“After debuting his VR38DETT-powered Ford Focus–bodied machine at 2015 Repco Race to the Sky, Tony Quinn prepares for the 100th anniversary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the USA”

You’ve got to admire Tony Quinn. He’s one of those blokes that just makes things happen, and he never ceases to amaze us with where he takes his motorsport antics. This time around, Quinn has set out to contend in Race to the Clouds, or Pikes Peak as it’s also known, in the USA on June 24. 

Pikes Peak is America’s second-oldest motorsport event after the Indy 500, however the course doesn’t feature the same surface that it did at its inception. Now, the 20km, 156-turn hill climb is a pure tarmac-only course, which has seen times drop and the machines that contest it get lower and lower each year. The course starts at 9000 feet, and finishes at an astonishing engine-strangling 14,115 feet. 

“I feel pretty special to be part of it,” says Quinn. “As a rookie I had to give the organizers the names of a couple of referees who could vouch for me. Having the legendary ‘Monster’ [Nobuhiro] Tajima and Robby Gordon in my corner certainly helped me secure an invite.”

Just recently Quinn attacked the mountain during a recce in a convertible Ford Mustang in order to get his bearings. And, although he has a fear of heights, felt at home on the road, saying that it was an enjoyable circuit to drive. 

After mentioning Sebastien Loeb and his $14-million hill-climb effort in 2013 to claim the current record, Quinn says he’ll be taking a more affordable approach, with only one mechanic to work on his Ford Focus monster. 

“Me and my mechanic Harry are going to try and do it for a lot less than that.”

There’s no denying Quinn’s Focus is a quick machine, with a 633kW (849hp) VR38DETT engine from an R35 GT-R. The space-frame chassis and Focus body combination produce 1000kg of downforce at its peak, and weigh in at 950kg. So you can imagine the kind of high-speed handling and cornering capabilities this vehicle would have. 

“I think the car will go really well and I’m looking forward to posting a good time, but it’s the same as any other race. The stars have to align for you, and if they don’t, any mistake you make will be punished. I’m competing in the Donegal International Rally in Ireland this week [June 17–19] so hopefully I’ll get to Pikes Peak in good form. We’ll see how we go and we’ll give it a good lash.”

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.