"We're excited to welcome Rally America and its national championship teams to the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb", said Sports Car Club of New Hampshire President, Terry Murphy IV. "This hillclimb has a tremendous history that includes rally teams since the hillclimb returned in 1990. Having up to twenty of Rally America's top national teams competing for national championship points here next June will not only provide for some great competition in the Rally America National Championship, but provide a great opportunity for spectators to watch these extremely talented teams test their skills at what is referred to by many as the most technical automotive hillclimb in the world."
Although the Rally America teams will be competing for traditional hillclimb awards at Mt. Washington, the recorded times the rally teams post in the two half-course timed sessions on Friday and again on Saturday, as well as the two full-course timed runs they post on Sunday, will be combined to provide them with a total of six "competition stages,"
just like a regular Rally America National Championship event where the lowest combined times after completing a series of competition stages determines the class winners. Rally America officials will use the times their teams post on Friday, Saturday & Sunday to determine placement in the four Rally America National Championship classes which include Open, Super Production, 2-Wheel Drive and B-Spec.
"The 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will infuse more excitement into the Rally America National Championship," added Bill Fogg, Sr., Rally America President. "It's a varied format from our traditional rally, a new event, a new challenge for our top national teams who want to add this one-of-a-kind accolade to their rally racing resumes. I attended this hillclimb in 2011 and saw firsthand how wildly competitive it can be. I am very excited to have Rally America as a part of Mt. Washington's amazing history and to include our drivers in this storied competition."
The 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will consist of seventy five teams competing for bragging rights in a total of eight separate classes June 26-29, 2013 - the top class being the Open Class where high horsepower and creativity will play a key factor. The field of eight classes will also include two rally classes for the Rally America invitational teams - one class for 2-wheel drive cars and one class for all-wheel drive cars - four distinct hillclimb classes (H1, H2, H3 & H4) which will be filled with a variety of highly skilled drivers and specialized race cars, primarily from the New England Hillclimb Association. In addition, a group of up to ten invited drivers competing in rare vintage race cars, many with a history of competing at Mt. Washington and other well-known venues from around the world will round out the seventy five car field.
In 1904, the first year of the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, F.E. Stanley from Newton, Massachusetts, co-creator of the famous Stanley Steamer, drove his 6-horsepower, 800-pound steam-powered car to the summit of Mt. Washington only to be beaten by Harry Harkness from New York. Driving a 40-horsepower Mercedes that weighed 2,200 pounds, Harkness posted a winning time of 24 minutes, 37 and 3/5 seconds in 1904.
Since that first year of competition, many well-known drivers have competed and won the Climb to the Clouds such as "Cannonball" Baker in 1928 & 1932 and the legendary Carroll Shelby in 1956. Driving a Franklin in 1928, Baker raced to a time of 14:49.6 seconds. Carroll Shelby, driving a specially prepared Ferrari 375 Grand Prix roadster in 1956, posted a record-setting run of 10:21.8 on his way to victory. In 1961 Connecticut racer Bill Rutan drove his Carrera-powered Volkswagen to another new record time of 9:13.0 that would stand for 29 years - until the return of the race in 1990 when Tim O'Neil, a Rally driver from Franconia, NH drove his 300+ horsepower all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Rally Golf to the summit in a time of just 7 minutes and 45 seconds.
Following the return of the Mt. Washington Hillclimb in 1990 after a 29-year hiatus, the event was run annually as part of the Mt. Washington Auto Road's summer event schedule until 2001. During that time, several new records were shared between 7-time Sports Car Club of America National Rally Champion Paul Choiniere from Shelburne, VT and multi-time Canadian Rally Champion Frank Sprongl from Mississauga, Ontario. Sprongl set a record time of 6:41.99 in 1998 driving his 500 horsepower Audi Quattro S2 that would stand for 13 years until 2011.
In 2011, Subaru Rally Team USA driver and multi-time Rally America Overall Champion David Higgins from the Isle of Man came to Mt. Washington for the very first time. Driving a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2011 Subaru WRX STI all-wheel-drive rally car in the Open class without the aid of a co-driver, Higgins set a new overall course record of 6:11.54 - smashing the previous Mt. Washington Hillclimb record time set by Sprongl by more than 30 seconds!
"Sometimes the biggest battle is against the other drivers", stated 5-time Rally America Overall Champion and current Mt. Washington Hillclimb Record Holder David Higgins recently, "but racing up the Mt Washington Auto Road is very different. The road itself is the biggest battle and one I can't wait to fight again. The Mt. Washington Auto Road has it all; Tarmac, gravel, fog, crazy weather and not to mention the scenic drops! It is an immense challenge that is also steeped in history."
Organized and sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will take place at the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Pinkham Notch, Gorham, NH on June 26-29, 2014. The window for accepting entry applications from potential competitors will open at 12:01am on December 1, 2013 and close at midnight on December 31, 2013. Further information regarding the 2014 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb is available at www.climbtotheclouds.com.