Pike's Peak: Crazy Spaniards Fly SEAT Len Supercopa To Colorado, Ready To Race

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I’m skipping the Pacific Northworst 24 Hours of LeMons race, so that I can attend this weekend’s Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. I headed over to the mountain earlier today to drive the course, scout out good camera spots, and check out teams wrenching on their cars in motel parking lots.

The day started out in true low-budget-racing fashion, with my Civic’s rusty muffler falling off. Turns out spending its first decade in Chicago had some long-lasting effects, though 200,000 miles on the original exhaust system isn’t bad. Cadillac Bob, captain of the Swiss-cheesed, 454-powered LeMons AMC Marlin team, was joining me, and he suggested that we just remove the offending muffler and drive with a straight pipe. I had some idea of buying a cheap glasspack at Autozone and attempting to quiet the car’s D15B7 that way, but Bob’s idea sounded much simpler.

The car was loud, but tolerable for a 45-minute highway drive from my home in Denver to the base of the 14,115-foot mountain. The drones, roars, and howls emitted during the climb up to the summit got to be pretty aggravating, though. By 14,000 feet, the D15’s alleged 102 horsepower felt like about 50. Still, we got there.

The course for Sunday’s race was quite picturesque at 25 MPH. At race velocities… well, you’d have to be totally out of your freakin’ mind to take this road at speed. Endless switchbacks, guard-rail-less stretches with thousand-foot sheer drops below, road surface ranging from nice asphalt to bad asphalt to dirt, and the higher you get the more the lack of oxygen messes with your brain functions. Oh, it’s gonna be great!

How about a little trip up the hill in Ari Vatanen’s Peugeot?

After we rolled back down the mountain, we cruised the main drag in nearby Manitou Springs. Pike’s Peak racers often set up shop in their motel parking lots, and this serious-looking Shelby GT350 was the first race car we spotted.

This may be the best tire/wheel setup I’ve ever seen on a vintage Mustang. This ’67 will be racing in the RMVR/Vintage class on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

Parked nearby was this 2010 Camaro, entered in the Time Attack division; the car had suffered some oil pan damage during practice this morning and had just returned from a local welding shop.

Just down the street, we spotted what I took to be a weirdly modified Suzuki SX4. The body looked wrong, but that big S must be a Suzuki logo, right?

Wrong! This is a 2005 Seat León Supercopa, which this sponsor-less team had flown over from Spain in order to take on the world’s top hillclimb event.

We’re dealing with some very serious racing addicts here, and they were kind enough to take a break from their wrenching/tuning frenzy to answer questions from a pair of American car guys geeking out on their never-seen-in-America race car. In fact, this is the first SEAT I’ve ever seen in North America, period.

The SEAT goes up against 20 very tough competitors in the Time Attack class on Sunday ( here is a PDF of the entry lists), including the usual Evos and WRXs, so it will be interesting to see how Spanish steel fares against all that Japanese iron. Check in Sunday for the Pike’s Peak madness!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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2 of 17 comments
  • CraigSu CraigSu on Jun 26, 2011

    Ah, Manitou Springs, I'd almost forgotten about that place. I wound up there on a foggy, snowy day after perusing the Garden of the Gods. Good thing, too, as it allowed me the opportunity to get my wife and daughter some lovely lapis lazuli and silver jewelry as gifts.

  • PhilMills PhilMills on Jun 27, 2011

    That DarkHorse Camaro looked like a demon from hell in the dirt - the photos don't do the paintjob any justice.

  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He never had a problem with GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!
  • 3-On-The-Tree I only buy Toyota cars. But if the Chinese cars are cheap people will buy them. They don’t care about the above issues that were stated in this forum.
  • Tassos Ford models are like dumb Hollywood movies. The original is far better than their god damned sequels. This was true of the Mustang vs the II, AND the Capri vs its second gen, and their BEV PORKER atrocities many decades later
  • Jeff I would not buy a Chinese car with the current global situation with Taiwan and Ukraine but I believe eventually China will become the number 1 producer of vehicles globally. Lou brought up a valid point that much of the content of new vehicles has components made in China. Even many of the tires that are sold are made in China. Try buying a small appliance or electronics that are not made in China. Many of the electric motors that go in power reclining furniture are made in China. Many auto parts especially replacement parts are made in China.