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Virginia City Hill Climb 341 Challenge - King Of The Mountain

Some Of The Baddest Production Cars In The Country Assaulted 22 Turns, A 1,200-Foot Elevation Change, And Sheer Drop-Offs To Claim The Title.

By , Photography by Spectre 341 Challenge,

The Griggs Mustang
Perhaps the most innocuous car at the 341 was the Griggs GR40 Mustang. Bruce Griggs brought his factory demo car to both challenge the mountain and show just how easily this Mustang can straighten the curves. After several shots up the mountain in our Chevelle, Bruce offered us a ride in this red pony. With son John behind the wheel, the first thing the younger Griggs said was "The engine's a little hot since we've been making laps, so this won't be as quick as it could be." That disclaimer wasn't necessary because his lap was easily 20 seconds quicker than my best effort. While it helps to have a Paxton-Novi supercharger to make that 450 rwhp, you also have to carry speed through the corners. To say that the GR40 has grip is like saying the Comstock mine was a profitable venture. The Griggs Mustang proved itself with Guy Cunningham behind the wheel with a Fourth Place finish-with a real street car-against machines that most would consider far stronger than a mere Mustang. It's obvious that Bruce Griggs is onto something here.

The 341
Race Director Jimi Day said it best: "This is a unique event-one like you have never run before." You start on cold tires, and unlike on a typical road course, more weight transfers to the rear tires because you are pointed uphill. This makes the car tend to understeer slightly-at least until the tires warm up. Amir mentioned the intangibles, like wild horses that occasionally saunter across the road without warning, or local residents who insist on driving down the highway despite the road closure. But it is exactly those situations that give this event its color. Like anything else, you have to experience the event to grasp the 341's appeal. But be careful-mountain fever is contagious.

The Blue Chevelle
The first thing I noticed after dumping the clutch and accelerating into the first turn was what a pooch my Chevelle had become. The thin air at 5,000 feet will do that to a normally aspirated engine. The consensus opinion is that if you want to go fast, you're gonna need a supercharger. But horsepower wasn't my only problem. With 22-plus turns, 341 takes several passes just to remember where the scary parts are. After my second lap, I noticed the voltmeter was showing just shy of 12 volts, which later I traced to a dead alternator. I'm not sure when it gave up, [first turn, died of fear -Glad] but it could easily have been on the first run up the mountain, meaning that my Optima battery was subjected to a long, continuous, 25-to-30-amp drain from the twin electric fans, fuel pump, fuel injection, and MSD 6AL ignition. It took until around 9 p.m. that night to drive to Summit Racing in Sparks, Nevada, to buy a Powermaster alternator and bolt it in for Saturday's runs. What did work exceptionally well was our new 275/35R18 KDW2 tires mounted on a set of 9.5x18-inch Center Line wheels. Combined with our new Global West coilover shock conversion on all four corners, the handling was never in question. Next year we need a driver who's willing to carry more speed through the corners that don't have those long drop-offs.

Spectre Performance
1720 South Carlos Avenue
CA  90761
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