Subaru Rally Team Driver David Higgins Crushes Mt. Washington Hill Climb Record
By Jake Lingeman
It's the season of the hill climb, those few months of the year when even the tallest mountains shed their snowcaps and open up for all manner of driver and race car.
There's the Spectre 341 Challenge in Nevada, Pikes Peak in Colorado and the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire, which just had its 13-year-old record smashed by Subaru Rally Team driver David Higgins.
Higgins's weapon of choice was a 2011 Subaru WRX STI rally car. He beat the old record, set by Frank Strongl, by more than 30 seconds and topped Travis Pastrana's unofficial time by about nine seconds. Higgins took just six minutes, 11.54 seconds from bottom to top.
The road consists of 7.6 miles of mixed gravel and pavement on Mt. Washington, which is in the Presidential range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Nearly 70 cars competed in four classes. As in the past, the weather was a complicating factor. Friday's and Saturday's practice runs stayed on the lower half of the course because of fog and rain. On Sunday, the clouds cleared enough for drivers to get in two timed laps before the haze returned.
The mountain, which has been known for weird weather, has been studied by scientists for more than 100 years. The road was built in 1861 and technically is the country's oldest man-made attraction. The climb to the 6,288-foot summit was first run in 1904.
The Subaru Rally Team now heads to Maine for the New England Rally. Higgins is currently first in the points standings in the Rally America Championship. Later, the team goes to the Summer X Games to compete in the Global Rallycross event.
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Got to love the unpredictable weather on Mt. Washington. One minute it's 70 degrees and sunny, the next it's snowing/hailing complete with thunder and lightning. And then there's those occasional 200+ mile an hour winds. Makes for memorable hiking trips.
I've only driven to the summit on this road a couple of times. Going up is fine, it's the coming down part that's a challenge. Doesn't take long to cook the brakes if you're not careful. If you like the smell of overheated brake pads, it's the place to be.
Wait till you see the Pikes Peak Rally! could be sunny, could be raining, could be snowing or all three at the same time. Not to mention tearing around a dirt road that might still have ice left over from winter.
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