SCCA’s Central Carolina Region hosted another great event in Robbinsville at the 7th Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb presented by TOYO! Although weather played a role in keeping our drivers from records being set, the competition was close in many classes. Over 2400 spectators came to watch the event and enjoy hamburgers, BBQ and funnelcakes while watching cars and drivers compete for trophies and cash on the 2.2 mile course. The range of cars went from rally cars, a vintage MGA, Porsche GT3 RSR , Evo, Ariel Atom, Brunton Staker, FFR Daytonas, chump cars and many street prepped cars. We had great attendance of drivers along with many first timers at our hill. We also welcomed back Cory Friedman, our current overall record holder and the first winner of the Dragonslayer sword at the very first Dragon Hillclimb in 2011.
The event began earlier in the week with Ted Theodore, George Bowland and others that came to prep the hill, cleaning, mowing and weed-eating the worker and spectators areas. Hay bales were wrapped in white plastic and placed along the course. We owe a big thanks to all who came, worked, towed trailers and helped set up and take down the mountain. Rolling out 2 miles of wire from the back of a truck is a lot of work but necessary for timing and scoring. The hardest part is at the end of day Sunday, rolling it all back up! (Thanks Scott Sipler for staying and helping). Friday, registration was held downtown at The Hub before drivers took their places in the paddock and set up for the weekend. First timers on the hill met Friday night at Microtel to go over the course, the danger areas, protocols and event flow with an instructor and mentors.
Saturday morning went smoothly with our Launch tire and dragon in the air and course green. The damp course was a challenge for our drivers and some did get bit by the dragon. The saying “Saturday is for wreckers and Sunday is for checkers” is never more true than at a hillclimb! In spite of the occasional rain, the competition heated up in many classes and put on a great show for our spectators and course workers. We were honored to have Area 12 Director Tere Pulliam running her first hillclimb in a CSP Miata! Thanks to her and her husband Larry for coming and running with us! I suspect we will see them on the hill next year in THEIR car! We were also pleased to have Thach take a run up the mountain again in Elvira. Thach is a NC Highway Patrolman who is well known in the area… and if we can get him a car, whatever class he is in will have a new contender!
The Saturday night dinner at the Huddle House was enjoyed by workers and drivers. Steak night has now become Steak AND Hat night with prizes for best hats.
Sunday was some slight rain on and off during the day and the course never did completely dry out. While this made record setting runs impossible, it created extra challenge in the competition to get the most out of their cars while making safe runs. Our drivers did a fine job and the crowd cheered on our drivers with cowbells. The younger spectators had plenty to do meeting drivers, getting autographs and playing with dragons! One driver who hoped to make this year’s hillclimb had started a car build specifically for this event and tracked his progress through a blog. He was unable to chase away all the gremlins and decided to leave his car home and come watch. One of our drivers, Rocco Bocchiccio offered his BMW to allow Perry Boykin to make his dream of a hillclimb run! THIS is the sportsmanship and fun we see all see and enjoy! You can expect Perry and his wife, Jamie will be joining us at Dragon 8 in their own car! Another driver and long time hillclimber, Ray Cockerel from Black Mountain, NC began a build of his F500 well over a year ago. He completed the car and with support from his wife Sheila was able to debut his car at the Dragon! We look forward to having Sheila back running with us next year. Another driver, Roy Erickson, bought a Miata 2 years ago with the dream of building it up specifically for time trial and hillclimb. His car known as Breester was finished a week before the event and he fulfilled his goal of competing. Two other drivers Nate Wimbrow and Bill Hightower were co-driving Nate’s Spec Miata and had the differential pop on their first run on Saturday. This was disappointing as Nate brought family down from New Hampshire just to run this event. A few phone calls later, Henry and Joe Bryan Payne with HP Motors in Pelzer, SC offered their ITA Miata on loan to Nate. Nate spent all day Saturday taking his car back to Greenville, picking up the ITA so he could run Sunday! All went well with their Sunday runs and the weekend was not lost. Thanks to Joe Bryan and Henry for their help!
At the close of the event, we brought our drivers, crews, event staff and many spectators that stayed for the trophy presentation. Tabitha arranged for Miss Black Knight to assist our Dragon (Julius Binninger) with awarding the trophies and money! There were too many outstanding drives : First timer Ned Neuhaus did amazingly well in his Brunton Stalker. Matt Brandenburg and Sebastian Kokoszka in their first run at the Dragon were fearless in their rally cars! Gage Gregory is always fast on the edge in his car… another great run! Another first time, Allen Skillcorn in the LeGrand DSR was 3rd overall in his first event! Cameron Lane with a 4th place was hoping for a better finish but 4th overall is excellent. With some new findings after the event, Cameron may have found a little some extra to show up with at the Dragon 8! George Bowland, Robert Martai and Robert McManus finished in 5th, 6th and 7th with awesome runs especially considering the weather. In the end, no ladies were close to Vicki Lanning Eckerich as she captured ANOTHER Dragonslayer sword for Queen of the Hill. For King of the Hill, it was Heikki Rinta-Koski in his Locost 7 and Cory Friedman in his Porsche GT3 RSR. Both turned in incredibly fast runs on the damp course… with Heikki turning in a 117.510 (just a second slower than his best time ever) and Cory running a 116.487. Cory took the King of the Hill honors for the second time and now is the owner of TWO Dragonslayer swords. Heikki owns six swords and will be back in the Spring, ready to do battle with the Dragon again!
We owe many thanks to our sponsors, TOYO Tires, Appalachian Tire, Greg and The Hub, Brent and Shelly Hyperformance, Grassroots Motorsports, Darryl and Lori of Killboy.com, HeadHeldHigh.com, Tabitha, Steven, Meghan, Jessica and Nikita from Graham County Travel & Tourism. Also thanks to our event staff, Don Drennon and his F&C workers, Rich and his Timing and Scoring Staff (Eric, Nancy, Lea, Julius). Thanks to Mark Wall who sweated away all weekend to be our on course Sasquatch! Rick Mitchell, Lance, Barbara, Robert, our grid/starters and stewards did an awesome job! A Special thanks to Mark Eversoll … excellent job on communications and control. Steve Eckerich in the CCR Board members who all stepped up to help! AND a thanks to all the first time workers like Jaime and Amanda Honeycutt. We appreciate greatly the sponsors and support from Graham County : Tabitha with Travel & Tourism, Terinda and Charlie with US Forest Services, NC. DOT, Juanita at GC Transit, Matt and Amanda at Huddle House and Lary and the Graham County EMS and Rescue Squad. Thank you ALL for your help and support! We will see you again in the Spring when we wake the Dragon for Dragon 8! FULL RESULTS : chasing the dragon 7_fin_ chasing the dragon 7_raw_