(first posted 7/16/2013) The 2013 Race to the Clouds is over, and not surprisingly new records were set, albeit on a completely paved course. Pretty hard to work up any excitement for such an accomplishment. Back in the day, as it is said, a stock car win by a front-wheel drive Olds was news. Without all-wheel drive and mucho technology today, you don’t stand a chance. So what. Who says that front wheel drivers don’t make good racers? Nick Sanborn, Jr. was the fastest stocker at Pikes Peak in 1966 driving a new Olds Toronado. His time was 14:36, not a particularly fast time when compared to Parnelli Jones, the first stocker to run up the hill in under 14 minutes (13:52.2) two years before in a 1964 Mercury Marauder prepared by the legendary Bill Stroppe.
The race Toronado ran an automatic, as did street Toronados. A disadvantage? Apparently not. When I attended the Hillclimb in 1977, numerous stockers were running autos, some still with parking stickers on their bumpers from regional colleges. At that time all stockers, including the winning Toronado, ran live or beam rear axles. Lots of wheel hop under braking. I was a witness.
Even at the finish line, which was pretty much a straight line run, the Olds exhibits lean to the right. When the run to the clouds was was still gravel, all cars were set up soft so as to transfer as much weight to the outside tires to maximize traction, very much like USAC championship cars that ran the dirt tracks at state fairs at that time. High center of gravity, lots of weight transfer, that was the goal.
To not refer to Ak Miller as a legend at the hill would be to overlook numerous class wins in cars that he built himself. Here he takes the checkers and win in class with a time of 13:53.6 driving a Devin-bodied 427 Ford.
The name of Unser is synonymous Pikes Peak with Al, Bobby, or one of the numerous other family members. Here Bobby takes the 1966 Sprint Car win in the Open Wheel division running a Chevy at a time of 12:23.8.
Ted Trevor, running a Volksvair Manx, took the top time of 15:43.5 in the under 2000 cc Sports Car category.
All photos were provided Mobil, (ie, my dad) the title sponsor of the event.