It is July. This means 2 things: The number of testicular injuries caused by fireworks is about to increase 4000%, and the inaugural Spectre 341 Challenge has just wrapped up. This event, put on by Spectre Performance, is held on a 5.2 mile road that has 22 turns, climbs over 1,200 feet, and you have to provide proof that your balls are the size of softballs. It is one of the scariest ways to test your driving prowess in the US. You do not enter it to find out if you like auto racing. That would be like joining the Marines to find out if you like the outdoors.
The participating field of the spectacular was hardly made up of wooden go karts with pedal power. GTRs, Porsches, Vipers, old Camaros and high-boost Evos all showed up to take on the mountain. Extra points go to the driver a 1950s DeSoto Pikes Peak car; the first documented case of someone creating something both quaint and badass. Steve Millen-not exactly a “novice”- was there in his Nissan GTR, in full Targa Rally prep. He ran the course in 3:22.926, snagging 2nd place. As fast as his purpose-built GTR was, it couldn’t catch Lou Gigliotti piloting the 750 hp LG Motorsports Corvette ZR1. He crossed the line in 3:21.747, and even had time to videotape it for us to scream along with…
I used to think WRC was crazy, but that might as well be paddle-boat racing compared to booting a 750hp ZR1 up a desert mountain. Seriously…softballs. The fastest time of the weekend was actually done by a Viper ACR, but because its tires didn’t meet the minimum wera pattern, it fell under “Exhibition Class.” Over the weekend 6 drivers were good, privileged and crazy enough to gain entry into the “3:41 Club”, including auto journalist blackbelt Ezra Dyer, driving a 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo. What else would you expect from a guy that took an R8 grocery shopping in the snow?
As fast and fun as the weekend was, it was not without incident. Driver Alexander Djordjevic was driving his highly modified Porsche 996 Turbo when he went off an un-protected turn, plunging several hundred feet down the mountain. Despite the emergency response team’s best efforts, he died at the scene. Alexander was well known in the car enthusiast circle. Calling himself “VRAlexander” he became somewhat of a legend by uploading videos of him and his supercars. Not one to just buff them with a diaper, he spent his time enjoying his cars to their absolute fullest, and took us with him. His CGT was modified by Evolution Motorsports, and set a record in The Texas Mile. His 996 won the SPEED Channel Supercar Showdown. He got to live an automotive dream, and although he died, he was doing what he loved most. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
So a ZR1 ran it in 3:21, and an ACR on race tires ran a 3:19, it’ll be years before anyone beats these cars right? Actually, all you have to do is go back in time to 2002 when the last 3:41 Speed Challenge was held. The video has highlights from the event, as well as a ride-a-long with Amir Rosenbaum in his record-setting modified Ferrari F40. He ran the course in an equally baffling and frightening 3 minutes and 10 seconds. 8 years later and the closest anyone got was a Viper ACR running race tires, and it was a snail’s pace of 9 seconds behind.
If you’re interested in signing up for the 2011 Spectre Challenge, start prepping your car, brain, skills, and buying Depends, now. The gauntlet was thrown down almost a decade ago, and even with the incredible progress the automobile has made since then, it wasn’t enough to break that record. But if the high-speed game of “king of the hill” that has been ongoing at the ‘Ring is any indication, the competition for King of the Spectre 341 Challenge is just warming up.
Source: Spectre Performance
Photo Credit: Spectre 341 Challenge