Clint Vahsholtz not only had to wait until his 29th “Climb to the Clouds” attempt, but even then, the start of the 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was delayed, first a few months by the coronavirus pandemic, and then on race day because of ice on the route.
When the 98th race up the mountain ended, Vahsholtz finally had claimed his first overall victory in America’s second-oldest motorsport competition, which started in 1916. Vahsholtz had led his class 23 times, but this was his first overall victory.
Vahsholtz lives not far from the mountain in Woodland Park, Colorado, and his father, Leonard, an 18-time class winner, and his son, Codie, both have been hill-climb racers.
Vahsholtz won this year in what is officially a 2013 open-class Ford, basically a home-built, open-wheel, Ford-powered racer with huge front and rear aerodynamic wings to provide downforce on the 12.42-mile mountain road that climbs through 156 turns to a finish line at 14,115 feet elevation.
Vahsholtz, a former NASCAR Busch-series racer, reached the finish line in 9 minutes, 35.490 seconds. He averaged 75.066 mph on an extremely treacherous route, this year deemed too dangerous for the motorcycle class, which meant that Vahsholz’s son, Codie, helped crew for his father instead of riding to the summit on his two-wheel machine.
Finishing second, at 9:36.181, was another local veteran, Paul Dallenbach, in a 2006 PVA-03 Dallenbach Special, with David Donner third in a 2019 Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport at 9:36.559.
Another Porsche-backed driver, fast-qualifier David Donohue (yes, son of the famed Mark Donohue), suffered a flat tire midway up the mountain and did not finish.
While Vahsholtz and Dallenbach were in the Open Wheel class, Donner was racing in the Time Attack category that features OEM factory entries, this year including those from Porsche and Acura.