Congratulations to all involved in a great event at the Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb Series in Robbinsville, NC! Our dragon slaying drivers came to take on the mountain from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and the Carolinas. The weather held up long enough for a beautiful day of competition Saturday but on Sunday, the rain moved in. Thanks to all our staff who worked hard to set up, run the event (even in rain and fog Sunday morning) and take it down. Once again, we all enjoyed the wonderful hospitality from Graham County, the City of Robbinsville, merchants, lodgers and residents! It is such a pleasure coming to a community that appreciates us and we continually hear individual stories of relationships growing with locals and our event staff and drivers. Special thanks to Tabitha Myler, director of Graham County Tourism, Darryl and Lori Cannon of www.killboy.com, Greg McCoy of The Hub, Juanita Colvard and the Graham County Transit Authority, Larry Hembree and the Graham County EMS and Sheriff Mickey Thompson for providing us night security on the mountain. Thanks to you and to all the spectators who come to watch our event each year!
Our Friday registration was held at a new location this year. The HUB in downtown Robbinsville turned out to be a perfect spot for registration under a covered shelter with great food and coffee specialties from the cafe there. Nancy Peck and Cyndi Duckworth handled worker signups while Sue Seiler and Vicki Eckerich handled driver registration. Mark Seiler handled tech and was assisted by a local resident, Steven Myler. This was the smoothest registration we have ever had at a Dragon Hillclimb! Thanks to all of you for your part! We received many compliments on flow and location.
Saturday morning, worker meetings and drivers meetings were held EXACTLY on schedule. Don Drennon handled the Worker meeting at top of the hill while Ted Theodore handled the Driver meeting at the launch area. Mark Seiler covered safety areas and David McDaniel explained run group order. We sent all first time and novice drivers up the hill for a slow recon run with an experienced mentor. (This has proven to be helpful in conveying good info and main danger areas to newcomers to this hill.) The Course went hot at 8:57 AM … three minutes before the schedule. Great job to all staff who pulled timing and communications to make that happen. Also a special thanks to Cyndi Duckworth, Nancy Peck and Rich Little in Timing and Scoring and Michele Eversoll for a GREAT job on Control at her first hillclimb.
Run groups continued through the day, with a few interruptions on timing. John Willes, Robert Mayes, Lance and Lane Russell, Ron Wilcox, Thomas Mitchell and crew did a GREAT job running grid and start all day. The timing issues were not system problems but battery problems, though they still required some time to diagnose and repair. Spectator crowds were good all day and the Funnel Cakes at Spectator #2 were a BIG hit! We had a lot of drivers giving autographs and putting kids in cars for pictures. Travel and Tourism took surveys from spectators to better help us how to grow this event and work with Graham County for successful future events. Groups ran smoothly and driver times continued to improve. There were regular reports of Sasquatch sightings on course but none were confirmed. The bigger battles in several classes were really fun to watch. Heikki Rinta Koski, our returning King of the Hill, was having some technical issues with his Locost 7 that were slowing his runs. Cameron “Boo” Lane, in the beautiful Datsun 240Z, jumped on the opportunity and was leading overall most of the day. His work over the winter was obvious as his runs continued to get quicker and quicker. Steve Eckerich debuted his new RED Mazda RX7. It is an amazing car and with Steve at the wheel, it placed 3rd overall for the weekend. Another set of tires and a few more runs, and you can expect that this Fall, he will be a force to be reckoned with in SPO class. TJ Theodore (past CSP winner) and Rajat Aggarwal were having a great Miata duel and it looked like it could go either way. Scott Cotten and Mike Tablas also were in the hunt for a CSP win. E Street Prepared had quite a match up – Brian Gause in his Z28 Camaro against PHA’s TM and Dennis Williams in their silver Mercedes C43 AMG. Three other highly noteworthy entrant performance:
Rich Burgess – This was Rich’s first hillclimb in his Mini Cooper S and he finished 4th OVERALL! That is an amazing achievement. Congrats for a fine performance.
Robert Gomer – Also his first hillclimb in his GT1 monster Camaro. That car was shaking the earth as it went by and the fans LOVED it. 5th place OVERALL.
Todd Reid – Todd was driving the EVSR electric race car along with Charlie Greenhaus, Project Manager and Chief Engineer for Team Entropy. The car was amazing to watch, quiet but with enormous torque. The car ran flawlessly and required little in the way of maintenance or charging for the full day. Congrats to Todd and his Team for a successful debut of the car on its FIRST hillclimb and the 8th OVERALL and First in Class finish! They also took “King of the Puddle” honors with fastest run on Sunday in the rain and fog. Safe, dependable and environmentally friendly is all good… but they were FAST as well! Bravo! More info at www.EVSR.net
Day 1 wrapped up around 5:15 PM as our particpants stayed late to squeeze in a few more runs in the dry; weather forecasts did not look good for Sunday. We did have a couple of incidents in the last run group of the day : Marvin Fordham and Rajat Aggarwal each made light contact with the guard rail and a rock. While both cars were done for the weekend, neither driver was hurt. The Dragon bites but he did not get much of a meal from our knights this year. The drivers and staff closed up the hill and met up at Huddle House for steak dinners and HAT NIGHT! This is a tradition we will be continuing and the grand prize winner was Sheila Cockrell! Dinner and fellowship is a BIG part of this event and we had a great evening! Thanks to Huddle House for a great place to meet, eat steaks and have fun.
Sunday, we woke up to cold rain. It was foggy on the hill but our workers took their positions and prepared for a hot course. Hillclimb officials met with drivers and agreed that while we usually DO run in the rain, this rain was not blowing over and we did not want to put our corner workers in the elements for a long time when no drivers would be improving their times. Two groups ran in the fog and rain as a thanks to workers and made some awesome videos. We brought our workers off the hill and got everyone together for trophies. Heikki Rinta-Koski was able to pull out the win on his next to LAST run of the day Saturday to take his 4th King of the Hill Dragonslayer sword …only 2/10ths of a second faster than Cameron Lane! Vicki Eckerich took her 4th Sword as fastest Lady of the Hill! Congratulations to all our participants and workers for a wonderful weekend of motor sports, fellowship and fun. The weekend was closed with a special presentation of the Susan Coleman Award… a new service award given by Steve & Vicki Eckerich. Alan Coleman was on hand to help present this year’s award to – Mr. Don Drennon! We greatly appreciate the job that Don has done leading our troops on the mountain and helping maintain a safe course and a well managed event. Thanks to SCCA and Central Carolina Region for putting on a wonderful weekend in spite of the weather. BIG Thanks to Robert and Melissa McManus for hauling the truck to and from the event and working all weekend so others could run… and thanks to Steve and Vicki Eckerich, Jessica Hunter, Steven Haupt and the Weaverville, NC gang that did so much work setting up and taking down in the wet and cold. YOU GUYS are awesome! We look forward to continuing this great Hillclimb Series with Dragon VII September 13 & 14 in Robbinsville. Stay tuned… to www.dragonhillclimb.com and www.sedivtt.com for more great Southeast Division Time Trial Events. Hope to see you at the TGPR Time Trial, April 12& 13 in Munford, Alabama.