Larison Rock 2018
By Alan Bowers
July 7th and 8th marked the 31st running of the Larison Rock HillClimb, however it was a little different from years past. This year the torch was passed from Bonnie and Jim Mueller to Tony Chilton and Doug Drouet. It was time for someone else to take on the enormous task from the steadfast and hardworking chairs of the past 30 years. I was involved too, but Tony and Doug took on the burden of planning, organizing and executing the event. and though a few hiccups came along the way, the weekend ended with smiling faces. Let’s not forget, too, the incredible work by Tim and Peggy Steck to sort out registration and timing which was a near 6-month process leading all the way up to and including the race weekend.
Our process began in November. Tony scheduled a time for us to get together, and with the direction of Bonnie and Jim we created lists for how to tackle each aspect. Over the next few months we slowly but surely collected the information we needed and called around for the various services that are necessary for making a hillclimb happen. We even held a couple of training and test sessions for timing and registration as well as trips to the hill for cleanup and general preparation. The dream of another Larison Rock was quickly becoming a reality.
Arriving Friday, as in years past, we set up camp at the Best Western for registration and vehicle tech inspection. Hill setup was taking place at the same time, and we had front row tickets to the procession of race cars coming through to ready themselves for the weekend. That evening was also the first-timers and novice course walkthrough. Many new faces were mixed in with the usual bunch, and with more questions and eagerness than I had seen in the past few years. Through it all, the volunteers made it happen and we were ready for action the next day!
Saturday began as usual with what could only be described as controlled chaos. Timing was the elephant in the room, being in a reverse configuration than what we’d done before. Morning meeting and new-driver hill orientation went well though, so we were still on a decent track when the first green flag waved. There was some teething issues with the timing equipment, but the morning groups ran up the hill with vigor and stayed shiny side up. The afternoon was wrought with false and missed finishes. However, of the timed runs Carl Marcum left Saturday with the quickest time of the day.
Sunday came with a host of changes to timing. We reverted to the tried and true setup and had a flawless system. If only the same could be said of the drivers. Morning group had two consecutive drivers experience an “off”. Thankfully both were largely uninjured, and though the stoppages caused about an hour’s delay, we all were thankful for the new NHA neck donut regulations which surely prevented worse. When all the dust settled, we had our King and Queen. Stefan Denham recorded a 1:47.8 and Jennifer Ocker a 1:54.0. Both Stefan and Jennifer beat last year’s times by around 4 seconds a piece. Incredible jobs by both.
In summary; though we had to cut one run off each participant’s weekend we still made it through with cheerful and satisfied drivers. Words cannot express how wonderful the many vital volunteers were this weekend. They were truly the backbone for making the entire event happen and deserve all the credit possible. As for Bonnie and Jim, although they said they wouldn’t make an appearance, by Saturday evening they were there to provide expertise that only individuals with 30+ years of hillclimb and autocross experience can. And from what I’ve witnessed this weekend, I am extremely hopeful for the future of Larison Rock knowing when the stakes are highest that we’ll come together to pull off an amazing motorsport event.