2011 Mt. Washington Climb to the Clouds boasts impressive field of drivers and vehicles

After a 10-year hiatus, the Mt. Washington Climb to the Clouds is set to make a return in 2011. If you're a fan of hill-climb events, make sure to mark your calendar for June 22nd through the 26th because that's when a field of 75 competitors will make their runs up the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road.

In 2010, Travis Pastrana brought attention to the Auto Road courtesy of his blazing ascent of the twisting trail. That run was 20 seconds faster than the official record held by Frank Sprongl. Pastrana's run, however, was not an official record attempt... but it's a different story for the folks making the trip in June.

The field includes current record-holder Frank Sprongl, a host of Pikes Peak veterans and Mike Ryan, driving one very fast Gulf-livered Freightliner truck (see above). Besides that super-fast semi, a wide variety of machines will be on hand thanks to the range of racing classes that the Climb to the Clouds is offering. Modern Mitsubishi Evolitions and Subaru Imprezas will be sharing paddock space with vintage racers from the 1930s through the 1950s.

New Hampshire's Mt. Washington is set to play host to an exciting series of runs laid down by a skilled set of drivers. One name, however, is notably absent from the list of entries. Mr. Pastrana is apparently too busy with NASCAR. That's a shame, because we really wanted to see Sprongl and Pastrana duke it out for bragging rights on the Auto Road. Check out the official press release after the break.

[Source: Vermont Sports Car]
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2011 Mt. Washington Hillclimb Competitor Entry List Revealed

(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 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.

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