On the whole, Nevada is known for a lot of unconventional activities—gambling, legal brothels, and nuclear testing, among others. And now the Spectre 341 as well, an unusual form of amateur motorsports that lets you drive your car as fast as you want on a closed-off state highway in northern Nevada. We highlighted the winner, Lou Gigliotti, in the intro blog, and we’ll now give a nod to the rest of the top-ten finishers—all of whom are winners in our book for braving this treacherous road course at blistering speeds.
Duck Fuson, 2nd Place, 3:15.2
Duck Fuson is a hillclimb/road-racing veteran. You have to be to come in 1.2 seconds behind Lou Gigliotti’s Corvette in the 2011 Spectre 341 Challenge Hill Climb, a 5.2-mile cruise up Nevada’s Geiger Grade at speeds over 150 mph.
A Reno, Nev. resident, Fuson had competed in the climb from 5,000 to 6,200-feet in elevation in the past, with the Audi Club. When a friend was killed going over a 500-foot drop off the side of the mountain in 2002, he quit. “I realized he wouldn’t quit,” Fuson said. So he got back into the fray. “I wasn’t aggressive. I just wanted to finish.” What would Fuson’s time have been had he been aggressive? That question will probably be answered at the 2012 Challenge.
Fuson’s ride was an outrageously modified 1974 Porsche 911 with a 993 facelift and 3.6-liter engine with a boost that hits 500 hp “on a good day.” He improved on the factory suspension with a Bilstein RSR. He had to reverse the impact of running wide slicks on the Porsche to accommodate the requirement for DOT performance tires. “Power and handling are important,” said Fuson, “but you really need to know what’s around the next corner. That’s the biggest advantage.”
Fuson is a strong turbo advocate. “A naturally aspirated engine looses 10- to 15-percent of its power at altitude,” he said. “The impact of a turbo on a hill climb like the Spectre 341 is tremendous.”
It helps that Fuson, as owner of Sport Haus in Reno, has been in the performance business for 28 years. “We went from a Porsche repair shop to a real Taj Mahal,” he said of the exotic and high performance sales and repair facility.
Fuson has road raced with the Porsche race club for years, never even considering motorsports on ovals. “Oval racing is boring. You turn in one direction, don’t shift. I like to drive my car.”
In terms of challenge, the Spectre climb is at the top of Fuson’s list. “It’s the most dangerous and demanding, by far,” he said of the route that features granite cliffs on one side and endless drop-offs on the other. “There are no turn workers, no tire barriers. It’s intense.”