The Spectre 341 Challenge is in the books and we came away with some mixed feelings after what was an awesome event up until the last 10 minutes of competition when a fellow competitor lost his life after plunging over a cliff.
“Keep your foot to the floor until the thrill of speed is overcome by the fear of death.” And that was in play here if you have never been up this road this fast.
Quote by Lou Gigliotti – LG Motorsports (about Spectre 341 Challenge and eventual winner)
Starting in 2007 our beloved GMC Syclone began its transformation into what you see in the accompanying photographs. I cannot even begin to explain in words how much time, money and and effort was put into this project. Trying to turn chicken shit into chicken salad required an engineering feat of epic proportions.
The inaugural Spectre 341 Challenge hill climb was held on June 25-26, 2010 on the truck route below Virginia City, Nevada known as Hwy 341. The roadway was temporarily closed to the public for the event so folks with no common sense(like us) could scorch up the 5.2 mile treacherous route.
What makes this event particularly dangerous is the fact that this road was never designed with road racing in mind. Big drop offs, no guard rails (where they should exist), rock walls, horses, debris, less than ideal asphalt and even rogue automobiles are a potential threat. The road follows the natural curve of the mountain and brings all sorts of interesting variables into play.
The initial 1/3 of the road quickly gains elevation through relatively tight camber turns eventually slightly leveling out into some very hairy high speed sections and ultimately tightening back up into a slalom series of twisty corners with several off camber sections that can catch even the most experienced drivers out if they not familiar with the road.
Our Syclone posted a best time of 3:53 seconds for 11th place overall. Anything under 4 minutes is flying and we averaged a speed of 80 mph up 341 which is a lot considering many corners are marked 25 mph!
Professional race car drivers in big dollar monster rides dominated the event. ALMS GT2 and ex World Challenge driver Lou Gigliotti ended up winning in his modified ZR1 Corvette with Steve Millen taking 2nd place honors in his monster Nissan GTR.
It should be noted that the Viper ACR was deemed ineligible by race officials as it was running tires with an 80 tread wear rating. The rules state tires must be 100 tread wear or higher. Britt Mark Gillies from Car & Driver Magazine drove this car and from what I have been told he was faster than Michael Schumacher in a professional race in the past.
Worthy of mentioning was a local guy and personal friend Jeremy Kappus, who ended up taking 3rd in his 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution RS, giving the pros quite a scare. He actually was leading after the 1st day! A perfect combination of car setup and driving talent.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that is exactly what happened. VR Alexander was driving his modified Porsche 911 Turbo and carried too much speed into the turn, locked up his brakes and plunged 200 feet off the side of a cliff after the big straight and was instantly killed.
Ironically the Spectre 341 Challenge was the first officially timed hill climb on Hwy 341 since the last officially timed event back in 2002 when a driver lost control of his Dodge Viper killing himself and his passenger.
According to all reports the Spectre 341 will return to the infamous Hwy 341 in 2011.
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