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July 29. 2013 8:10PM

Cloud climb

'Climb to the Clouds' to return in 2014


Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins rounds the infamous Cragway Turn on Mount Washington Auto Road en route to setting a course record of 6 minutes 11.54 seconds in 2011. Higgins plans to return in June 2014 to try to reach the summit in less than 6 minutes. (LARS GANGE/SRTUSA)

The Mount Washington Hillclimb, known as the "Climb to the Clouds" and one of America's oldest motor sports events, will return in 2014.

A field of 75 cars, featuring top drivers from North America and around the world, will be competing June 26-29 in Pinkham Notch. Rare vintage race cars will also be on display at the event.

The Hillclimb, which originally started in 1904, was sporadically run from 1904-1961. It came back from 1990 to 2001 and, after another hiatus, came back for one season in 2011 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mount Washington Auto Road.

Beginning in 1990, several new course records were shared between seven-time Sports Car Club of America National Rally Champion Paul Choiniere, of Shelburne, Vt., and multi-time Canadian Rally champion Frank Sprongl, of Mississauga, Ont. Sprongl set a record time of 6:41.99 in 1998 driving his 500 horsepower Audi Quattro S2 that would stand for 13 years.

In 2011, four-time Rally America Overall Champion David Higgins arrived at Mount Washington and set the new course record of 6:11.54, driving a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2011 Subaru WRX STI all-wheel-drive rally car.

Higgins spoke after his record run about the course, something fans should remember when the event rolls around next season.

"It was a very big challenge because the road was still wet in spots and would turn very slick suddenly," said Higgins. "With the clouds, the visibility was so low I could hardly see past the hood of my car. Our Subaru was set up perfectly for a road like this but I've never raced here before and it was a lot of work to try to learn the course. It's fantastic to have the record at such a prestigious event."

The 2014 Subaru Mount Washington Hillclimb will be competing on the same 7.6-mile road as the original event in 1904.

For more information about the Hillclimb, visit www.climbtotheclouds.com. Or call director Paul Giblin at 986-1217.


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