FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 7, 2023
BEHIND THE WHEEL
BRITAIN’S DUNCAN COWPER RACES TO THE CLOUDS AND LANDS ON THE PODIUM
Colorado Springs, CO – The 101st Running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo, welcomed competitors from around the world, making it a true international event. PPIHC rookie, Duncan Cowper of Bishops Stortford, Great Britain, arrived in Colorado in his Alcon Brakes-sponsored 2009 Cowper Dax Rush Pikes Peak Special ready to take on the 12.42 mile course.
A relative stranger to Pikes Peak, Cowper is no stranger to auto racing. His racing career began in 1992 with Kart racing – he finished third overall in his first race. By the end of the first season he was listed 7th of the 132 drivers competing in the championship.
In 1995 he moved to sprint car racing and started collecting trophies. In 2011 he won the British Sprint Modified Production class. He didn’t stop there, but moved on to compete in the UK Time Attack series winning his class and setting two daily fast times. He shifted to drag racing and won the Ultimate Fast Car Class O. Cowper entered a competition known as “Ten of the Best” earning many class wins and ultimately the final competition. In 2016 he entered the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, an event similar to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, finishing in 2nd place overall.
The first time Cowper made the trip to the 14,115′ summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain was in 2018 when Alcon’s Jonathan Edwards was supporting the VW I.D. R effort, and they drove up the mountain together. Cowper recalls, “Driving up in that rental car was an intense experience.” Being a spectator firsthand in 2016 was a dream come true for Cowper, but actually competing on the mountain wasn’t even on his radar at the time.
Cowper shared details on his one-off build. “The car is essentially a self-built Lotus 7 type car centered around a 1999 Dax Rush chassis. This is the first Dax to race at Pikes Peak, but I’ve raced it for many years in the UK, winning various sprints and local hill climbs. The car is super light at 600kg (1,050lbs) and has about 400bhp, with a 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa engine and features an uprated 6-speed gearbox and the Alcon Formula 3 braking system. Our recipe – less is more!”
The Fastest Plasterer
Jonathan Edwards of Alcon Brakes shared, “Special thanks to the Fastest Pastor for his help and motivation. Ironically Duncan is a plasterer by trade and we nicknamed him the Fastest Plasterer.
A lot of racers place great significance in choosing their race number and Cowper is no exception. “The number 35 belonged to motorcycle racer Burt Munro of ‘World’s Fastest Indian’ fame,” shared Cowper. “Burt is a hero of mine and there are similarities between us. I’m just a guy from the UK doing everything I can to travel halfway around the world, just like Burt, to compete in the USA.”
Surpassing the Goal
Before the June 25th race, Cowper’s goal read, “To get to the top of America’s Mountain…if we could finish that would be a massive achievement for us.”
A Run Rewarded
Cowper’s sub-10-minute rookie run of 9:57.072, placed him in third, just edging the Fastest Pastor, Don Wickstrum, who clocked a 10:00.297 in his 2016 Axel Riley Ave LMP3 in the same division. Dan Novembre finished second, while defending champion, Robin Shute of the UK, claimed his fourth King of the Mountain.
“To finish third in class, well that just doesn’t happen to normal people like us. And to go sub-10 minutes is just unbelievable. I think I’m possibly the 5th or 6th fastest Rookie of all time, I still can’t get my head around that!. It just goes to show what a small team with limited budget can do if they really put their minds to it!”
GET TO KNOW DUNCAN COWPER
Three Things For Fans To Know:
“I worked for DJ sports cars for ten years building customer cars and as a test driver for their cobras and “7” style cars.”
“I topped the “Top Gear” lap board, unofficially, at a private event in the car I raced at Pikes Peak.”
“My father passed away a few years ago, but would have been so proud knowing we made it. He was with me in spirit on Race Day.”
Pikes Peak Heroes: “Rod Millen and Ari Vatanen”
Three words to describe Pikes Peak: “Best Adventure Ever”
Who helped you get to Pikes Peak: “My mate Jon Edwards, he pushed me to come and obtained the entry for me so without Jon and Alcon Brakes I wouldn’t have even thought this was possible. Robb Holland loaned us a truck and trailer. Also of special mention is Don Wickstrum who has helped me massively in so many ways.”
Biggest Challenge: “Getting my car to the US. Logistically, it was not easy. There was a lot to sort. Then, after the awards ceremony one of the team flew back to the UK with the truck and trailer keys making it rather hard to get our race car back to Denver!”
Photos by: Larry Chen, Charles Zhao, Luis Garcia, Alcon Brakes
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.