Rally America Adds Mt. Washington Hill Climb as 2014 Round

Photo Credit: Alex Haugen

The mythical “To Be Determined” 8th round of the Rally America National Championship has now been confirmed.  The below press release from Rally America announces that the Mt. Washington Hillclimb will be counted as an official round of the 2014 Rally America schedule.  The iconic Mt. Washington “Climb to the Clouds” is located in Pinkham Notch, NH and slated to run June 26-29th.  Although not run as regularly as the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, the Mt. Washington event is technically the oldest racing event in American history having its first organized run in 1904.  The current record set in 2011 is held by David Higgins with a time of 6 minutes 11.54 seconds up the 7.6 mile course to the 6,288 ft. summit.  Many rally fans will appreciate that unlike Pikes Peak, Mt. Washington does have 1 mile left of gravel!

 

David Higgins’ 2011 record run video:

 

The organizers are creatively breaking the hill climb up into a combination of half-course and full course runs over multiple days to simulate a traditional stage rally.  This kind of reminds me what many rally video games do so that the programmers don’t have to create as many new stages.  Thankfully the real world is much more interesting than virtual one as conditions can change dramatically from day to day or even between morning and afternoon.  This is the first time a hill climb has been part of the national championship and it should present some unique challenges for the teams that choose to run it especially with it being mostly tarmac.  I’ll be watching to see if David Higgins can beat his record run from 2011, however this time with a rally co-driver calling notes instead of him trying to remember all 150+ turns.

RallyAmerica-logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

ORGANIZERS OF THE 2014 SUBARU MT. WASHINGTON HILLCLIMB WELCOME THE RALLY AMERICA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

 

UP TO 20 OF RALLY AMERICA’S TOP TEAMS WILL COMPETE AT NORTH AMERICA’S OLDEST HILLCLIMB

 

Pinkham, Notch, NH – Sports Car Club of New Hampshire officials, working closely with representatives from Rally America, Inc., announced today that the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb taking place at the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Pinkham Notch, Gorham, NH June 26-29, 2014 will also serve as a full-points round of the 2014 Rally America National Championship.

 

“We’re excited to welcome Rally America and its national championship teams to the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb”, stated Sports Car Club of New Hampshire President, Terry Murphy IV.  “This hillclimb has a tremendous history that includes rally teams since the hillclimb returned in 1990.  Having up to twenty of Rally America’s top national teams competing for national championship points here next June will not only provide for some great competition in the Rally America National Championship, but provide a great opportunity for spectators to watch these extremely talented teams test their skills at what is referred to by many as the most technical automotive hillclimb in the world.”

 

Although the Rally America teams will be competing for traditional hillclimb awards at Mt. Washington, the recorded times the rally teams post in the two half-course timed sessions on Friday and again on Saturday, as well as the two full-course timed runs they post on Sunday, will be combined to provide them with a total of six “competition stages”- just like a regular Rally America National Championship event where the lowest combined times after completing a series of competition stages determines the class winners.  Rally America officials will use the times their teams post on Friday, Saturday & Sunday to determine placement in the four Rally America National Championship classes which include Open, Super Production, 2-Wheel Drive and B-Spec.

 

“The 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will infuse more excitement into the Rally America National Championship,” added Bill Fogg, Sr., Rally America President. “It’s a varied format from our traditional rally, a new event, a new challenge for our top national teams who want to add this one-of-a-kind accolade to their rally racing resumes. I attended this hillclimb in 2011 and saw firsthand how wildly competitive it can be. I am very excited to have Rally America as a part of Mt. Washington’s amazing history and to include our drivers in this storied competition.”

 

The 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will consist of seventy five teams competing for bragging rights in a total of eight separate classes June 26-29, 2013 – the top class being the Open Class where high horsepower and creativity will play a key factor.  The field of eight classes will also include two rally classes for the Rally America invitational teams – one class for 2-wheel drive cars and one class for all-wheel drive cars – four distinct hillclimb classes (H1, H2, H3 & H4) which will be filled with a variety of highly skilled drivers and specialized race cars, primarily from the New England Hillclimb Association.  In addition, a group of up to ten invited drivers competing in rare vintage race cars, many with a history of competing at Mt. Washington and other well-known venues from around the world will round out the seventy five car field.

 

In 1904, the first year of the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, F.E. Stanley from Newton, Massachusetts, co-creator of the famous Stanley Steamer, drove his 6-horsepower, 800-pound steam-powered car to the summit of Mt. Washington only to be beaten by Harry Harkness from New York.  Driving a 40-horsepower Mercedes that weighed 2,200 pounds, Harkness posted a winning time of 24 minutes, 37 and 3/5 seconds in 1904.

 

Since that first year of competition, many well-known drivers have competed and won the Climb to the Clouds such as “Cannonball” Baker in 1928 & 1932 and the legendary Carroll Shelby in 1956. Driving a Franklin in 1928, Baker raced to a time of 14:49.6 seconds. Carroll Shelby, driving a specially prepared Ferrari 375 Grand Prix roadster in 1956, posted a record-setting run of 10:21.8 on his way to victory.  In 1961 Connecticut racer Bill Rutan drove his Carrera-powered Volkswagen to another new record time of 9:13.0 that would stand for 29 years – until the return of the race in 1990 when Tim O’Neil, a Rally driver from Franconia, NH drove his 300+ horsepower all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Rally Golf to the summit in a time of just 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

 

Following the return of the Mt. Washington Hillclimb in 1990 after a 29-year hiatus, the event was run annually as part of the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s summer event schedule until 2001.  During that time, several new records were shared between 7-time Sports Car Club of America National Rally Champion Paul Choiniere from Shelburne, VT and multi-time Canadian Rally Champion Frank Sprongl from Mississauga, Ontario.  Sprongl set a record time of 6:41.99 in 1998 driving his 500 horsepower Audi Quattro S2 that would stand for 13 years until 2011.

 

In 2011, Subaru Rally Team USA driver and multi-time Rally America Overall Champion David Higgins from the Isle of Man came to Mt. Washington for the very first time.  Driving a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2011 Subaru WRX STI all-wheel-drive rally car in the Open class without the aid of a co-driver, Higgins set a new overall course record of 6:11.54 – smashing the previous Mt. Washington Hillclimb record time set by Sprongl by more than 30 seconds!

 

“Sometimes the biggest battle is against the other drivers”, stated 5-time Rally America Overall Champion and current Mt. Washington Hillclimb Record Holder David Higgins recently, “but racing up the Mt Washington Auto Road is very different. The road itself is the biggest battle and one I can’t wait to fight again. The Mt. Washington Auto Road has it all; Tarmac, gravel, fog, crazy weather and not to mention the scenic drops! It is an immense challenge that is also steeped in history.”

 

Organized and sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will take place at the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Pinkham Notch, Gorham, NH on June 26-29, 2014.  The window for accepting entry applications from potential competitors will open at 12:01am on December 1, 2013 and close at midnight on December 31, 2013.  Further information regarding the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb is available at www.climbtotheclouds.com.

Photo Credit: Alex Haugen

Photo Credit: Alex Haugen

 

Photo Credit: Alex Haugen

Photo Credit: Alex Haugen

 

Photo Credit: Aaron Kathman

Photo Credit: Aaron Kathman

ABOUT THE SPORTS CAR CLUB OF NEW HAMPSHIRE:
Established in 1955 by a group of longtime sports car enthusiasts from New Hampshire, the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH) is a non-profit 501c3 organization open to any individual who is interested in automobiles or automobile-related activities – whether they are a New Hampshire resident or not. Driver and motor vehicle safety as well as the improvement of driving skills are the primary focus at all SCCNH events.  For more information regarding the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, upcoming events or membership, be sure to visit www.sccnh.org

 

ABOUT SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC.:
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 600 dealers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit www.subaru.com.

 

“Subaru”, “WRX STI”, all model names, and the Subaru logo are registered trademarks of the Subaru subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd, Japan. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.

 

ABOUT THE MT. WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD

The Washington Auto Road is considered by many hillclimb racers to be extremely technical with a narrow road surface that averages just over 20 feet wide.  In addition to being very narrow with steep drop-offs that vary from side to side, the road is also incredibly steep, with an average 12% grade and gaining slightly more than 4,600 feet in total elevation change from the starting line to the finish line.  The surface of the 7.6 mile Mt. Washington Auto Road is mostly tarmac with approximately one mile of gravel and contains well over 150 turns and switchbacks as the road winds its’ way to the 6, 288 foot summit of the Northeast’s tallest peak.

 

First opened in 1861 as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is the country’s oldest manmade attraction. Located on Rt. 16 in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, just north of the Mt. Washington Valley and minutes south of Gorham, the Auto Road has a long and winding history, much like its 7.6 mile trip up to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast. For more information, visit www.MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com or call 603-466-3988.

 

ABOUT RALLY AMERICA, INC.:

Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of eight national-level events in 2014 located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 mph driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STI’s, Ford Fiestas, Honda Fits and Scion xD’s on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com.