Colorado Cool – 2018 Hot Rod Hill climb
The 2018 Hot Rod Hill Climb celebrates those that revel in the past and strive to revive history to regale in its former glory. It’s more than just a traditional hot rod gig. It’s an experience.
The Hot Rod Hillclimb is an ode to an automotive challenge that took place in Georgetown, Colorado, back in 1952 – 1954. The race was put on by the Denver Sports Car Club but a few hot rodders showed up with their home built jalopies to run up the hill and fortunately, Hot Rod Magazine was on hand to cover the event. Fifty plus years later, Mike Nicholas of Nick’s Hot Rod Garage discovered the story and thought about how cool it would have been to be there.
A few years later, with urging from friends and family, he took a chance to repeat history and (re)launched the Hot Rod Hill climb in 2013, just time for a 60th anniversary. The event now takes place in Central City and though it’s not a timed event, nor even a competition, it’s one of the most unique, cool experiences you can have with your hot rod.
The Hillclimb is based around ‘50s and older hot rods and from what we saw, mostly 1940 and prior models. Overhead valve engines, other than vintage conversions, are nominal as the bulk of the entries are Flatheads, bangers and in-lines. Walking through the pits you’ll see an amazing array of vintage speed parts and mechanical ingenuity.
If your hot rod doesn’t quite fit the traditional vibe of a vintage build, you can still bring your car out to be a part of the scene. There’s a show that lines the main drag of Central City past the casinos and shops plus you can take part in Friday’s Reliability Run, if you’re brave enough!
This 60-plus mile drive takes rodders through mountain scenery and back roads putting carbs, ignition tuning and brake systems to the test. There was even one optional leg on the tour aptly named the “Oh My God Road” that took rodders up a winding dirt road and through a couple retired mining towns. The views were well worth the washboard roads.
After a street taco pit party Friday night, it was time to kick off Saturday morning with hot rods warming up in the packed staging lanes for a chance to run up Spring Street ending at Virginia Canyon Road with a view of the town below.
Not a single driver nor passenger returned without a huge grin across their face. No times, no competition, no cash rewards – just the pure joy and spectacle of reliving hot rodding history.
If you’re still up for more mountain rodding fun come Sunday morning, there’s a peak-to-peak run to top off the weekend. This cruise ran from Central City north to Estes Park along a scenic mountain byway. Quite a way to wrap up an already amazing weekend.
The team at Nick’s Hot Rod Garage has proven that repeating history can be a great experience after all. If you’re ready to revel in the past, make plans for the Hot Rod Hill Climb or check out their spring event, the Hot Rod Dirt Drags.