Big things with little cars

LaLD Car Week: King of the Mountain

The Pikes Peak Hillclimb is one of the most intense races out there. Like Isle of Man TT but up a mountain. It’s one of the only races where you can go balls to the wall and run something truly unlimited. Carving out more than 150 turns over nearly 12.5 miles and gaining 4,720 feet in elevation to end at 14,115 ft, Pikes Peak is the greatest hillclimb out there. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the second oldest race still happening in America, second only to the Indy 500 (1916 vs 1911).

(kinja’s been terrible, so this is being published now... it’s officially LaLD Car Week somewhere...)

Loeb’s weapon on the left and Dumas’ on the right.
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Some have criticized the race for being fully paved since 2012, losing some of its rawness, but you can’t say the race has become less intense. Cars can now hit times previously thought unthinkable. 2011 (right before the final section was paved) was the first time the 10 minute barrier was cracked. Of course 2 years later, some rally guy with a piddly 20 years of experience in WRC decided to come and challenge the course record. Sebastien Loeb would blow the record away by close to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Setting a plainly ridiculous time of 8:13. No one had gotten close to the sub-9 minute mark ever, let alone hit close to 8 minutes.

Enter another little known guy with not much racing experience besides nearly 20 years in endurance racing and 5 years in WRC. Romain Dumas is now the official King of the Mountain, having won the race overall 4 times, but of course holding a record that will be very difficult to beat. Loeb managed to get into the low 8's. Dumas took it to the next level and is the only one to have beaten 8 minutes. In 2018 he teamed up with Volkswagen Racing to run their technological tour de force. The I.D. R.

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Electric cars have become the new way to crush track records especially with ones with extra twisties. That instant torque coupled with no power loss is an excellent plan for Pikes Peak. Just to put it in perspective, a naturally aspirated gas engine will lose 30 percent of its power from the start line to the finish due to the elevation gain and loss of oxygen that allow for those sweet sweet explosions. Electric? Always good as long as you have some electrons moving.

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After getting a 7:57 record at PPIHC, the I.D. R has also beaten the Goodwood Hillclimb record (I don’t care if it isn’t ‘official’, it should count the same as qualifying track records count in F1), and the electric record at the Nurburging (the 919 Evo is a beast...). It will be exciting to see what other records VW will attempt.

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Now let’s talk about this model. This beauty is brand spankin new from Spark in 1/18 scale. They do make a 1/43 as well, but I needed the 1/18 to match my Loeb car in the display in the first picture. Spark is excellent, and this sealed resin is superb. I’m a bit scared to hold it in some ways so I don’t break something, but the details are epic. Just check the pics.

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So pleased with this model. Here’s a couple extra shots where the light painting was visible.

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Cheers and hooray for LaLD Car Week!

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