The largest field of competitors to ever compete assembled to
celebrate the 110th year anniversary event
Nestled in the shadows of the Northern Presidential peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Mt. Washington Auto Road celebrated the 110th anniversary of North America’s oldest Hillclimb event June 27-29, 2014 – the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Climb to the Clouds.
Organized and promoted through a unique partnership between the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, the largest field of competitors – nearly 80 competitors in eight different classes – assembled for 3 days of competition to see who would claim the coveted “King of the Hill” honors and possibly, set a new course record on the northeast’s tallest peak – 6,288 foot Mt. Washington.
The stage was set, the course was prepared to exacting standards, and the largest number of spectators to ever attend the Climb to the Clouds was on hand to witness one of the best competitions ever held on Mt. Washington.
In the end though, only one team – the 5-time Rally America Champions and current Mt. Washington Hillclimb record holders, David Higgins along with his co-driver, Craig Drew, from Subaru Rally Team USA posted a new record with a time of 6 minutes 9.09 seconds.
Higgins was driving a Subaru rally car that weighed 500 pounds more and had one hundred horsepower less than the rally car he drove to a new record at Mt. Washington just three years earlier in 2011.
“It’s pretty awesome to break the record – and amazing, really,” said an exuberant Higgins, 41, in his Isle of Man accent when he and his rally co-driver Craig Drew celebrated at the awards ceremony Sunday afternoon. “I knew my record could be beat by someone if they drove in the same class car that I drove before, but given that the rally class was heavier and had less horsepower than the open class, I didn’t think it was possible for me. “
The first set of timed runs on the 7.4 mile tarmac and gravel course to the top of Mt. Washington proved beyond any doubt that the competition this year would be close at all levels – especially at the top. Higgins would break his existing course record, set in 2011, of 6 minutes 11.54 seconds, by just 3 tenths in his first full-course run to post a time of 6.11.24.
Just behind Higgins after the first run, was Adam Yeoman, a rally driver from Houghton, MI, driving a 2007 Subaru WRX STI posting a time of 7 minutes 2.64 seconds. In third place with a time of 7 minutes 3.02 seconds was former Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ramana Lagemann from Cambridge, MA driving a beautifully-prepared 2013 Audi S4 sedan.
With the new record time already in the books, numerous drivers tried to beat Higgins’ time in the afternoon set of timed runs. Included in the mix were Higgins’ Subaru Rally Team USA teammate, Travis Pastrana, who logged a much better 2nd time of 6 minutes 12.29 seconds and Paul Tingaud in his Audi-powered “Super Chicken” who posted a time of 6 minutes 22.70 seconds – only to be bested again by Higgins with another record-setting time of 6 minutes 9.09 seconds on his final run.
Mt. Washington Auto Road General Manager Howie Wemyss was pleased with the weekend as well. “Great weather and record spectator attendance along with some exciting action, new records and great press coverage made us very pleased,” said Wemyss Monday. Mt. Washington, after all, is “Home to the World’s Worst Weather” – so, Wemyss noted, to have three days of clear weather was a real gift for the practice runs and the race.
The 2014 Climb to the Clouds is a Hillclimb event that included the Rally America National Championship as a stage rally event. Over 80 Hillclimb cars competed, with 15 of those cars entered to compete in round five of the Rally America National Championship, separate from the normal HillClimb operations.
NBC was also on-hand for filming and has scheduled the 2014 Climb to the Clouds to air in August 2014.
First opened in 1861, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is America’s original man-made attraction. At nearly 8 miles long, it stretches to the summit of Mt. Washington at 6,288 feet, the highest peak in the Northeast. For the latest operating schedule, visit http://www.MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com or call 603.446.3988.
David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew race to the summit for the first of their two
runs at Sunday’s Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb. Higgins would go on to break his old record of 6.11.54 with a new record of 6.09.09.