type-R was my first car back in 2005. We finished third in that car twice before moving to an Evo 6.5. That car brought us a 2nd place finish in 2007 and a win in 2008. For 2009 we moved to the Evo 8 that we still have today. It brought us our second and third consecutive victory in the Open Division in 2009 and 2010. For 2011, we made heavy modifications to the car and moved to the Unlimited Division. Since then, we have had a rough go of it. 2011 brought us our first DNF as we ran out of budget before we could get the car finished. We made it 4 miles before the engine gave up. In 2012, we raced our rental car, a 2005 Subaru, but lost an engine in testing. We sat 2012 out to support our friends. 2013 saw the rebirth of the Unlimited car and finally a run to the top with a time of 10:27. Unfortunately, we had mechanical trouble towards the top and lost a lot of time.
This year, things looked even better. Our Hoosier tires were far and away the best we'd ever had on the car. The car was incredibly quick in practice despite being down on horsepower. Our times in practice were competitive against some of the fastest cars in the field. After a re-prep and nut and bolt check of the car, we prepared to load it up the night before the race. As we pulled it onto the trailer, two gallons of coolant poured out of the exhaust and we found ourselves with a cracked cylinder head. A replacement was sourced from Craigslist and after an all night push, the team had the car back together. Race day had a different plan for us, though.
I left the start line and immediately knew something wasn't happy. The first mile or two was the most time I ever spent flat out on the Peak.. but for all the wrong reasons. It wasn't but three miles in and we had a mechanical failure. I suppose our shot at a 9 minute run will have to wait until year eleven.
Brianne- Co-conspirator, Rally Ready Driving School
2009 was the first year Brianne tackled Pikes Peak. Her first adventure was on two wheels. After two years of that, she moved up to 4 wheels in a Subaru Impreza. Her 2011 maiden two-wheel voyage brought home a win in Time Attack 4WD. In 2012 she returned with the same car much more thoroughly prepared for Time Attack domination. Weather wasn't on her side that year and she was forced to run in the worst conditions of the day giving her an unfavorable time compared to the rest of the field. Nonetheless, she made it to the top and brought the car home in one piece. For 2013, she took the year off to help Dave make his Unlimited run.
2014 was Brianne's fifth run up the Peak. The car was better, faster and stronger than ever. Her practice times were quick but the car was losing compression all week. Race day for her was, however, a success. The engine held on for the whole run up the mountain and she managed an 11:35. Plans for next year are already more than in motion. A new sequential gearbox goes into the car next month and testing starts this winter.
Yuri Kouznetsov- 2012 Rally Ready Alumni, Current Rally Ready Instructor
When Yuri showed up to RRDS in 2012, it was clear quickly that he was a natural talent. His driving skills were astonishing and his sense of humor even better. His first trip up Pikes Peak was in 2012 in the co-driver seat of a car that was made world famous when it tumbled down the hill 12 times. Yuri and the driver both walked away. He returned to spectate in 2013 before putting his sights on the drivers seat to tackle the 156 corners that nearly took his life two years previous.
Yuri built a strong and quick car and put in a great drive all week. With the exception of a couple small issues, they put on the strongest effort. When Yuri left the start line, the emotion for everyone was tangible. He faced down his demon with the best time of all of us at 11:03.
2014 was a difficult year on Pikes Peak. Even for those who finished on race day, times were significantly slower than anticipated. The mountain, like a rally stage, is a living breathing dynamic entity. Everything can change in an instant. The conditions can be sunny and hot for a mile, raining for 4 miles, dry for a mile and then snow and sleet to the finish. It is not to be taken for granted and it is to be respected. What we have learned here over the past ten years has shaped much of what we teach, how we teach and will continue to shape our perspective going forward.
To share some of what we've learned, sign up for a class today at www.rallyready.com.