FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 14, 2023
BEHIND THE WHEEL
TYLER PAPPAS RECEIVES 2023 PPIHC ALCON BRAKES NO HOLDING BACK AWARD
Colorado Springs, CO – The second oldest auto race in the USA, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo, has beckoned competitors for more than 100 years to the 12.42 mile high altitude course. Determined drivers willing to do what it takes not only to receive the coveted invitation to compete, but to complete the grueling week-long event successfully, often begin planning their next entry as soon as the race has ended.
The journey to the top from Jackson, New Jersey involved more than 156 turns for Pappas as his path to Colorado took quite a few turns of its own. Pappas was originally slated to drive Scott Birdsall’s diesel-powered 1949 Ford F1 nicknamed Old Smokey, but when Birdsall’s LMP1 wasn’t race-ready, Birdsall made the decision to pilot the truck himself. That left Pappas without a ride and a very short window to put together a suitable entry. With a switch to the Time Attack 1 division, Pappas began prepping the new entry, sharing, “We scrambled a bit but were able to move into a car we’d already built and raced – a 2012 BMW M3. While it wasn’t quite set up for Pikes Peak, and with only 10 days to get to Colorado, I worked tirelessly for a week straight and was able to reconfigure the car just enough to get it there in time for Tech Inspection.” Pappas continued, “It was a 30-hour haul from New Jersey that took me two full days to complete. As I drove into Eastern Colorado on Sunday I encountered several severe storms — and even saw my first tornado…not exactly a warm welcome! Luckily I had a solid co-pilot (my dog Ash) along for the ride and we made it to Colorado Springs with just 24 hours to spare before Tech.”
Beginning in 2015, Pappas began SCCA racing in the New Jersey Region Pro-IT series. The following year he raced at High Plains in Colorado in the 24 Hour Endurance Race, at Lime Rock in the Historic 33 Fall Festival, and in the VRG Summit Point West Virginia Royale Formula Ford Challenge. His 2017 highlights included New Jersey’s Devil in the Dark 12 hour endurance race, where he finished first in class, and the Vintage Racer Group’s 50th Anniversary Formula Ford Challenge when he led the competition on Day 1.
In 2018 Pappas notched three 1st place finishes in the BMW CCA racing event, and in 2019 was the winner of the 14 Hour Endurance Race at New Jersey Motorsports Park. By 2021, he was competing in the Gridlife Touring Cup.
“My first opportunity to drive up Pikes Peak was in 2019 when I competed in my own BMW M2 which we built in-house at Tyspeed,” shared Pappas. “We had great success for our first year, overcoming a lot of obstacles including absolutely atrocious conditions. We were the last team to run the full course in 2019 before it was shortened for adverse weather. I basically drove up in hail, sleet, rain and lightning, avoiding debris from several other crashed vehicles, and dodging a mountain goat along the way!”
Black and White
Pappas would clock a 12:28.242 in the Time Attack 1 division behind the wheel of his #241 BMW M2 in 2019 in his dark livery under grey skies.
Four years would elapse before he returned to the mountain for the 101st Running in June, this time sporting a bright white livery, racing in clear and sunny conditions, and reaching the summit in 11:14.996. Pappas said, “Since this car only makes 390hp at sea level, we were a little low on power on the mountain, but that allowed me to focus on my own driving – chasing momentum and maximizing the road to the best of my ability.
In the end I think my team and I put on a great showing considering the configuration of the car, and the time constraint we worked under to get here,” explained Pappas. “To be two for two on reaching the Summit in this difficult race, and to have improved upon my 2019 time, I’m super satisfied with our effort for 2023. As a privateer, I am just so very happy to be a part of this amazing event.”
Grateful for those who stood by him on the journey this year, Pappas stated, “I do need to mention a few folks who really helped me. My good friend and partner on the car, Tom Grady; my younger brother, Ryan Pappas, for being with me all week through every moment; our media partner, Vincent Nardone for sticking it out with us through every early morning and late night; plus my fiancée Julia for supporting me throughout this crazy 2-3 week endeavor and then making it out to watch this race. Lastly, I have to shout out the team at Winslow BMW for giving us a home for the week as well as supplying us with so many different resources to be able to make it to the top!”
Alcon No Holding Back Award
The annual award, provided by Alcon – Specialist Brakes and Clutches, was given for the third time in 2023 and is aimed toward rewarding a competitor with proven ability who experienced more than the usual race-related challenges. Pappas was selected as the 2023 recipient joining previous winners David Hackl – 2021, and Andy Kingsley – 2022.
“Tyler embodies the spirit of the Alcon No Holding Back Award,” said Jonathan Edwards, Group Sales Director for Alcon. “The only help he had for the test week prior to the event was from his brother Ryan. Most competitors would have given up following the news that their ride was not available, but not Tyler. He worked tirelessly with limited support to make it happen.”
Pappas received a certificate worth $12,000 in Alcon products to help elevate his racing performance. He was honored by the award, sharing, “It was such a satisfactory moment to be recognized for the effort we put in this year. It made it all so very worth it. I look forward to this new relationship with Alcon and want to thank them for offering such an awesome award! The fact of the matter is you really can do anything you put your mind to, and through the relentless pursuit of passion in motorsports I hope to continue to do great things in this sport with the resources we now have available.”
GET TO KNOW TYLER PAPPAS
Three Things For Fans To Know:
“I’m the only person in my family ever to be involved in motorsports and have truly gotten myself here through my own perseverance and by following my instincts!”
“I was born and raised in New Jersey, and I don’t believe there have been many, if any, other competitors from this state in the race’s history.”
“My daily driver is a 2003 BMW 330i with 201,000 miles…and counting!”
Pikes Peak Heroes: “The Vahsholtz family, Rod and Rhys Millen, Ken Block, and Sébastien Loeb”
Favorite Corner: “Honestly, the last one, because you know you’ve made it!”
Most Challenging: “No matter the vehicle, I feel that balancing speed and engine/brake temperatures is such a difficult task, especially in the middle W’s. Keeping it under wraps while in this section takes patience and foresight, and I find that challenging to implement on race day.”
Any plans for the car after Pikes Peak? “The car was originally configured for club racing with the likes of NASA, BMWCCA and the Gridlife Series. We’ll be participating in a handful of events with it during the duration of the 2023 Season.”
Favorite Track: “Watkins Glen”
What keeps you coming back? “There is simply no other event like Pikes Peak in the world. To be able to compete against some of my motorsport heroes is a special opportunity and I take it very seriously. Every time I drive back down the mountain after a practice run I look out to the great divide, and just for a moment, I feel a little closer to God.”
Photos by: Larry Chen, Charles Zhao, Leif Bergerson, Jason Zindrosky, Luis Garcia, Louis Yio
ABOUT THE PIKES PEAK INTERNATIONAL HILL CLIMB
First staged in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest race in America. The invitation-only event, often referred to as The Race to the Clouds is held annually on the last Sunday of June on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The famous 12.42-mile (20 km) course consists of 156 turns, boasts an elevation gain of 4,725 feet (1,440 m), and reaches a finish line at 14,115 feet (4,302 m) above sea level. The PPIHC’s six race divisions feature a wide variety of vehicles – from production-based Time Attack challengers to purpose-built Open Wheel racers and state-of-the-art Unlimited vehicles. The current race record was set in 2018 by Romain Dumas and Volkswagen in the all-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak – 07:57.148.
Communications Manager / Historian