It is one of the oldest organized motorsports events around: Hillclimb. The premise is extremely simple: one car, one windy road, fastest time to the top wins. The two things that get one car to the top faster than the others: horsepower and guts. The extreme elevation change requires lots of horsepower while the trees, rocks, and cliffs you narrowly miss as you race up the mountain require lots of bravery and guts. It also helps to be a bit delusional. Just keep telling yourself, “I won’t be the one who totals my car while falling down the mountain.”
Photos by Saroja Raman
So you finally got yourself a little hot rod in your driveway and you have been telling everyone who will listen to you in any random Starbucks parking lot that your car is fast. You quote the zero-to-sixty times from statistics which you memorized from the internet and just like Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon, you’ve “made a few modifications” yourself to improve the car’s performance. You know deep down in your hot rodder heart that if you were given the opportunity to compete with your machine of speed you would crush all of the other fools on your favorite car forum. The Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car is just the place for a guy like you with a fast street car to show those bench racing keyboard jockeys that your car is truly legit!
It finally happened. You got old. Which means you finally have a few bucks in your pocket. Obvious next step: Corvette, duh. Why not? The cars are fast, sexy, and hands down the best performance bang for your buck dollar for dollar. Now that you have the Vette, it’s time to race that baby. Hello Corvette Challenge, the time trial series for Corvettes only, brought to you by guys at Speed Ventures.
The BBC has a new car show to air right after Top Gear on BBC America on Monday nights (we are talking about the real Top Gear -the British Top Gear on BBC, as opposed to the junior varsity Top Gear U.S.A. on the History Channel). Sticking with the whole “gear” title theme, the new show is titled Mud, Sweat and Gears and features hosts Jonny Smith and Tom “Wookie” Ford who were hosts on BBC’s Fifth Gear. Yes, I know, that is a lot of gears.
But it is a good thing because this new car show is for true gear heads. The premise of the show is that each week Jonny and Wookie will pick a different car, and then their respective two person teams (different contestants each week) will have 24 hours to modify their cars and then compete in three races/stunts/automotive shenanigans. The loser’s team will have to watch as their car is destroyed at the end of the show SPECTACULARLY!
The cars chosen by the hosts each week need work, lots of work, in order to be able to compete in the three challenges. Each challenge usually causes a fair amount of collateral damage to the involved cars (and sometimes the drivers too) and the team needs to quickly get the car back in working order for the next event. And inevitably the next event involves FIRE!
For the premiere episode I, and my endurance racing partner, Keith Kramer, were selected to be on Wookie’s team. As the writer of the Racerboy column here on Speed:Sport:Life the producers knew some of the different types of racing I had been involved in and saw some of Krider Racing’s car builds.
Producers of Mud, Sweat and Gears saw Keith and I in action in the documentary film Double Down (available on Amazon) where they earned a podium finish at NASA’s mighty 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The producers instantly asked us to be a part of the new show. We accepted and headed to Hollywood to thrash on a car we didn’t have to pay for. The end result was Episode 1: Cops.
Unbeknownst to us, our team mentor, Wookie (in red), had chosen a beater 1977 Pontiac Firebird for us to quickly turn into a police car. We chose to change our Smokey in the Bandit special into a Mad Max Police Interceptor themed car. In the end the Firebird looked like what would have happened if Mel Gibson had butt sex with Burt Reynolds. Or maybe it should be the other way around? Someone needs to ask Burt who is the bottom.
The car needed to be fast, it needed to be nimble and it needed to be tough. We built an exoskeleton cage for the car to make it tough and did some engine mods to make it fast. As far as making a 1977 Pontiac Firebird nimble, that would be a bit of a stretch of the imagination -more like, an impossibility. What couldn’t be resolved with mods, would have to be resolved with ludicrous fingers crossed driving.
Jonny’s team had a Jaguar, pronounced “Jag-eeew-rar” by the British hosts. The car was a nineties vintage with a fair amount of technological advances in comparison to the old Pontiac. However, the car was British so… that sort of evened things out. Jonny’s team was comprised of two siblings from Detriot, the Perkins brothers, who were SCCA road racers. So Episode 1 would be an asphalt slug fest through downtown Los Angeles, between NASA road racers from California and SCCA road racers from Detroit, driving cars disguised as police cruisers. What else could you want in a car show?
The best news for the show is it was filmed by the Top Gear crew, which gives it that awesome cinematic feel that Top Gear does so well. The other cool part about the show is the people who make it like to crash stuff. The driving in the show is legit and all of the stunts are performed by the contestants and the hosts themselves. This combination equals carnage. Which is why people will tune in every week to check Mud, Sweat and Gears out.
The landscape for Episode 1 will look very familiar to gear heads as it is the exact same location Ken Block’s latest video (Gymkhana 7) was shot at including the 6th Street Bridge and awesome moments in the L.A. River (a la scenes from car movies like Grease and The Gumball Rally).
Jalopnik scored some exclusive footage of the show revealing me drifting the 1977 Pontiac Firebird as I’m being chased down by the Jaguar through downtown Los Angeles. The footage is epic. Click HERE to read the Jalopnik story and watch the video. Tune in Monday night on BBC after Top Gear for the first episode of Mud, Sweat and Gears.
For Krider Racing, the 2012 running of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill started with rum and ended with rum. It took a fair amount of rum to garner the courage to take on such a monumental task like “The 25.” This is the story of how a group of friends came together to compete with factory backed professional race teams in the longest road race in North America, while campaigning a $500 car that was originally built for the 24 Hours of LeMons, and somehow walked away victorious. This is the Krider Racing 25 Hours of Thunderhill “Rum Diary”
The 25: Speed Rain Darkness Damage Glory
GoRacingTV.com’s Documentary of NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill
Krider Racing, a team that drove its way to success in crap-can racing with both the 24 Hours of LeMons and ChumpCar $500 racecar events, graduated to National Auto Sport Association (NASA) races and competed in the Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC). The team applied their tried-and-true formula from racing beaters and went on to earn the 2010 E3 Championship title in the WERC series. Cameras followed the team to NASA’s headline-year-ending event, the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. With narration by “RacerBoy” Rob Krider and production from GoRacingTV.com this gritty documentary came to life about what it was like to “Survive the 25.”
Admittedly, most of the coverage I produced was self-centered, egotistical and extremely self congratulatory (a lot like this very post). However, that sort of accidentally happened. The original idea was to bring coverage of amateur motorsports events to Jalopnik. The plan was for it to be real, in-depth coverage, where the rubber actually meets the road. To do this my friends and I would run anything anywhere, see where we finished and I would chronicle our adventures on the site for like minded gearheads to enjoy. That meant being at the tracks and actually competing in the events. Unfortunately, sometimes it meant beating up my friends’ cars (sorry about that guys) because I didn’t own the right type of vehicle for a certain race. One particular borrowed ride was an Infiniti FX 45 that we used at a Rallycross, which, rumor has it, will never be the same. Good thing it was a lease.
Some of the “live” coverage of these events I tried to do wasn’t very “live” at all. This was due to the fact that I bit off a little more than I could chew. With towing cars to race tracks, organizing the crew, setting up the car, learning a new track, attending drivers’ meetings, fixing crash damage, and most importantly, drinking beer, I often didn’t have the few moments I needed to sit behind my computer, highjack some wifi, find a picture that wasn’t completely blurry and quickly put up a post on Jalopnik. Trying to put up the stories quickly resulted in grammatical errors and sometimes stories with major details missing. Most of the time, I just didn’t have enough time. Winning the race was the priority. The blogging would have to wait.
Eventually the race would be over, and if everything went right for my team, we won. Trophies were handed out and victory beers were consumed. After the celebration (and inebriation) I would sit down in the motor home, totally stoked on our recent accomplishment and try to think of something to put up as a post. Feeling good in the moment, inevitably those stories said something like, “Krider Racing is the shiznit!”
After a year of this, many checkered flags were waved, tons of tires were destroyed, and over half a million hits were accounted for on Jalopnik. Those half a million hits included nearly 5,000 comments, with 10 percent of those containing narratives of people calling me a “self-centered, big headed, douche bag.” A comment I can’t really argue with. So, to keep the ball rolling, and so as not to disappoint, here are the Top 10 Things I Accomplished While Contributing to Jalopnik. Get those particular keys on your keyboard ready for the comments section: D-O-U-C-H-E-B-A-G!
10. Took a Volkswagen Bug and ran it flat out in the Beetleball Endurance Rally Series from The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, across the desert, touched Arizona, over the Hoover Dam and onto the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.
The Beetleball would be one of those totally illegal open road races if a VW could actually go fast enough to break the law. Using an air card, I actually covered the rally live while we were racing in the event. My brother still hasn’t forgiven me, because we missed a freeway exit on the route while I was busy trying to get this photo (below) instead of reading the route instructions. “Dammit! Stop blogging for Jalopnik and pay attention!” Even with my poor navigation skills, we somehow won our class anyway. Most importantly, we had an awesome time hanging out with a great group of VW fanatics.
9. Won Episode One of the show The Forum Wars and set the fastest overall time for the entire first season of the show.
The show was set up to put internet forum nerds on a track and see if anything these guys typed on the keyboard could be backed up by their right foot (spoiler alert –in most cases it wasn’t). The idea was to take two cars (comparatively modified) and two fanboys and have them run head to head in a drag race and a road course shootout. The results of the rivalries were supposed to silence the outrageous performance and driving claims of the losing side. Instead, the feuds actually just started a barn fire of excuses and accusations. Namely one being the fact that I borrowed Steve Kuhtz’s Mustang and ran D.O.T. Hoosier autocross tires, thus giving me quite the unfair advantage -which it absolutely did. The rules for the event said any D.O.T. tire. I chose Hoosier autocross tires while the 350Z I ran against in Episode 1 chose Toyo road race tires. A bunch of other competitors chose stock Goodyears (wrong choice). The rest is history.
Event Link: The Forum Wars Presented by Royal Purple
Result: Won Episode One. I set the fastest road course time, set the fastest drag race reaction time, and had the fastest overall combined time for the entire first season in a nearly stock Mustang against heavily modified Porsches, GT-Rs and Vipers.
Coverage Link(s): GT-R, Viper, GTI? Who Wins Season 1 Of The Forum Wars?
8. Took a rental car to Sacramento Raceway for some Wednesday night E.T. Bracket Drag Racing and won the event.
I was in Sacramento on a business trip and I knew they had a local drag strip somewhere outside of town. I picked up a rental car at the airport and headed to the track thinking I could get a few cool pictures for a possible future post on Jalopnik. Since I was there anyway I figured I’d enter the race. Why not? It wasn’t my car. I won my first round and ended up moving through the brackets race after race. Next thing I knew I was in the final and won the Street Machine class. I came home from my business trip with a trophy. My wife asked, “How the hell did you do that? You didn’t even have a car with you?”
“Honey, I’ve told you time and time again, Krider Racing is the shiznit!”
Event Link: Sacramento Raceway
Result: Won the Street Machine 1 Class and put zero miles on my own car doing it.
Coverage Link(s): Running A Rental Car At The NHRA Street Legal Drags
7. Set the fastest time during the Targa Trophy Bay Area Rallyfest against Ferraris and Lamborghinis in a borrowed press fleet 2011 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500.
The idea of the rally was to run a bunch of high end cars along a scenic route and end up back at a fancy hotel for an epic after party. During the event accrued mileage and average times would be used to score the cars to determine an overall winner based on an unknown target time and unknown target mileage. It all sounded a bit confusing, although mostly reasonable during the drivers’ meeting. Everything was looking good/legal/safe until I bumped into an extremely well to do Lamborghini owner who told me, “I don’t give a crap about the mileage and the time; I’m going to be the first one to the finish.” I don’t know why, but at that moment I decided he couldn’t be the first one to the finish line in his Italian supercar, because I was going to already be there in a stock American made Mustang. Six hours later, a few traffic laws shattered and way before the actual target time, the Lamborghini sped into the hotel parking lot in San Francisco searching for glory. My brother and I were already at the bar celebrating our victory over the Lambo and thus, coincidentally, our Targa Trophy loss.
In the coverage on Jalopnik I foolishly made a smartass comment about some of the “hippie bicyclists” we sped by on some of the mountain roads along the route. In doing so, I angered an enormous contingent of militant “share the road” bicyclists that comment on this site. Sorry about that boys, just trying to be funny. Bikes are cool too. I just think they would be cooler if they had four wheels instead of two and an engine, but, hey, that’s just my opinion.
Event Link: Targa Trophy
Result: Set the fastest time and thus earned the Bonehead Award from the Targa Trophy staff.
Coverage Link(s): Lambos And Ferraris Let Loose On California Roads: Welcome To Targa Trophy, Photography Of Targa Trophy, Bent Ferrari Suspension, Vomit, Tickets From The Man: Targa Trophy Results
6. Was named “Hoon of the Day” by the editors of Hooniverse for a video of me drifting a 2001 Bullitt Mustang at an SCCA National Tour solo event.
I get a lot of questions about the video of the Bullitt Mustang “drifting” around the autocross course. “Isn’t stick faster than grip?” “Why would you drift at an autocross event?” “You’re not a REAL drifter!” The actual reason behind the Bullitt sliding all over the course isn’t all that sexy. The fact was, by the last run of the day, I had completely corded the left rear tire. I didn’t have a backup tire and there was no time to get one. I needed to put one more fast lap down without hitting any cones in order to win the event. I crossed my fingers, hoping the tire would hold together, and headed out on course. I kept my right foot planted to the floor and did my best to squeeze the Mustang between the narrow orange cones while dealing with nearly zero grip at the left rear corner. Somehow (luck mostly) I was able to avoid every cone on course (barely) and win the event. The following video was the result.
Event Link: SCCA National Tour
Result: Won the Sports Car Club of America Solo National Tour at Atwater (F-Stock). Named “Hoon of the Day” on Hooniverse.
Coverage Link(s): Hooniverse: Whip It! Whip It Good
5. Got to be a guest judge at the 24 Hours of LeMons.
My team won the 24 Hours of LeMons race at Altamont. In doing so, I set the fastest lap of the race, thus getting the attention of Jay Lamm, the head perpetrator of the event (it wasn’t the type of attention you want at LeMons). At the next LeMons event my team entered we were slapped with a 1,500 lap penalty for
racing at LeMons I mean cheating. Our car had some parts that may or may not have added up to $500 or was it $5,000? I don’t remember, who’s counting? Oh, that’s right, Jay Lamm is counting. For the next event Murilee Martin invited me to be a guest judge and help catch all the rest of the cheaters. This was a lot of fun. The best part was hanging out with Jalopnik writers Murilee Martin (now at The Truth About Cars) and Jonny Lieberman (now at MotorTrend). Some fool let us blogger/judges (which included Autoblog editor Damon Lavrinc) cruise in this cool WWII Jeep complete with machine gun. Nobody gave us any lip.
Event Link: 24 Hours of LeMons
Result: Won the 24 Hours of LeMons Altamont. Earned a record breaking penalty for cheating (1,500 laps). Became a judge and caught all of the other cheaters, earning the title of “backstabbing sellout.”
Coverage Link(s): LeMons Winner and Cheating Expert To Bring You LeMons Action This Weekend, Krider Racing Wins The 24 Hours Of LeMons
4. Won the ChumpCar L.A. Freeway Enduro at California Speedway
It took five tries for our team to win a ChumpCar event. We had a second and a third at Infineon, eighth at the 24 hour event at Willow Springs (blown head gasket -excuses, excuses), and a second place on the first day of the California Speedway race. We were starting to think we were in some sort of second place rut. Finally, after never quitting, luck fell on our side and we got to sip the sweet taste of victory again. All of the ChumpCar races we ran were a blast and you really can’t beat the racing bang for your buck (and there will be some banging –look at the damage to our Big Sausage Pizza Delivery Machine).
Event Link: ChumpCar World Series
Result: First Place ChumpCar L.A. Freeway Enduro (Sunday) at California Speedway
Coverage Link(s): Krider Racing Wins ChumpCar, Tony Stewart Races ChumpCar –No Really He Did!, Cars of ChumpCar
3. Won the 2010 E3 Western Endurance Racing Championship and “Survived The 25” while covering the series for the National Auto Sport Association (NASA).
I teamed up with Keith Kramer and ran the entire 2010 season of NASA’s Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC). The racing in this series was incredibly competitive. I learned a ton about night racing, fast driver swaps and strategic pit stops. The multi-class, long race formats of the WERC series were physically demanding and mentally tiresome. Most notably was the year end finale at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the world’s longest closed course road race. While competing against pro factory efforts from Honda and Mazda we were hit by faster class cars twice and had to do major repairs to our car in order to finish the event. Even with all of that drama during The 25, we still won the 2010 Championship. It was the hardest race I had ever entered. Looking back on it, I realize now it was the greatest race I have ever been a part of.
Event Link: National Auto Sport Association (NASA)
Result: Won the 2010 E3 Class Western Endurance Racing Championship
Coverage Link(s): Series Introduction, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Season Ending Points Battle, 25 Hours of Thunderhill, 2010 WERC Champions, Nissan Team Diary at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill
2. Took a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba (yes, complete with Corinthian leather) and destroyed it in a demolition derby, winning a heat at the California State Championships.
I had been watching demolition/destruction/crash-up derbys at the local fairgrounds since I was in diapers riding a big wheel up and down my street. No matter how many races we did, I kept telling my friends, “We haven’t done squat until we’ve done a demolition derby!” We picked up a ’76 Cordoba (the two-door sportscar of destruction derby) busted the windows out of it and welded on it for weeks. We towed it up to the State Championships (yes, they actually do have a state championship for bashing cars into each other). I drove the car like my body wasn’t in it (my neck has never been the same since) and when the horn blew we won our heat and ended the life of a gas guzzling Chrysler.
Event Link: Dutch Holland Racing Promotions
Result: Won a heat at the California State Demolition Derby Championships
Coverage Link(s): In Cordoba I Have What I Need Soft Corinthian Leather And Destruction
1. Got to race all over the place and do it all with my family and friends.
It didn’t matter if it was running a course marker/gimmick rally with my dad and my thirteen year old son (Green Rally Challenge: Corvette Vs. Fusion Hybrid), or racing go-karts with my pals (Beer, Girls and Go-Karts in Vegas) or full blown road racing (Can’t Drive? You’re On The Pit Crew), I couldn’t have done any of it without my family and friends.
Racing at any level is a team sport. The grassroots success that Krider Racing has accomplished had nothing to do with fearless driving, because it was accomplished solely by the hard work and commitment of my friends and family. And the best part is we have a blast doing it together (except for the times when we want to kill each other). Sometimes competition brings the extreme aggressive parts out of all of us, and from that, the stress level at races can get pretty high. But once it’s over, we call each other (sometimes it takes a week) and start plotting the next event we should take on. Collectively we always want to win, no matter what the event is, even if it is just tossing around go-karts at the local putt-putt mini-golf course.
Since my friends and I ended up running all sorts of different races, I decided to put together a series of informative “how-to” stories on different grassroots automotive shenanigans -the kind of events that anyone could get involved in if they had a few bucks, a car, and a crash helmet.
Below are links to the different topics (listed alphabetically) that we experienced and I covered in the Racer Boy blog at Speed:Sport:Life (from road racing to the pinewood derby and everything in-between).
24 Hours of LeMons
E.T. Bracket Drag Racing
Endurance Club Racing
Indoor Go-Kart Racing
NASA Performance Touring Road Racing
Slot Car Racing
Soap Box Derby
Each article has the Racer Boy gauge which gives details on how much it costs to run the event, how much time it takes, car wear, how dangerous the sport is, and the expected adrenaline level. Plus, each article has links to different sanctioning bodies to help find the event nearest you.
With 2010 coming to an end I want to thank all of the photographers that I came in contact with and stole images from for unpaid use on the site (the photographs were generally far better than the words I mistyped underneath them). I want to thank all of the event promoters for putting on these cool races that my friends and I had the opportunity to enjoy and play in. Thanks to Jalopnik for allowing me to be a complete egomaniac on the site. Thanks to my sponsors for continued support in helping us go fast and win. And thank you to all of the different people I’ve met and raced hard against at various tracks and venues. It’s been a great ride. Till next time, I’ll see you at the finish line.
Want to race door to door down the corkscrew at the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? Don’t have a racing license to pilot around your BMW E30 that you put the roll-cage in? Don’t worry baby, the Dawn 2 Dusk 500 Challenge is just the race for you. There are a ton of folks out there who love doing HPDE events and have really fine tuned their driving, but they haven’t had the opportunity to run in a real race event. Now there is a place for them to try it along with a few friends during two 3.5 hour enduros at Laguna Seca.
It took 5 tries but we finally got the job done. First place by six laps at the ChumpCar L.A. Freeway Enduro. The weekend was epic!
A huge thank you to the crew for winning the race for us: Nick Brown, Andy Bai, Jim Krider and Sara Krider. Great clean driving by the whole team: AJ Gracy, Randy Krider, Keith Kramer (and myself for once). Thank you to our sponsors Atomic Speedware, Carbotech Brake Pads, Capital City Motorsports, T.E.M. Machine Shop, I/O Port Racing Supplies, Figstone Graphics, ST Suspensions, Performance In-Frame Tuning, Piloti driving shoes, HP 234, Circuit Sports, Racing WFO, Car Domain, Bay Ex, Napa Valley Muffler, B&G Tires, Miracle Auto Body and Paint, Napa Valley Transmissions, Bottlers Unlimited, Economy Stock Feed, Kuhtz Diehl Insurance and Financial Services, and C.J. Fix Co.
Krider Racing has patched up the ole Big Sausage Pizza Delivery machine (again) and has wheeled it out to ChumpCar’s L.A. Freeway Enduro at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The race consists of two 7-hour enduros (one Saturday, one Sunday) with trophies and prize money for each day.
We will be doing live (sort of) coverage of the event on Jalopnik and Speed:Sport:Life as the weekend progresses. But for up to the minute updates on the team’s progress follow “kriderracing” on Twitter.