NX GTi-R: Hill Climb Edition
Two years of wait time is over. With the car now running and putting down reasonable horsepower, it was time to dust off my driving gear and check out how rusty my skills had become. The NX GTi-R was pulled out of AES Auto, loaded up on my tow dolly, and started the trek east down the Trans-Canada Highway and Coquihalla Highway to Kelowna, B.C. and the home of Knox Mountain Park. This was the location of my next bucket list adventure, the Leavitt Machinery Knox Mountain Hill Climb.
After watching every video that was available on YouTube, my comfort level in the track was pretty good. I thought that a good time was easily within reach and, while not being overconfident, I was pretty sure that I would have a good weekend. And I did – although some would consider ending the weekend with a 44th overall finish far from spectacular. In fact, prior to the event I had predicted a much better overall result. But when you narrow the field down to comparing only street prepared class then the NX GTi-R was 16th overall – sound any better? How about that in the speed trap set up on the course that I got the 29th fastest speed overall – that has got to prove that the car has more capability than the driver (Hmmm, somehow that is not helping me!) How about that the car that beat me in my class was a superb '71 Camaro with a twin turbo setup that put down enough combined horsepower and torque to move the mountain, let alone climb up it! Does that sound better?
You are not buying it, are you! The bottom line, even though the NX GTi-R was having some minor issues, with AES Auto on site supporting me there were no mechanical challenges that were really holding me back. My time was solid yet it was not what I was looking for. There was only one good run that was 3 seconds faster than my next best run. Inconsistent. I simply could not make it happen. Was it all in the driver's head! Was I too rusty? Away from running on the edge for too long? Have I gotten so old that my current edge simply does not cut it anymore? I mean, seriously, who flies by cliff edges, rock faces, and trees within two metres of a narrow, public park road that is far from track prepped? Okay, apart from other hill climbers … and rally drivers, of course, who are certifiably crazy. Mentally, this course is intimidating. And, incredibly fun! Perhaps this driver just does not have what it takes to challenge the hill! Honestly, I think it is the plain truth to say that both myself the driver and the car were a bit rusty and not fully ready for the challenge. But, we will be next year.
Now back to the basics. My tow vehicle of choice is a 24' Triple E C-class RV based upon a Ford E450 chasis. I pull a tow dolly, so obviously the car's rear wheels are always on the ground. While there are both negative and positive side effects of this combination, I like to focus upon the positive (and forget about the V10's thirsty engine). First of all, the tow dolly is compact for storage. Second, with the RV I have a compact home away from home. I can have a snooze anytime I need one in relative comfort. There is a fridge, freezer, stove, and I picked up a compact BBQ for steaks and burgers. Plus, towing with the RV you barely feel what's behind you – that was the case when I have pulled both open and enclosed single car trailers in the past.