Fast Trucks: Peak Performance
"New" Pikes Peak a Different Challenge for Protruck Racers
Christine Reinertson cinched the racing harness holding her in the passenger seat one last time. She was surrounded by a full rollcage, reverberating with the exhaust note of a race-bred 450-horsepower small-block. Moments later, her entire focus was on a green, 10-inch-wide GPS screen on the dash directly in front of her.
As each twist of the road came up on the display and rapidly scrolled toward the red diamond indicating her position, she continuously called out its distance ahead, whether it was a left- or right-hander, and the sharpness of the turn.
Before her dad, Rob, a competitor in the Baja Protruck class, had finished apexing the corner, the 17-year-old high-school student was already relaying critical information so he could set up for the next one. That was the routine for 15 minutes, 16.276 seconds, and 156 turns.
It was the experience of a lifetime for both Reinertsons. "Awesome!" exclaimed the co-driver moments after she pulled her helmet off, still seated in the cab of the 2006 F-150 flying the number 234.
"My dad asked if I'd like to ride in this race with him, and I couldn't believe it. I've never been in a race truck before. This is just so, so awesome."
Although the San Francisco-based commercial contractor didn't win his class (the father/daughter team finished ninth), Rob Reinertson says competing in the 2007 PPIHC ranks as "one of the highlights of my life."
That seems to be the norm for Pikes Peak, especially now that the once all-gravel course is currently about 60 percent paved. The twisting, climbing 12.4 miles of 30-foot-wide gravel road now contains big sections where the smooth asphalt has shoulders only 20 feet wide in some of the most dangerous locations. It's the new Pikes Peak.
The Race to the Clouds all-time record was broken when Nobuhiro Tajima, driving a one-off 2007 Suzuki XL7, finally beat Rod Millen's long-standing 10 minute, four-second record by a mere three seconds with a 10:01.408-that's an average speed of nearly 75 mph.
Meanwhile, four of the 10 Baja Protrucks broke the class record established last year-the first time the trucks ran PPIHC-with class winner Mark Childress pushing his 2003 F-150 Protruck across the 14,110-foot-high finish line in 13:50.465.
Jason Voss, piloting another F-150, broke the timing lights in 14:01.283, followed closely by Bi-Polar Racing's Dave Creagan who stopped the clocks in 14:07.886 driving a 2006 Chevy Silverado.
In the High Performance Showroom Stock division, it was all VW. Volkswagen entered three TDI Touaregs: two V-10s and a V-6. Ryan Arciero, driving the #1 V-10 Touareg, put on a strong performance on his way to winning the division with a time of 13:17.703, setting a new division record for the fastest time with a diesel-powered vehicle. Mike Miller, in the #2 car, finished closely behind with a time of 13:25.247, while Chris Blais took third with a time of 15:48.312.
Exhibition Class driver Mike Ryan showed the spectators how you power a single-axle 2005 Freightliner up the hill like a madman dicing through L.A. traffic. While the 450-horse Protrucks were doing their best to break the 14-minute barrier, Ryan deftly slung his big semi to the top in 13:18.565-only a second behind Arciero's AWD V-10 Touareg.
A look at Pikes Peak racing isn't complete without a nod to Open Class winner Leonard Vahsholtz, who awed onlookers with his smoothness and speed behind the wheel of his tube-chassis 2005 Ford Explorer. His time: 11:30.536.
Next year The Hill will be about 75 percent paved. Expect the times to get even faster.
|RESULTS: Protruck Division|
|Driver Name||Mike Childress||Jason Voss||Dave Creagan||Gustavo Vildosola Jr.||Dave Mason|
|Vehicle||2003 Ford F-150||2005 Ford Protruck||2005 Chevy Silverado||2005 Toyota Tundra||2007 Ford Protruck|
|Halfway Picnic Ground||02:13.7||02:19.0||02:21.6||02:25.1||02:28.0|
|RESULTS: Protruck Division|
|Driver Name||Joe Bednar||Austin Cameron||Jim Wasson||Rob Reinertson||Cody Swanty|
|Vehicle||2005 Chevy Protruck||2005 Toyota Tundra||2005 Chevy Silverado||2006 Ford F-150||2005 Dodge Ram 1500|
|Halfway Picnic Ground||02:21.7||02:25.6||02:31.4||02:29.8||02:34.3|