Driving his competition-spec Red Bull Speed Chasers Subaru WRX STI, rally ace and all-around motorsport marvel Travis Pastrana has set a new record of six minutes 20.47 seconds in taking on the 7.6-mile/100-plus turn Mt Washington Auto Road. Posting an average speed of nearly 72 mph, the four-time Rally America National Champion along with co-driver Ian Clarke slashed 21.52 seconds off of the previous best-ever run made by Frank Sprongl in an Audi Quattro, a record that had endured since 1998.
Located in New Hampshire, 6,288-foot Mt. Washington is the tallest peak in the Northeast U.S. While its historic Auto Road lacks the sheer distance and absolute height of the famed Pikes Peak run in Colorado, the 4,618-foot elevation change represents a far steeper 11.6-percent gradient over a considerably shorter venue.
Never even having seen the Mt. Washington Auto Road before Tuesday, Pastrana set the new RallyCar-sanctioned mark on his first official attempt before fog and rain clouds moved in at the summit to prevent any hope of bettering the time on three subsequent tries. His effort was undertaken as part of an early evaluation of surface conditions on the fabled dirt/asphalt Auto Road which is scheduled to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year with the revival of the "Climb to the Clouds" challenge. The competition is set to take place on June 22-26 and will be the first running of the event there since 2001.
Pastrana, who last New Year's Eve set the world record for distance jumping his Subaru WRX STI 269 feet at the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach and more recently spent time adding to his vast collection of X Games gold medals found the Mt. Washington outing much to his liking. "This is an amazing road, and just so much fun. It's extremely challenging, there is no room for error -- and the scenery is epic."