Everything was soggy.
The paddock was full of mud by mid-morning, and the Mt. Washington Auto Road gleamed with water (sometimes a thin film and sometimes running in streams).
Even so, the hillclimbers practiced, taking two runs on the lower half of the road before lunch. From my point of view at the spectator point near the start line, the first ascent was made in a mist-like rain, and the second in showers.
The variety of vehicles is heartening. Besides Subaru, there are a number of other manufacturers, plus special-built racecars. There's an old NASCAR car and a couple open-wheel competitors, plus sports cars from the last few decades.
For having attended hundreds of racing events through the years, this is my first hillclimb. From my vantage point, I could see the vehicles shortly after they left the start line, then negotiate one of the first turns on the mountain. Past where I was standing, the competitors had slight curves to handle before disappearing into the forest. So in some ways, a hillclimb is like a rally or a road course, but without a track's lap-by-lap repetition.
Competitors took off from the start line as if in a drag race to the finish line, running one at a time. But instead of a straight line at full speed, they negotiate the road's twists and turns. As described in an earlier Journal entry, the road is never very wide. Besides the turns, there are rough patches in the pavement and newly poured blacktop. The road is often off-camber, and the edges drop off sharply.
And the hillclimbers had to handle all of it while rain fell. As quickly as the vehicles left the start line, they showed their power even more in their acceleration up the hill.
Find results for each of the practice days here, on the Climb to the Clouds website. Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins led the field by nearly 20 seconds. Explore more of the event site for news reports on the weekend's events.
-- Ric Hawthorne