Featured around the world, Scion Racing has become more than a household name over the past 8 years in multiple segments of racing—from drifting and rally racing to full blown time attack and road race events. Yet rarely has there been an opportunity to document the team as a whole, until four drivers from entirely different backgrounds united to compete in the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a little curious how I would go about the assignment as I had no idea of what kind of unity the diverse team actually had. Though the more time I spent around the group, the clearer it became that this trip was none other than a family affair.
Most of you are probably like me, having never spent a weekend (or any time, really) with a race team—this was a new experience. Honestly, the only way for me to describe the atmosphere would be to transform the analogy of your younger years hanging with friends, drinking beers and tweaking on cars in the garage, and take it to an entirely new level. The “friends” consisted of engineers, race drivers, PR managers and media personnel, the “beer” was the local Walmart’s finest and the single garage was actually a 3-car venue tucked inside a 3-story mansion with the industry’s finest parts lined from wall to wall for the team’s disposal. Though the presence was nothing short of awe-inspiring, I quickly drank a beer (or five), went through a few introductions and went on my way to prepare for the unexpected days ahead.
The following morning started with a 2 a.m. wake up call in effort to be on top of the mountain by 3 a.m. for the final day of practice. Now, originating from the South, altitude was definitely an unfamiliar factor for me, and once atop the freezing peak at 14,100 feet, the effects were definitely setting in—not only for my organs, but for the team’s vehicles as well. The thing about such a high altitude is that the air is extremely thin and the oxygen is significantly less available, inevitably forcing the team to be consistently tuning the cars as overheating quickly became an issue throughout the last leg, especially for the Evasive FR-S. Though after a solid six hours of tuning and practice runs, the team successfully dialed in the last leg of the peak and packed up for the next day of preparation.
Though I had arrived to Colorado Springs on the last day of practice, the team had actually been on the harsh 2 a.m. schedule for about a week straight, tirelessly working behind the scenes. Luckily, I made it just in time for the team’s first real day off where some solid R&R was in order. With the cars prepped and ready in the pit areas, the garage was cleared and filled with a massive table of BBQ and the ping-pong tourneys were on. Aside from the first day of meet and greets, this was actually the first time that the team’s unity had fully blasted me in the face. As an enthusiast, I cannot describe how incredible it was to sit at a table with drifter, Ken Gushi and rally racer, ACP as they exhaustedly discussed their personal opinions on the race, their techniques on memorizing the long 156 turn track and quietly shared their fears on the race to the clouds. With a smile from ear to ear, I was in my glory, and was blown away by how two entirely different drivers could communicate on such a personal level solely through the unity of Scion Racing. What a family this truly is.
With all squirrely bonding details aside (you already know how we do) the group responsibly ended the evening and set their alarms for another 2 a.m. morning in preparation for the official race day. The cold morning was quiet and serious as rumors of gnarly weather rolling in definitely threatened the safety of all competitors. In order to make sure the drivers would successfully reach the peak, the team jumped back into work mode and began tweaking and tuning in complete unison as every individually had their part—not for the fact of trying to accomplish a great record at the event, but to make sure the entire family was safe. The love and concern was apparent, just as it would be in any other family. And through the rain, wind, hail and snow, each driver under Scion Racing successfully reached the top without fail. The event was complete, and finally, the entire group could rest in peace.
Though I’m sure my position will continue to lead me on many adventures in the future, I will forever remember my first time at the Peak. Not because of the race, because let’s be real—it was cold, I got hailed on throughout the entirety of my 4-mile hike, my sleep schedule was officially F’d and I was exhausted, but for the fact that with only spending a mere 4 days around team Scion Racing, I now feel I am apart of something greater—a family. And that feeling will never change.
Keeping it in the family, drifter Ken Gushi competed in a slightly modified Lexus IS-F for the Exhibition class. The 91st Hill Climb event marks Ken’s third attempt at successfully finishing the race with a notable time. Yet due to weather conditions, Ken was forced to wait for hours on end until he could finally take a stab at the mountain. With anticipation running high and nerves on end, Ken pulled the rabbit out of the bag and finished 1st in the Exhibition class with a 12.03.
Whipping the Evasive FR-S up Pikes Peak for the very first time is disciplined time attack driver Rob Walker. Originally entering in the time attack class, the officials at Pikes transferred the car into the unlimited category upon entry due to the amount of vertical aero the car featured. Though the aero is actually functional, it is by no means “tunnel-tested” as many of the other vehicles in the unlimited class are—ultimately setting him behind the ball in the fact of class competition. Rob also experienced many overheating issues through the high altitude, but by working with the team to selectively use first gear, the car performed great throughout the final race allowing Rob to walk away with a 10.59, finishing 9th.
Though a third-year veteran to the event, ACP competed in his 265hp rally-spec xD for the very first time in an effort to conquer the mountain under Scion Racing. Facing altitude temps just as everyone else, the xD was equipped with a homemade water sprayer to keep the engine cool—allowing the FWD underdog to tackle the track in 12.39 seconds finishing 8th in his class, and most importantly, reaching the top without any issues under the harsh weather conditions.