Our Evo X came into our lives in 2012. With a massive Holset turbocharger, a home built intake running through a larger PERRINS intercooler, and what appeared to be a handmade turbo manifold - absent were many of the normal supporting parts for a turbo of that size. While these modifications were eyebrow raising indeed, it was of little concern as we already had a plan for this little lady.
By 2014 we had the car back together and our application was answered with an invitation to compete in the PPIHC. We were in! However, we were forced to operate with melted wheel speed sensors - meaning none of the electronic programs or drivers assists were enabled.
It was our first year and despite a healthy diet, our race weight was a hefty 3550 lbs. We had the car buttoned up and even had time to get a few shake downs in before driving it up the mountain. For this rookie year, we made it to the top with a middle of the pack place and a time of 11:40.786.
After this success, we knew we could finish and had our appetites wet and sights set on going faster. Much faster.
For 2015, we replaced the factory spoiler with an off-the-shelf wing, tightened up the front splitter and opted for some wider, lighter rims. Aside from burning an oil feed line and having our first engine fire (it was a small fire), we got to practice in the rain, shed a couple hundred pounds off the car, put on some stiffer springs, did a proper corner balance and alignment - not much changed. The car was strong. We tweaked the engine to produce about 475 awhp and felt very confident. Additionally, we had the transmission rebuilt and strengthened, converted to a mechanical rear differential, stronger tubular front and rear subframes.
Then we crashed.
Aside from the crushing disappointment, we were still very excited about the potential of the Evo X.
Preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb began and we decided to work on gaining a little more throttle response and a broader power band. A new turbo setup was built. A wide body kit, very large spoiler, strong front splitter were added, and an engine blew on the dyno. Things were not going smoothly, but the car looked very mean.
Our problems were not yet over.
Practicing the upper section, we used a fire extinguisher for the second time. Fire seemed exciting when I was a little kid, but now it is simply dreadful. The day after our qualifying runs (three days before race day) our turbo exploded. The final practice session was missed and we had not had a single problem free day of practice.
Confidence thouroughly shaken - we raced a car with an engine, turbo, tune and aerodynamics package that was absolutely foreign. The summit never looked so glorious! But alas, the engine was on fire again. This time I cannot stop laughing because now it does not matter. We made it to the top!
Fifth place and a time of 10:57.684. While this was a vast improvement, the car still weighed 3300 lbs, leaving a tremendous amount of untapped potential remaining.
There was no waiting to start the transformation of the Evo X this year. Stripped down to a bare chassis, just about all that remains from the “old car” is the engine long block, drivers seat, steering wheel, aerodynamics brakes and suspension. The list of changes is still growing.
Unfortunately, we were a little overly ambitious with the overhaul and did not give ourselves enough time. The car did not make it to the Race to the Clouds this year. With plenty of time to prepare for next year, the team has already begun rebuilding!
Despite the disappointment of not being able to run PPIHC last year, we did have a running car, but only just. As we ran the car, some electrical gremlins began to rear their hideously ugly faces. Starting with an occasional tripped breaker during Pikes Peak testing events with a complete shutdown on a practice morning, we thought we had them all sorted.
Qualifying morning we were reminded that Pikes Peak co-authored Murphy’s Law. The car ran perfectly the prior day, but when the runs were going to count, the temperamental wiring harness went nuclear when our fuel pump decided to fail, seemingly without warning. The meltdown exposed a monumental flaw in the wiring harness, in that all of the main relays were daisy-chained (wired in series, not parallel). This in turn meant that the fuel pump did not die alone. It also took out our ECU.
The team were in a mad scramble, and with only a couple of days before the race, retire was a four letter word. We got a new ECU hand delivered out of Canada by our good friends at Magnus Motorsports, the relays re-wired, and a new fuel pump.
Race day arrived, and since we were unable to post a qualifying time, we started at the back of the pack. For those familiar with Pikes Peak, the chance of weather in the afternoon on race day is about the same as the chance of the sun rising. This race would be no different. With just under a dozen of us competitors waiting to take the green flag, the skies opened up and dropped hail. About 4 inches of the stuff above devils playground.
We completed our run with the second fastest time, on the shortened course. It sometimes seems silly to make a short run with so much at risk, and no chance to win, but as Robin Shute said, “I didn’t wait all day in the cold and wet to not race!”