When you look back at what you’ve accomplished in life, there will be a handful of experiences that stand out. For us, this is one of those moments.


It hurt to go there for five years in a row only to get my balls stepped on, pushed down and rejected by the mountain. You know the mountain decides ultimately, and looking back on it I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t prepared. -Cole Powelson

“I hadn’t earned it yet.” -Cole Powelson

“Year after year, the goal has always been sub-10 minutes.” -Cole Powelson

To go sub-10 at Pikes Peak is one of those like monumental achievements that not everybody knows about. Those that know Pikes Peak understand how long people have tried to go under 10 minutes. -O.P. Anderson

It’s 2020!. We’re back, we brought four cars to Tech at Pike’s Peak this year. It was myself, Aaron Kaufman and John Mcinnes. We’ve got reverse! We’ve got SADEV, we have a whole bag of tricks in the rear end of this car. -CP

The first day was qualifying, so we had to be performing well right out of the gate.

John Mcinnes and Aaron Kaufman, their cars are running perfectly. -OP

I knew the paddle-shift system on the ALPHA would be quicker, could be quicker. We elected to test that for the qualifying day and it didn’t go well..

Flat foot up shifts were rad worked smooth, exactly as you would suspect, but we were unable to get the downshifts dialed in, and resulted in a gearbox failure.

We qualified poorly but it really wasn’t a reflection of what the car could do. It got us the time on the board, so I chose not to make anymore runs after that. We went back to the house and made an engine/gearbox swap overnight. The team worked very hard to give me an even better car with a new engine that next day. -CP

So we took it to Upper Section to break it in.

We put a manual shifter back in the ALPHA, so he didn’t have to worry about the paddle shifting. We believe that was the issue for the gearbox failure. It was kind of a sacrifice, because we knew that the paddle shifts would be faster, but having a reliable car that made it to the top, was way more important. -OP

All three cars all week were flawless, the two other RX3’s were running really well, and didn’t need much attention. They were just turning laps, they were learning the course. Kaufman’s a bit of a veteran there, John Mcinnes is a rookie, and those guys needed seat time. They just needed more experience on the mountain. It went really smooth that day. -CP

Moving on from Upper Section on the second test day, to Middle Section. It’s a lot of switchbacks, It’s a lot of drag races, It’s a lot of corner to corner racing.

At this point, I had a little bit of heat and temp in the motor and I was ready to pick up the pace. -CP

The mental preparation that you set yourself up for, how you go about approaching this course is unlike anything I’ve ever done.

As I’m out there charging the practice days, I’m leaving something in reserve. Let’s say I’m going 80/85 percent, maybe even 90 percent towards the end of practice. I’m leaving something on the table and what I’m leaving on the table is Race Day. If I have drama at 80/85 percent I know I need to watch out for that section. That section on Practice Day, I run during a different time than Race Day. Hours apart! So it’s not even the same course, the sun’s in a different spot, it may be hotter/cooler, there may be fluids down from previous competitors. There’s a lot to process, but I always leave a little bit in reserve for race day. So I can push a little bit harder. -CP

I was able to to reel in some of the front line competitors. I think I ended up third place in practice, maybe second. I was with some fast guys at that point and it started to show the pace of the car. -CP

Race Day

The 98th running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Pikes Peak Race Day has to be the most frustrating hours leading up to something exciting you’ll ever experience. -Sheldon Marra

“It’s nerve-wracking. It’s terrifying and this is the most dangerous race track on the planet, and we’re getting ready to send our friend to the top.” -O.P. Anderson

We were in a good spot, we were positioned properly to be able to make a run. the weather looked like it was going to play along this year for the first time ever. -CP

I had the time to mentally get in the right spot to take a charge up the mountain. -CP

He’s in preparation mode, he doesn’t want any distractions, he doesn’t seem like the usual playful joking Cole that we have 364 days of the year. -OP

Before he hops in the car, Cole goes around and hugs every member of the team. -OP

He got to me, and I was grateful I had sunglasses on. You realize the real risk in a race like Pikes Peak. -SM

I give him a big hug, let him know I’m proud of him. This is it, this is our year. -OP

That moment comes up where the officials come and tell you you’re up next and then it hits you, this is one shot, you don’t get a restart, the stupidest little things can screw up a run.

You go from sitting with nothing to do, to this laundry list of things that you have to do quickly. -SM

Cole Powelson in another open wheel special, very short wheelbase. It’s gonna be twisty turbocharged 1300 cc, his best time is under 11 minutes. -PPIHC Announcer

Waiting for that car to go off the line! Cole Powelson, this will be a high revving! __ oh listen to that scream away!

Wow that took off quickly! -PPHIC Announcer

He is ripping! The commentator is talking about how fast this car is. Remember we’re competing against cars with big V8 motors and we have a 1.3 liter turbocharged bike engine. -SM

He’s moving through the first section I think he’s he’s only a couple sections off of the fastest time. -OP

Through the second sector he’s actually up, he’s in the green which means he’s moving faster than anybody else through that section. -OP

He’s keeping the piece up, cant’ wait to hear the scream of the 1300 engine!

Here it is, he’s leading on that!

246-1 lost a couple of seconds there he’s in for a mid-nine 9:30 something. 9:35 maybe 9:40. -PPIHC Announcer

We’re going fast. Cole comes into the third section, the final section of the mountain and we know that he’s neck and neck with the fastest times of the day. -OP

Listen in the distance for the sound of that torched in 1300cc turbocharged engine!

PPIHC Announcer

Oh he’s got a bit of smoke, a little bit of smoke just coming out the back is that tyre spinning up? maybe.

Looks like turbo smoke its white! -PPHIC Announcer

Suddenly we’re just looking at each other, what has happened? What went wrong? -SM

Dropped off a few seconds in that third sector, after being very quick indeed. -PPIHC Announcer

“I couldn’t lift” -Cole Powelson

When I summited.. I was just so stoked that I summited. I knew I drove quick, I didn’t think I drove fast at that point, because I knew I had made mistakes on the way up.

I was just stoked to summit, it just felt so good.

They pulled up some timing, which was still refreshing, and nobody really knows, so I asked another person, and another person.


She gave me the time again, and I saw it on the official chart and I was just like 9:37! Are you lying to me!? -CP

If anything was more consistent than driving, it was crying during interviews at the summit, I went five for five, I just broke into tears.

[NEWS INTERVIEW] You know, It’s my fifth year driving, Six years as team owner, it’s a weight off my shoulders. Oh my god it feels good man. You’re away from your family, or in the shop, it takes away your time and money. Sometimes you wonder if it’s even worth it, I tell you it is. -CP

Not only did he beat his personal record he went substantially faster than that, and as a team we couldn’t have been more ecstatic. -OP

You’re running around, you’re high-fiving your friends, wiping Caleb’s tears up for him, and then you realize oh we still have two cars that need to go up the mountain -SM

We got the tire warmers on John’s car. He was super confident with the car, he didn’t want to make any changes to the car all week. He was so happy with how everything felt that he was just going to drive it, and he’s an incredible driver.

54 is John Mcinnes, he’s a rookie! -PPIHC Announcer

It’s another 1300cc motorcycle engine so it’ll be revving to the high heavens. -PPIHC Announcer

The turbo car sounds good but the NA cars are loud, and you can hear those cars drive halfway up the mountain. -OP

Here’s John Mcinnes and the SIERRA RX3, no stranger at the hill climbs. PPIHC Announcer

Looks great, now let’s see it through the twisties. Look how flat it corners. Again almost a scandinavian flick to unstick the rear end and get the car going the wrong way. – PPIHC Announcer

To see him cross the line.. again it was just it was incredible. 11:38 for his first time! -OP

He might not tell you this, but he was in tears and by the time he parked the car. His eyes were swelled up.

Oh my gosh, you’re at the summit of Pikes Peak dude! Thanks for being a part of this man. -CP

“It’s special, it is special to be there in that moment.” -Cole Powelson

Aaron did the same thing, 100% business. -OP

He’s no rookie to Pike’s Peak -OP

Another SIERRA RX3 on the line. No stranger here, 2014, 15, 16 and 2019.

No wonder those SIERRA RX3’s are getting popular you can have a lot of fun in.

I suggest that’s all about momentum. -PPIHC Announcer

7th in open wheel 11:45 for Aaron in that SIERRA RX3

He crosses the finish line and as a team, it felt like we had won Pikes Peak -O.P. Anderson

Not only did we get our driver into the nine-minute club, we not only had three cars make it to the top, we had three cars make it in very respectable times. -OP

We were so stoked, everybody hit the goals that they were shooting for. That just doesn’t happen at Pikes Peak, it’s not a place that easily rewards people, but it was our year, it was our week. It was amazing to just sit up there and watch the other two cars roll up behind me, and I take a lot of pride in that. -CP

It hit all the feel goods. as a driver and as a car builder to be able to do that. Not many people can say that they’ve done that and all of it was done here with this existing team and I’m so proud of that on so many levels. I always knew that I could get a sub-10 in some level, and it’s a lot easier in a 1200 horsepower GTR than to say: “Hey we’re going to order some tubes and take this motorcycle engine and some wings and we’re going to glue it altogether and go run up a hill”. -CP

It was just kind of unreal, he was only 1.9 seconds off of the overall fastest time up the mountain.

It feels really good to get this for the team, it’s different. Things things will never be the same. -CP

Video: Judson Pryanovich Photography: Judson Pryanoivch, Larry Chen & Louis Yio