Pikes Peak might get all the media attention, but the 'Climb to the Clouds' held over 7.4 miles of asphalt up New Hampshire's Mount Washington is even older, celebrating its centenary this year. While the first attempts took over 24 minutes to complete in steam-powered vehicles, recent competitions have been rather quicker.
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Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins is the most recent record-holder, setting a 6 minute, 11.54-second run in 2011 at the wheel of a WRX STI. That is until he took another two seconds off his own record at this year's event, with a 6:09.09. As Subaru's video shows, it wasn't easy-going for Higgins, nor his Subaru team-mate Travis Pastrana who suffered a puncture costing him half a minute.
As the road climbed to the 6,288-foot summit, Higgins lost two seconds by the half-way point, but snatched back time on Mt. Washington's small unpaved section and clawed back the rest on the final paved section to the top of the mountain. That's no mean feat, given each driver had to run with engine restrictions to meet Rally America regulations not imposed on some of the other cars--and both Higgins and Pastrana had to run on road tires, too.
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The result was enough to put Higgins and Subaru at the top of the table for the entire event, with not a single mistake all weekend. Well, apart from Higgins dropping his checkered flag on the way back down the hill--but even top rally drivers aren't infallible...