Our story of the most MENTAL hillclimb we’ve ever raced.

“Mount Washington the biggest little mountain in the world.”-Powelson

The Climb to the Clouds was an auto race up a mountain, the mountain was New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

“Mount Washington to me is a special place because it is such an historic place they held the first race there in 1904 so it’s the oldest hillclimb around. They were racing a car against a horse and buggy that’s how early this hill climb came on”. – Powelson

The gala opening of the road took place on august 1st 1861, making the carriage road the oldest man-made tourist attraction in America. 

“The biggest test that we as a manufacturer could throw at our SIERRA platform is Pikes Peak and now Mount Washington. These hillclimbs are literally the most demanding racing environments that any car could be in.” -O.P. Andersen

The inaugural climb to the clouds was held July 11th and 12th 1904 seven years before the first 500-mile race at Indianapolis and 12 years before the inaugural Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado.

“When I call it a tarmac rally stage I truly believe that it’s one of the most difficult tarmac rally stages if you compare with some of the best stages in the world.” – Powelson

Ben Haulenbeek

With its average 12 percent grade auto manufacturers believed that the carriage road would be the perfect proving ground to demonstrate the ability of their horseless carriages 

“The first time that I ever heard about Mount Washington was a couple years ago when David Higgins broke the record for Subaru.” -Anderson

“Not being that familiar with Mount Washington, we watched some in-car video from Travis Pastrana when he broke the record. Holy cow! This is like the craziest road I’ve ever seen!”-Andersen

“I watched the video first time and it scared me. I was thinking what are we doing sending Cole up this mountain. There’s a lot of other races that are closer and different things he could do and not this!” -Mark Hermansen

“We went there with the sole purpose of being the fastest two wheel drive car” – Cole Powelson

“First practice was on the upper section, they split the mountain in half and all of the competitors just run upper half. We weren’t quite prepared to do that, and i expected to have some crew and some tires and tools and basic stuff like that, nothing. They send you up there where you start at the halfway point, and you get whatever you brought up as a driver”. -Powelson

“There’s no crew there’s no extra help allowed, so we just sat at the bottom and waited to hear what happened. It was kind of crazy to not know if he’s okay. We didn’t know what his times are, We didn’t know anything and with us having nothing to do but just sit out and hang out underneath some shade. ” -Hermansen

 “It was kind of trial by fire and that was the first time I’ve gotten to drive the course at any sort of speed. -Poweslon

“It was mind-bending to to go through that upper section with the sheer cliff exposure.”-Powelson

Ben Haulenbeek

And the rocks, there’s rocks in the asphalt next to the road, if you clip a rock it tears a corner off, you’re off the cliff! -Powelson

“There was definitely some some red flag moments on that upper section, that first day of practice” – Cole Powelson

“I got to the top and I’ll never forget Pastrana telling me; I told him I was airborne three times on the course, He’s like yeah you gotta be really careful with that because as you go faster you’ll jump further and then you miss your turning point because you landed further out”. -Powelson

“Once Cole and John came down to the pits We were hoping that everything had gone smoothly because again we had zero communication with them”. -Andersen

“So sick man! That road is unreal, it’s scary! I’m not familiar with it at all, It’s like I’ve never driven up, it’s a lot different than the rental car at 20mph. You go from 40mph to 60mph like that (snaps finger) but you can’t see around the next corner. I use more throttle inputs and outputs during the shortest amount of miles, the ratio is not good, it’s embarrassing. Yeah I went airborne once on the first run and then the second run I picked up a little more speed, as the aero comes in it starts to feel good, but it’s so technical oh my gosh!” -Powelson

“Instantly the look on Cole’s face was reassurance to us that he was in a good mood – which is always a big deal, and also that the car the car was working. ” – Andersen

“I got two runs in, that’s what everybody got. There’s over 70 competitors on the mountain all trying to make their runs, we made two it was a good day and called it. We knew the weather was rolling in for day 2.” -Powelson

“Rain nothing but rain, the forecast showed rain, the locals told us it was going to rain and that’s what it did. It rained and rained and rained..”-Poweslon

“We were kind of playing it by ear when Cole was going to go to make his practice run.”-Andersen

‘As I hate to miss any practice time at all, It’s not good practice. It won’t be a comfortable situation, yesterday I felt comfortable. I’m good with car the dirt on the road was a little uncomfortable because there was more marbles on it than I had seen the previous two days.”-Powelson

I didn’t even bother trying to make a first run just because it’s a scary course! and i didn’t expect to learn much driving a rain covered course when I saw the good weather for race day”-Powelson 

“John decided to run the first session we put his rains on. He ran it with no issues, He actually loved the rains more than he did his slicks”. -Hermansen

“John he’s not pushing to make break any records or anything, just stay on the road and have a good time, and i think he did that for sure.” -Hermansen

“We were kind of waiting for a gap in the weather to send Cole and luckily we timed it so that Cole’s practice run was going to be at the end of our run group. He was going to be like the last car up and the roads were going to be as dry as possible” -Andersen

Chris Allen

“So at this point, it’s the end of day two last practice I’ve only had three looks of the mountain we’re talking 10-minutes of practice time at real speed.. that’s not a lot of time.” -Powelson

“He was telling us that the bottom section is so much crazier than the top which is opposite of what we were anticipating” -Andersen

“I scared myself a few times”-Powelson

“Because cold slicks on wet road, and John was right, on the new asphalt you can’t tell what’s wet and what’s dry. I had a couple moments but we’re good” -Powelson

“Any issues”-Andersen

“Yeah the road was still wet” – Powelson

“Day two, that’s the official qualifying time. I couldn’t believe where I ended up. I’m sitting there looking up live timing. I see my time, I’m like cool I’m fastest in my class and I couldn’t find the overall results. I went to the overall page and I kept scrolling up and down like to find if somebody was miss classed. I’m like holy behind the man! (Pastrana)

Cole Powelson | Travis Pastrana

“I don’t care how big the gap is just to be there, unbelievable!”-Powelson

“With just the one run, I ended up second behind Pastrana.. Huge gap to him but it didn’t matter he’s in a superhuman category I’m in a regular human category so I was winning at that point” -Powelson

“The driver that Travis Pastrana is and the Vermont Sports Car Subaru, we literally could not have asked for abetter result after the first run of the mountain” -Andersen

“I knew there was plenty of time to improve plenty of spots to improve but it gave me a lot of confidence and I felt like i already won at that point. You know being being second to a guy like that, It felt really good seeing my name under his on qualifying day. That really gave me the spark, energy and desire to finish behind him on race day.” -Powelson

“Race Day is upon us”-Andersen

“Cole’s had two practice days to learn the mountain as best as he can, but he’s never completed a run at speed, he practiced the top section he practiced the bottom section. Now he’s got to put it all together.. and not die. “-Andersen

“Cole yes he’s my boss, but at the end of the day he’s actually a really really good friend of mine. It freaks me out to watch him do what he does.” -Hermansen

“I wasn’t going to get rained out, there was no excuses, it was time to put in a result.” -Powelson

“Cole was going to start second to last in the first round group. On race day we get two chances to the top of the mountain. Right before Cole goes out, I just reassure him, we’ve got two chances, this isn’t like Pike’s Peak where you only get one chance. We get two chances up this mountain just make it to the top, let’s make it a second run at this mountain. If he wants to go fast a second time, let’s do it, but first let’s get a time on the board. -Andersen

The road is so crazy by itself that there’s times that the belly of the car are literally dragging on the ground.- Andersen

“It’s like a seven mile run but so many of the corners look exactly the same.”-Andersen

“I was just committed to myself to only drive what I could see not get too excited and stay comfortable.” -Powelson

“Cole could not go any faster in this on these dirt roads in this car, he’s absolutely pushing it to the limits.”-Andersen

Chris Allen

“You drive into one of the gnarliest sections of this racecourse with dirty tires that have lost temp and it’s scary because you don’t know when they’re going to come in” -Powelson

“To see how fast Cole was going up this mountain is completely mind-blowing because this is his first time there, this is his first time competing, first time driving this car at speed, on this road.”-Andersen

The ALPHA is just an insane monster of a car!.”-Andersen

“It was spooky! You get to the top and talk with Travis and Chris and we were jokingly semi-serious saying I don’t think we need to make a second run, we all pushed hard and it’s a scary place!”-Powelson

Ben Haulenbeek

“Man what a challenging place, it was unlike any other section of road i’ve ever been allowed to race on. I’ve driven similar sections on different windy roads and mountain road but never been able to race, never been able to go flat out, never had the mountain to myself.

“Pikes Peak has its own set of challenges, very dangerous, very daunting but not quite as mental as Mount Washington”-Powelson

‘We reset the two-wheel drive record so mission accomplished. But we have another run where people can go quicker. I don’t know, how much quicker I can go. I made tons of mistakes, the car can go quicker, I’m just like processing it as quick as I can, It’s just too much to bring in, like the whole run is blur.” -Powelson

“Cole had already broken the open wheel track record. He had already secured in second place and he didn’t need to prove anything else. It was so crazy because I remember thinking, Travis Pastrana had already broken his record, Cole had already broken the record and was already in second place.”-Andersen

“Do we need to make a second run? Because it’s like a cat with nine lives, how many chances do you get up this mountain where you’re pushing as hard as we are before something bad happens?”-Andersen

“His only objective for the second run was just push at the same speed but smoother… knowing coal that just means that he’s going to end up going faster anyway.” -Andersen

“I get up to the summit on the second run and it’s a sense of relief honestly, I didn’t want to drive the road anymore. I’d put down all the effort, all the mental capacity, the best drive I could do, I was wiped there was no more.”-Powelson

“Somebody says hey man you look really happy!? -Powelson

“Yeah I didn’t die! S*it man this road’s F**king insane.” -Powelson

“Everyone wants to go to to Pikes Peak and then you come here” -competitor

“No, Pikes Peak is like cruising to church” -Powelson

“I didn’t even know my time, I didn’t care, I had finished, I was done, I didn’t have to drive a stupid mountain again that day.” -Powelson

“It turns out that he was quick enough that again, he had sealed in second place behind Travis Pastrana” -Andersen

“It wasn’t until after the event that I realized that second to Pastrana, we had the fastest time that had ever been recorded there. It was mind-blowing, I’m still getting over it at this point.”-Powelson

“We seriously could not have asked for abetter weekend, As a team it was literally the most excited i’ve been in a long time about anything”. -Andersen

“John as he always does, real sensible approach takes his time learning the mountain gets as much practice time as he can and ended up I 17th overall and 3rd the Open Light Class”-Powelson

“The best thing was our goals for the weekend was to get on the podium with Travis, and we did that.” -Hermansen

1st Place Open Light Class

Amanda Lass

2nd Overall

Amanda Lass

2WD Record 6:07.731

“The fact that our two-wheel drive turbo, shop built SIERRA ALPHA was going this fast this reliably, this was again like the greatest weekend that we’ve had in competition this year” -Andersen

I couldn’t be more happy with the result. Standing up there with two of the most respected drivers that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing seat time with, is something I’ll always cherish and remember for the rest of my life. -Cole Powelson

O.P. Andersen | Cole Powelson | Mark Hermansen