Ed Hugo, a San Francisco lawyer, had a unique perspective on the 2011 Spectre 341 Challenge Hill Climb. “It was heaven,” he said of the 5.2-mile closed course, two-lane blacktop with 22 turns on its way up the Geiger Grade between Virginia City, Nev. and the Comstock Lode area.
Ed Hugo, 9th Place: 3:32.8
The Spectre course was gravelly, off-camber and suffered from multiple layers of asphalt, not exactly heaven. Hugo, who came in ninth in the Challenge with a 3:32.8 in a 2008 Dodge Viper was comparing the hill climb with his participation in Mexico’s Chihuahua Express a few months before.
“The Express was a three-day event that covers 1,000 miles, a combination race and rally,” Hugo said. Chihuahua, near the Copper Canyon, serves as the hub of daily excursions out and back, separated into eight to 12 speed sections and transit, or rally, sections in between. He came in third overall, first in his class with the Viper. The road surface was paved alright, but over ungraded dirt. “There were ripples in areas,” he said. There were times the Viper had all four wheels in the air over the roughest portions of the course. Yes, compared to that, the Geiger Grade was smooth as silk.
The Chihuahua Express is considered practice for Mexico’s premier La Carrera Panamericana seven-day road race. Hugo ran La Carrera in 2009, but not in his Viper. He bought the Viper used with about half the modifications—headers and exhaust, with a rough-track set up and high performance computer—already on the car. To that, Hugo added a ported intake, roll cage, racing seats a rear wing and splitter.
With his experience at both the Chihuahua Express and Spectre 341, Hugo would consider a softer suspension and a higher stance to the car. The sight of Evos flying past him with all four wheels on the ground in Mexico made that decision fairly obvious.
Hugo has some serious road racing under his belt. He’s within an easy cruise to both Sears Point (Infineon) and Laguna Seca, though Infineon sees the majority of the Viper’s miles since Laguna has some serious decibel level restrictions.
Like all the Spectre 341 competitors, Hugo has already started thinking about next year on the Geiger Grade. “I know I’ve got another ten seconds in me,” he said. That ten seconds would have been enough to beat Jeremy Kappus, in an Evo.