Saab 900 Turbo “Races to the Clouds” in 75th Annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Posted on 01. Jul, 1997 by in 1990-1999, 900 NG



Saab 900 Turbo “Races to the Clouds” in 75th Annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The high-altitude thin air, dizzying drop-offs and 156 curves snaking up to the summit of Pikes Peak proved to be no obstacle for a 1997 Saab 900 Turbo five-door Talladega edition driven at high speeds by Car & Driver technical editor Larry Webster. On the Fourth of July, Webster raced the Saab to the 14,110-ft. mountain summit in 14 minutes, 13.46 seconds at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

The second oldest motorsports race in the United States is one of the most spectacular and most challenging. Only the Indy 500 has a longer history than the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, held on July 4 near Colorado Springs, Colo. This year-the 75th annual running of the race-Saab placed second in the High Performance Showroom Stock 2WD class.

larrySaab conquered the mountain with a 900 Turbo that is virtually identical to one that’s available right off the showroom floor, right down to the leather-lined interior and optional walnut dashboard trim. Rules allow very few modifications to the car other than a racing seat, five-point safety belts, B.F. Goodrich racing tires, roll cage and other safety equipment. The 185-hp 2.0L four-cylinder engine is turbocharged and intercooled, matched with a five-speed manual transmission. High altitudes sap the power from most engines, but turbocharging helps to overcome the effects of the mountain’s thin air because the turbo pressurizes the intake air for the engine.

This year’s weather on Pikes Peak was clear and beautiful for the entire week of practice and qualifying. Race day was splendidly sunny, enjoyed by thousands of spectators along the race course. There are 156 turns on the unpaved road racing course that starts at about 9,400 feet and reaches the finish line at the 14,110-ft. mountain summit. There isn’t a guard rail on the 12.42-mile course, and the breath-taking

Although Webster is an experienced racer, he was a “rookie” driver at Pikes Peak, and plans to write about his racing adventure in an article in Car & Driver magazine’s September issue. “Driving the Saab up the mountain was awesome. Given my limited experience on Pikes Peak, I felt I drove as fast as I could,” Webster commented after the race. “We had plenty of power-in fact, full throttle coming out of corners would produce too much wheelspin,” Webster added. “Thinking about the drop-offs can be more than a little intimidating though.”

Webster noted that the changing road surfaces make this type of racing especially challenging. The road ranges from loose gravel to rutted hard-pack to even a short section of paved surface. Speeds on the course can reach in excess of 100 mph on the few short straightaways, although 42 percent of the course is curves, including many first- and second-gear switchbacks. The Pikes Peak record is 10:04.06 minutes, held by Rod Millen in a 750-hp specially prepared 4WD race car in the Unlimited class. Although Millen was
driving hard to beat the elusive 10-minute barrier, his time up the mountain (10:04.54) was a split-second slower than his 1994 record. Millen’s son, Rhys, competed for the sixth consecutive year at Pikes Peak, claiming first place and a new record in the Saab’s class with a 320-hp turbocharged Toyota Supra. There were 105 cars & trucks entered in this year’s race, and 105 motorcycles & quads-the largest field ever.

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2 Responses to “Saab 900 Turbo “Races to the Clouds” in 75th Annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb”


    23. Jan, 2019

    Альфа-Банк финансирует и благотворительную программу «Линия жизни» по
    спасению тяжелобольных детей.

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  1. Anonymous - February 20, 2015

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