The 77th annual "Race to the Clouds" takes place on the Pikes Peak Highway near Colorado Springs.
Glenn Brown, president of CFI in Joplin, MO, is racing a Kenworth 1999 T2000 (pictured). The rig is significantly lighter than his 1998 Hill Climb competition vehicle. Previous "Red Racer" versions are used for recruiting.
"Over the past few years, CFI purchased a Kenworth truck and then modified it to race up the mountain," says Jim Leisner, Kenworth's engineering project manager for the Pikes Peak effort. "This year, we decided to make it a factory effort, so Kenworth engineering provided a custom-designed race truck for CFI to race." Powered by a Cummins Signature 600 engine tuned for maximum horsepower at high altitudes, the T2000 is designed around a steel tube frame specifically engineered for the conditions at Pikes Peak.
"We think it'll be a good improvement," Brown says. "I think we can get a minute to a minute and a half off our time."
Brown's sole competitor in the semi division is Mike Ryan of Hollywood, CA, driving a new 8,800-pound Freightliner 1999 Century Class.
"Everything is brand new," says Ryan, a Hollywood stunt driver. "The engine, the braking system, the axles. We didn't get to test anything, but it's going pretty good," he said during practice sessions yesterday.
Drivers in practice runs said the course is fast and are predicting records will be broken this year.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is held each year on July 4 in cooperation with the City of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service. The 12.42-mile course is a groomed gravel highway leading to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak. It's the main fundraising event for the Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb Museum.
For the first time, you'll be able to follow the race as it happens on the Internet at http://www.ppihc.com. The webcast will begin at 10 a.m. on July 4 and feature still shots of the race updated every three minutes, results from each division, as well as audio streams of the call of the race by The Jock AM-1240 KRDO, which will be broadcasting live from the Peak.