There is one racing event that takes place in June every year with cars equipped with massive amounts of power and professional racing drivers. We are talking about the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It gathers the most media attention of any hill climb race, but it’s not the only one west of the Mississippi.
Run for more than three decades, the Virginia City Hill Climb, which is not anywhere close to Virginia, is a dangerous 5.2-mile hill climb race that starts in Silver City, Nevada, and takes drivers along Highway 341 North into Virginia City.
During the race, the route is closed with the assistance of local law enforcement to avoid any accidents with locals or trucks.
The route consists of more than twenty turns and multiple long straightaways and is basically in the desert. The route takes drivers on a 1,200-foot change in elevation and is usually missing guardrails on the outside of high-speed turns. There is gravel on the shoulder, blind corners, and narrow passages. This is a true adrenaline rush from the word go.
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Still, despite the risk, true hardcore driving fans with some amazing machines brave the conditions to try and beat the set time. It wasn’t uncommon this year to see Corvettes , Ferraris and even a few highly tuned performance cars. Even RUF , a Porsche tuner, has had a few cars in the event in years past. Those who want to find the limit of their cars and themselves will be right at home.
Yet, to this day, Ferrari holds the record with a truly amazing time. Amir Rosenbaum, founder of parts manufacturer Spectre Performance, ran a 3:10 run in his tuned Ferrari F40 .
He must have really loved that place, because Rosenbaum and Spectre Performance decided to hold the first Speed by Spectre 341 Challenge Event. This was an invitation only event, so you couldn’t just turn up in your Volkswagen GTI; you had to be special.
"We are always looking for ways to go faster, to prove our parts at maximum velocity," says Spectre Performance founder Amir Rosenbaum. "We autocross and road race our muscle cars and set a 330mph Land Speed Record at Bonneville last year; but to this day one of the most challenging and exhilarating events I’ve ever participated in was the Virginia City Hill Climb. The Speed by Spectre 341 Challenge will bring that excitement back, but with the addition of muscle, exotic and import cars competing against each other it will be an incredible weekend. We are also very lucky to have FM3 Marketing onboard to ensure everything runs smoothly."
The event is similar to the Virginia Hill Climb, as the course is identical, just with a few different regulations. Racing cars were banned, as only street legal cars were allowed on the road.
Despite this being a pretty low-key event, some of the biggest names showed up, including Griggs Racing, Lou Gigliotti and Steve Millen. Those last two arrived in a tuned Corvette ZR1 and a Targa Newfoundland Nissan GT-R . Pretty special cars, but you don’t need that sort of performance machine in order to have fun.
The field was pretty spread out, with cars from all over the globe. There were Porsche 911s , stock-looking Mitsubishi Evolutions , and a few classic Camaros . There was even a pickup truck; a GMC Syclone.
Sadly, the race was overshadowed by the death of Alexander Djordjevic, who was competing in a Porsche 911 Turbo . On the second day of the race, he took his silver 996 out for a final lap up the hill, but he never made it back down. His Porsche slid down the hill, resulting in a fatal accident.
Djordjevic told KTVN-TV of Reno before the race that it was a “challenge to yourself and your street car to do well.”
Gigliotti, a racer who has driven in World Challenge and ALMS, took the top spot after two days on the hill. He topped his Corvette ZR1 at 143 miles per hour with a time of 3:21.747. Steve Millen came in second in his GT-R with a time of 3:22.926 and in third was local boy Jeremy Kappus in a Lancer Evolution with a time of 3:25.579.
After two days on the hill it was clear that nobody was going to come close to taking the record of 3:10. Perhaps there is a reason Rosenbaum banned racing cars.
Top Five Finishers
1) Lou Gigliotti - 3:21.747
2) Steve Millen - 3:22.926
3) Jeremy Kappus - 3:25.579
4) Guy Cunningham - 3:28.423
5) Ezra Dyer - 3:33.419