Friday, August 3, 2018

My Climb to the Clouds

In 2011 I was starting to think that my next car would be a Subaru. When I took to YouTube to look up "Subaru Racing", the first thing that showed up was a recent record attempt up a mountain that hit home for me. David Higgins took a Vermont SportsCar-prepared Subaru WRX STI #75 up the Mt Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire where I grew up. By the end of his 6-minute streak up the twisty road to the 6,800 ft peak, I not only wanted a Subaru, but I also wanted to get into rally.

You could say I was bitten by the Rally bug hard. I've owned 5 Subarus, competed in 25 NRSCCA Rallycross events (so far), and have attended 3 National-level stage rally events since seeing that video 7 years ago. It's been so much fun learning, competing, and getting to know the community around rally. Starting out with local NRSCCA Rallycross events really got me hooked on competing not just for the thrill of racing, but the people who raced and worked at events were so encouraging and great to learn from. From there I met even more people in the rally community from all around the country by attending events when I could.

Recently, I decided to take a trip that would take me full-circle back to that initial spark that got me hooked on rallying. Nowadays I live 1,500 Miles away from that mountain, which accounts for a 22.5 Hour drive. Still, I took my own WRX STI wearing that familiar "#75" on the rear wing and made it to Mt Washington to drive up it myself. Upon arriving there were instantly memories of growing up there as a kid, but also remembering all the videos and in-car footage from the record attempts that I have watched over the years. I pulled up to where the starting line was, let the minivan full of kids get a nice long gap ahead of me, and set off up the mountain. 

I wasn't ripping up at full throttle by any means, but it was still a thrill to take that turn and feel that bump and see the sun flickering through trees. With the windows down, I could hear the rumble of my exhaust echoing through the canopy of trees overhead. As I got closer to the top, the treeline withered away as sharp rocks took their place. These narrow twisting bumpy roads I was climbing up had seen much faster cars and much braver drivers than I was, so it was humbling to think about the speed and talent that hurled these hillclimb drivers to the top. 

When I reached the 6,800 ft peak of Mt Washington, my cheekbones were killing me from all the smiling I had endured. Never before had just a few miles of road made me that satisfied. Somewhere between the long journey to get there, the trip in this car flying my hero's number on the wing, and the spectacular view from the top, I just had to pause for a moment to take it all in. It's not the tallest mountain in the world, it's not the longest hillclimb event ever, but just a few years ago I was watching professional rally drivers and hillclimb experts try to make their way up. Now here I was with my Subaru parked at the peak. Thinking of everything that had led me to this point really made me grateful for the support of the community that keep me coming back to race, to keep improving, and to share more experiences with people as crazy as I am... and then some.

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