Chances are you've heard of Rhys Millen. The man pushes cars over dirt, into extreme sideways angles, through the air and up challenging mountain roads. If you're a bit younger, however, you may not have heard of his father, Mr. Rod Millen... and that's a problem, because you should know that name.
Rod Millen, born in New Zealand and possessor of the best driveway on the planet, is a racing legend. Typically known for his off-road records, the elder Millen has been hustling rally cars and trucks across tough terrain since the 1970s. The company he founded, MillenWorks, is responsible for the development of technical innovations used in racing, and by the military. Enjoying that cushy suspension setup in your Chevrolet Corvette or Audi R8? You can think MillenWorks for that.
Like Rhys, Rod also has a passion for competing. Before Nobuhiro Tajima came along, Rod Millen was the Pike's Peak record holder. Driving a Toyota Celica All Trac in 1994, Millen smashed the previous record by 40 seconds. He broke his own record four more times, until the Monster took him down, and Rod hasn't been back since 2001.
Father's day is around the corner, and the Millen boys are ready to spend some time together. They're going to do so in Colorado, because Rod is coming back to the mountain, and Rhys is planning to destroy it.
Rhys is busy prepping his Hyundai-powered RMR PM580 for another crack at the 10-minute mark. Rod needs a ride, and he told his son " don't give me that drift cah," but the Hyundai Genesis Coupe Formula Drift car is what Rod will be running up the hill.
Of course, to get it into shape, the Rhys Millen Racing crew has been working hard to turn the oversteer-happy Hyundai into a real road-racing machine. In order to do that, the RMR wrenches have returned the amount of available steering angle to a near-normal level, changed over the entire suspension setup and locked the massive e-brake handle in place. Rod has been spending time getting used to the car, and he's helping the team dial in the car to his liking. When blasting up Pike's Peak, Millen prefers a bit of understeer, and the car certainly isn't setup that way for Formula Drift events.
During testing, Millen and RMR got the car actually dialed in with too much understeer. The car didn't want to turn, and Rod went off the track at a hair under 140 miles per hour. Thankfully, he was unhurt, and the front bumper was the only injured party as it separated itself from the Genesis Coupe.
Rhys, Rod and the entire RMR crew are working hard to prep the two cars for the 2011 International Pike's Peak Hill Climb. The drift-car-turned-road-racer is going to compete in the Time Attack 2WD class, while Rhys' RMR PM580 goes record hunting in the Unlimited class. There may be another vehicle coming to Colorado, however, as Rhys and Hyundai parked the Veloster Rallycross racer off to the side of the testing area. We pressed Millen the Younger on its presence, and he merely gave us a sly smile, stating "there may be another Hyundai at Pike's Peak."
At it stands now, the focus will be getting both of the cars (and both of the Millens) ready to run up the hill. Rod will be battling his friend and class record holder Jeff Zwart, while Rhys aims to have the Millen name once again stamped next to the overall time record. It's one hell of a way to spend Father's Day together, and for the Millen family we'd expect no less.