Travis Pastrana Sets New Mount Washington Hillclimb Record
Former record holder David Higgins crashed during his first run up the mountain.
After setting an unofficial record time up New Hampshire's Mount Washington in 2010, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana officially earned the title at this past weekend's Climb to the Clouds event. Pastrana smashed through the previously impenetrable six-minute mark with a 5:46.28 on his first run. This record would only stand for a few hours as he ran a 5:44.72 on his second run, which is now the official record.
Teammate and former record holder David Higgins is not accustomed to being on the defensive, but that seemed to change a bit this weekend. Being the previous record holder with a run of 6:09.09 at the 2014 event, plus knowing that Pastrana was faster than him during both days of practice, Higgins was in full attack mode when it was his turn to run, and set a record trap speed of 116 miles per hour in the process. However, Higgins entered the hairpin turn at Cragway too hot and went off the road.
Fortunately, unlike other parts of the mountain, he didn't have far to drop and climbed out of the car unharmed. Higgins later said that there was one more small turn before the hairpin than he remembered. His mistake threw off his rhythm, and his efforts to recover weren't enough. At the speed he was driving, there was no room for error.
One of the two Subaru Rally Team USA drivers was bound to set a new record this weekend. The team provided cars specially set up for Climb to the Clouds, originally based on the ARA stage rally setup the drivers are used to, but with an engine based on their Red Bull Global Rallycross motor. While even GRC requires a restrictor plate, here they ran no plate at all, boosting these cars over 600 horsepower—twice as much in their stage rally configuration. They were also significantly lighter than their stage rally trim and they ran without co-drivers on board.
The two drivers showed great sportsmanship and team spirit after Higgins' crash. From his vantage point at Cragway, Higgins gave Pastrana a huge thumbs up (shown up top) as he drifted past on his way to the top. When competitors came back down the mountain for their second run, Pastrana stopped and picked up Higgins. Finally, when Pastrana lined up for his second record-breaking run, Higgins himself waved the green flag to send him to break his record again.
They say that if you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute. The same can be said of Climb to the Clouds, where you never know what's going to happen as competitors race up "this sketchy mountain," as Pastrana himself called it.