Pikes Peak might always be known as “Unser Mountain” to auto racing fans around the world. But the Vahsholtz family now owns it.
Woodland Park's own Clint and Codie, also known as father and son, each won their divisions at the 91st running of the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 30. Coupled with Leonard's 18 wins (Clint's dad/Codie's grandfather) the Vahsholtz family now has 39 victories - one more than the famed Unsers.
“I always dreamed of getting our family to that next level,” said Codie, 22, a 2009 Woodland Park High School graduate. “I feel ecstatic now that it's happened.”
Clint won in his first attempt in the Open Wheel Division - a 2013 Ford Open. His time of 11 minutes, 5.05 seconds was impressive considering the murky conditions he had to race in as clouds, rain and snow became an issue as the day wore on.
Codie competed in the 250cc motorcycle division, setting an all-time record in the class of with a time 11:24.494 - 28 seconds faster than second-place finisher Jason Archuleta of Colorado Springs. Archuleta held the previous record of 11:41, set in 2012.
“I'm really thankful to the Lord that he could give me the opportunity to do this,” said Codie, who also raced Pikes Peak in 2011 and 2012. “I felt focused all week. I felt really confident that I could make a good, clean run up the mountain and that we could walk away with a victory.”
Clint and Codie drove/rode in completely different conditions. When Codie took off at about 9:30 a.m., temperatures were in the mid 60s at the start line with perfect visibility. By the time Clint made his run at about 3:20 p.m., he had to deal clouds, fog and slick roads caused by rain and snow. It was not a “Race to the Clouds” for Clint, but rather a “Race through the Clouds.”
“I went through a dense fog patch below Mile Marker 16,' Clint said. “I thought it was raining, I could hardly see through my face mask.”
Clint cleaned the muck off his helmet by using paper towels as wiper blades that had been taped to his arms. By the time Clint was ready for his run, the mountain was under a flash flood warning.
The slick conditions caused the usually aggressive Clint to take things a little slower.
“A time or two the car chopped sideways,” Clint said. “I gave it the best run I could given the conditions.
“You take it as you can get it. I'll take it as a win and we'll move forward.”
The Vahsholtz's have been competing on Pikes Peak as a family for nearly 40 years. Leonard, the owner of Clint's car, began his career in the 1970s, winning his last title in 2007. He also won an exhibition truck title in 2008, but the family does not officially count that as a victory.
The Vahsholtz's arrived at the mountain early Sunday morning - about 3 a.m. - to get set up and ready for the long day ahead. Clint visited with Codie prior to his run up the 12.42-mile course and gave him some final instructions. (Clint was a three-time winner in motorcycles back in the early 1990s and knows a thing or two about making a good run)
While Clint ate a breakfast burrito, Codie got his game face on and waited in line for his run with members of his crew, as well as the bike's owner, Gary Steinberger of Colorado Springs.
Clint had no way to immediately congratulate Codie since telephone reception is non-existent on most of the mountain. So he had to wait about six hours until he reached the top.
“I was so excited for Codie to get that first win,” Clint said. “He had that eye all week. I hardly had to say anything to him.
“Gary Steinberger put a motorcycle under him that he could win in. And he went out there and did it.”