(April 15, 2011) Officials at Vermont SportsCar revealed the invited driver list today for the return of the legendary Mt. Washington “Climb to the Clouds” Automobile Hillclimb, to be held June 22-26, 2011. The Mt. Washington Hillclimb, known as the Climb to the Clouds, was first run in 1904 and is considered to be one of America’s oldest motorsports events. The 2011 Climb to the Clouds, which makes a comeback after a ten year hiatus, will be a 5-day festival of motorsports with a 75-car competition field filled with some of the best drivers and cars from around the world competing for “King of the Hill” honors. The entry list includes three of the past five course record holders, former and current rally champions, several high-powered open-wheel cars, a vintage class filled with cars steeped in motorsports history and a first for the event; a purpose-built race-truck!
Gunning for overall victory and a new overall course record will be a trio of past record holders. They include multi-time rally champion Tim O'Neil from Whitefield, NH, seven-time SCCA ProRally Champion Paul Choiniere from Shelburne, VT; and current Climb to the Clouds official-record holder and six-time Canadian Rally Champion Frank Sprongl from Ontario, Canada. These drivers all hold records within a minute of each other and will be racing in the Open Class at the Climb to the Clouds.
Other notable drivers going for the overall record include Jimmy Keeney of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Todd Cook from Tempe, Arizona – both of whom will be driving purpose built open-wheel hillclimb cars with upwards of 900 horsepower, but only two-wheel drive. Keeney was the 2nd fastest qualifier at the 2010 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb and Cook is a multi-time class winner at Pikes Peak. Two other open-wheeled cars are the 1968 McKee MK8, a Formula 5000-based car raced by Robert D'Amore from Arlington, MA, and “The Patriot”, a bespoke hillclimb car built and raced by Jerry Driscoll. Driscoll, who makes his home in East Randolph, Vermont, set the current Speed Record of 113mph on the Mt. Washington Auto Rd. course in 1998 driving the very same car he’ll be racing this June.
The Vintage Class features a lineup of prestigious racing cars from the 1930's and 1950's. Although all the entered vehicles are steeped in motorsports history none maybe as much so as an extremely rare 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 that won Le Mans with legendary Grand Prix driver Tazio Nuvolari at the wheel. The 8C was shipped across the Atlantic, and in 1937 it raced and won the Mt. Washington Hillclimb – it returns this June, restored as it was raced, to compete 74 years later. Also competing will be a 1934 Reuter Special known as "The Old Grey Mare," a 1953 lightweight special known as "The Cheetah" and a 1951 Jaguar XK120 known as "The Beast." The Vintage Class roster will also feature a 1931 Studebaker factory Indy car – one of only three that were built – that won the pole at Indianapolis in 1931, as well as raced and won Pikes Peak the same year. All of these historic cars have raced at Mt. Washington before and will return this June!
The Mt. Washington Auto Road will see a truck race up its narrow serpentine course for the first time in its history as daredevil Mike Ryan of Santa Clara, California takes his purpose-built Freightliner 14.7 liter turbo-diesel-powered race-truck up Mt. Washington in the Hillclimb Special Class. Ryan, a Hollywood stunt-driver by trade, holds the current record at Pikes Peak in the Super Truck Class and will forgo the Colorado event this year in favor of the unfamiliar Mt. Washington Hillclimb.
The two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive Rally classes will be headlined by defending Rally America, North American and Canadian Rally Champion Antoine L'Estage in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and Former Subaru factory rally driver Ramana Lagemann from Somerville, Massachusetts in a 2010 Subaru WRX STI. The all-wheel drive class will be a showdown between the makes as five Subaru and five Mitsubishi rally cars are entered.
Four additional classes host race cars which normally compete in the New England and Pennsylvania Hillclimb Championships that include cars from the 1970's: BMW 2002, Datsun 510, Opel Ascona, Chevrolet Camaro, and even a Triumph Spitfire; the 1980's: VW GTI, Mazda RX-7, Peugeot 505, Saab 900, and Porsches; the 1990's Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Dodge Neon, BMW M3, and the thrilling 240RS Maxi, and the 2000's including modern Volkswagen, Subaru WRX STI, and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution entries.
The Climb to the Clouds will also host a vintage car show during the event weekend displaying cars and machinery with impressive ties to Mt. Washington. Highlights include the 1904 Orient Buckboard that raced in the first-ever Mt. Washington Hillclimb in July of 1904, a 1907 Bailey Electric from Amesbury, MA identical to that of a Bailey Electric that completed a 1,000 mile loop from New York City with Mt. Washington on its route, and the 1961 Volkswagen with Porsche Carrera power that Bill Rutan from Moodus, CT drove to the overall record in 1961 – 50 years ago this June.
About the Mt. Washington “Climb to the Clouds” Hillclimb:
First opened in 1861 as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road, the Mt. Washington Auto Road, located in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire is the country’s oldest man-made attraction. The 7.6 mile Mt. Washington Auto Road is one of the ultimate challenges for driver and automobile. The serpentine tarmac and gravel road is lined with trees and dramatic drop-offs as it winds its way to the 6,288 foot summit of the Northeast’s tallest peak. Considered to be one of the oldest motorsports events in the United States, the Climb to the Clouds was first run in 1904, seven years before the first 500-mile race at the Brickyard in Indianapolis and twelve years prior to the inaugural Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado. The last time the Climb to the Clouds was run was in 2001.
Organized by Vermont SportsCar and sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, the 2011 Mt. Washington Hillclimb will serve as one of several sporting events held at the Mt. Washington Auto Road in 2011 to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mt. Washington Auto Road as the nation’s oldest man-made attraction.
Grandstand seating will be available for spectators at the start area while several on-course spectating areas will be available. Tickets will be available for sale this spring at http://www.climbtotheclouds.com/.
Evening entertainment will include musical performances Friday and Saturday including Boston-based TAB The Band who recently toured the US and UK with the Stone Temple Pilots. TAB The Band's lead guitarist, Tony Perry from Duxbury, Massachusetts, will also be competing in the Climb to the Clouds in a Mitsubishi Evolution X.
About Vermont SportsCar
Vermont SportsCar is best known for preparing the rally cars for, and the management of, Subaru Rally Team USA – the factory-supported rally team for Subaru of America. The Team, based in Colchester, Vermont, has won over 30 rallies since 2006 as well as helped team driver and action sports icon Travis Pastrana earn the Rally America National Championship four years in a row (2006-2009). Vermont SportsCar is the creation and vision of veteran rally car builder and former co-driver Lance Smith. Smith, a Vermont native, competed in the Mt. Washington Hillclimb several times throughout the 1990’s and also fielded top running cars for other drivers. Vermont SportsCar stepped forward to revive and organize the 2011 Mt. Washington Hillclimb to help celebrate the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s 150th Anniversary. For more information visit: www.vtcar.com
About the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH)
The 2011 Mt. Washington Hillclimb will be sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire. Established in 1955 by a group of longtime sports car enthusiasts from throughout New Hampshire, the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH) is a non-profit organization open to anyone interested in automobiles or automobile-related activities – whether they are a New Hampshire resident or not. Today the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire is comprised of a broad spectrum of members from across New England with a variety of vehicles and varied interests in motorsports. For more information visit: www.sccnh.orgNOTE: To view the actual list of 2011 Climb to the Clouds Drivers, please click on this link: http://www.climbtotheclouds.com/competitors/entry-list/