Race Day

he best qualifying time for each section on the previous three days was combined to create the “Run Order” for Race Day. RJ’s combined time was 11:24.77, which placed him in the 29th position, so he should start his run at approximately 11:00 a.m., if there aren’t delays. There’s one road into Pikes Peak. The sign at the front gate says it all. The mountain is closed for business — racing business! It’s 50° at 6:00 a.m., and the mountain looks clear. Just because the race is called the “Race to the Clouds” doesn’t mean that RJ’s head is in the clouds; The 12.42 miles of pavement and 156 turns are on his mind. Once the trailer opened, fans started gathering. Even the Hot Rod 

 magazine Mustang patiently waited. Tim and RJ took the opportunity to take photos and mingle with the fans There were plenty of delays. Big Red got called to the starting line at 11:30. After 45 minutes of delays, RJ raced away from the line. The weather wasn’t great for all the competitors, but RJ was in a window of perfect weather all the way to the top. RJ pedaled Big Red to an 11:08.857. His run surprised a lot of people, who thought a rookie couldn’t drive a naturally aspirated muscle car to the top in less than 12 minutes. All the cars left the starting line by 1:00 p.m., and the parade of competitors arrived back at the starting line at 4:00 p.m. It was cool to see the racers come down all at the same time, with people lining the pits cheering for the drivers. Everyone was excited! It was a huge team effort. After all the turmoil of last year, and the effort put out for the six-month rebuilding, a celebration was definitely in order

A marmot came out of nowhere. It didn’t leave a mess behind. Just a visible smudge print on the face of the spoiler. It didn’t even move the camera. The only saving grace is that it wasn’t a full-grown sheep. Larry  Mollicone’s daughter Jacqueline took a photo of him and RJ together. She is really proud of Larry’s continued commitment to building racing engines that allow Big Red to break speed records. She isn’t alone. RJ and the team are happy to have Larry onboard With over a years’ worth of construction and preparations, 17 grueling days of practice, and racing at a high altitude, with sweat still beading down his forehead, RJ said it best after climbing out of Big Red and congratulating his team: “Well guys, what’s next?” That pretty much sums up how Big Red isn’t about resting on its past accomplishments. It’s onward to the next quest or record for the books: Mojave, Bonneville, dry lakes, maybe even an overseas hill climb