Pinkham Notch, NH – Officials with the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, NH, the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire and Subaru of America announced today that the Nation’s oldest automobile Hillclimb, the historic Mt. Washington Hillclimb, scheduled for July 9-12, 2020, has been rescheduled to July 8-11, 2021 due to concerns surrounding the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
Organized by the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire for the Mt. Washington Auto Road with support from Subaru of America, the 2020 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb was to serve as a 3-day motorsports festival July 9-12 which would include an 80-car competition field filled with some of the best road race, hillclimb and rally drivers from across North America and the world, as well as a contingent of rare vintage road race and rally cars, an autograph session, vendors, food trucks and other activities.
However, due to numerous health and safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic that are yet to be resolved by the State of New Hampshire and the Federal Government including limitations imposed on large gatherings, interstate and international travel, limited lodging availability and most importantly, the health and safety of everyone involved with the Hillclimb, event officials made the difficult decision this week to reschedule the historic hillclimb to July 8-11, 2021.
“As much as we’d like to welcome competitors, volunteers, sponsors and spectators to the 2020 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb July 9-12, 2020 as planned, we feel that as event organizers it’s the safe and prudent thing to do for everyone concerned to reschedule the Mt. Washington Hillclimb to July 8-11, 2021," stated Howard Roundy, Event Director for the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire. “We’d like to thank the officials, competitors, volunteers, sponsors and spectators for their support & understanding as well as the management team at the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Bill Stokes, Motorsports Manager at Subaru of America, for their help and guidance in making this difficult decision.”
Also known as the “Climb to the Clouds," the Mt. Washington Hillclimb is North America’s oldest automobile hillclimb event, first run in July 1904—seven years before the first Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and twelve years prior to the inaugural Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado. The Climb to the Clouds was run sporadically from 1904 -1961, then not again until 1990 when it was run consistently until 2001. Following a ten-year break, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb returned in 2011 as part of the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s 150th anniversary celebration as the Auto Road first opened on August 8, 1861. Since then, the Hillclimb has taken place in 2014 as well as 2017. Event officials, competitors, volunteers, and spectators have been looking forward to celebrating a 30-year milestone in July 2020 since the historic Hillclimb was brought back after a 29-year hiatus in July 1990.
“We at Subaru Motorsports USA, like all racing fans, are disappointed that the Mt. Washington Hillclimb has been postponed. But the most important consideration is the health and safety of the teams and fans,” said Bill Stokes, Motorsports Manager for Subaru of America. “Since Travis Pastrana’s record-breaking win at the 2017 Hillclimb, our goal has been to return in 2020 to compete for another overall win and try to break that 2017 mark. We support the decision of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire to postpone the event and look forward to returning in 2021 with our sights set on another all-time record up the mountain.”
The current record time of 5 minutes 44.72 seconds for the 7.6-mile course to the summit of Mt. Washington was set by multi-time X Games Gold medalist, Nitro Circus creator and 5-time US Rally Champion Travis Pastrana at the 2017 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb. Driving a Subaru Rally Team USA / Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2017 Subaru WRX STI rally car with over 600 horsepower, Pastrana crushed the previous course record time of 6:09.09 which was set in 2011 by his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate, David Higgins from Wales, by nearly 30 seconds! Averaging more than 90 miles per hour along the 7.6-mile course in 2017, Pastrana also recorded speeds in excess of 130 mph above tree line.
There is truly no question that the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road is one of the ultimate challenges for driver and automobile anywhere in the world. The serpentine road to the 6,288-foot summit of Mt. Washington is lined with trees on the lower half and dramatic drop-offs above tree line which begins at 4,000 feet. Today’s competitors use the very same road as the original 1904 Climb to the Clouds competitors. Of course, the surface of the road has changed a lot in the past 116 years with nearly 90% of the road now covered with asphalt, while 10% of the road’s surface remains hard-packed gravel.
“This was a difficult decision to have to reschedule this year's Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb. As we are all feeling changes that are amongst us, we always put the safety of our staff and guests first. These are very challenging times for everyone,” stated Mt. Washington Auto Road Assistant General Manager, Tobey Reichert. “This race has been going on for many years and we will do our part to continue the tradition. With the rescheduling of the event to July 8-11, 2021 this will give everyone involved a chance to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and make this event even bigger and better than ever before.“
For the 2021 edition of the Climb to the Clouds, the 80 competitors previously accepted to compete in the 2020 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb have already been notified they are accepted for the 2021 event. Next year’s Mt. Washington Hillclimb will also retain the same competition classes and safety rules adopted for 2020. These classes include the popular Unlimited Class as well as Open, Prepared, High Performance Showroom Stock, Rallycross, two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive Rally, Modified Electric, Stock Electric and Vintage. Other event-related details for 2021 such as pre-event competitor and volunteer registration as well as the event schedule and spectator ticket sales for 2021 will be shared in the coming months on the event’s official web site here.