By Peggy Steck
I started autocrossing back in 2001. There was this event called Larison Rock Hillclimb. My husband at the time said I might like it and should go. He had health issues and could not drive a hillcIlimb, but he supported me. I asked Bonnie if I could go as I had only a few auto crosses under my belt. She gave the usual spiel, take it easy and drive safely. I had driven safely at the autocrosses (I was really slow back then) so I had a good track record and she said I could go. So I signed up and then we started looking for race tires. We ordered Rims and race tires, but time was tight. I remember having Kumhos on the front and Hoosiers on the back cause only two of the tires had come in and America’s Tire had Hoosiers in our size that had been mistakenly ordered. They loaned us the tires since ours had not come in. Super nice of them and they eventually sold them to a guy called Tim Steck.
I had a blast, I was hooked. I even got to work the bottom of the hill and listen to my time get bettered. Woohoo. I think I went to one or two more hillclimbs that year. The next year, I went to more, Freezeout, Hoopa, Larison, Bible Creek and Bogus Basin. I think Cascade Lakes was not running then. I had better tires, a matched set now. But was still not a good enough driver to be competitive. I got beat every time there was another lady in my class. I got beat by a mustang, I even got beat by a 91 Eagle talon driven by Jennifer Bailey (by the way that, car is still running Larison). I got bested by other cars as well. But it was still a ton of fun. Eventually I got faster and better, learning the correct lines for each course and how to take the corners. But I still needed some help.
Lots of changes in my personal life and Tim and I married. Now I was really learning how to drive and learning Larison. I got videos of Larison to watch daily starting the month before the race. Really! REALLY! Crazy! But it did help. I knew the road by heart. Tim could actually talk the whole course corner by corner, saying how to take each corner all the way. My times really improved. The best way is to concentrate on driving the best line on each corner and being able to prepare for each corner before getting there. You can’t always be reacting after the corner, trying to recover. You need to know what is coming so you can set up for the next corner. Knowing the road is the best way to go fast.
We have been through several cars (not going to go into that) and I have been able to set records at Larison in most of them and several of those records should hold for quite a while. I also have been Queen of the hill at Larison many times. We are planning to go to Bible Creek this year. We really would like to go to MaryHill, but it is on the same weekend as our event 7 & 8. Maybe next year we can make more Hillclimbs. They are my favorite race, the adrenaline rush when you finish after an especially good run is awesome. Your hands and legs are shaking, you are yelling, you are on top of the world. Then the next driver appears, hand shaking, talking too loud, “how did I do, what’s my time, did I go faster”.
I have found that Hillclimb drivers are a friendly group. Always helpful and willing to give advice on how to go faster, how to drive the road, how to setup your car, tires, etc. and share a beer (after racing is done). It’s also mostly the same group of drivers, so you see the same people at each race and get to know them.
Camaraderie and fun and adrenaline. That’s what Hillclimbs are about.
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