Ever heard of a driver performing a gymkhana while climbing the world-renowned Pikes Peak? Seems unusual and outrageous, but there is a driver daring enough to take on this challenge. Professional rally driver, Ken Block, is more than skilled to pilot an equally outrageous car to perform a “Climbkhana” (climbing + gymkhana) at the Pikes Peak, the high point of the El Paso county in Colorado, United States.
A gymkhana performance is a difficult thing to accomplish, and so is climbing a 14,000-feet mountain. Block managed to accomplish both in his Pikes Peak Climbkhana performance, making it seem that his methanol-fueled highly modified car was dancing as it traveled from the starting point to the finish line at the peak.
To set things straight, Block’s Climbkhana wasn’t a shot at being the fastest to complete the Pikes Peak. That record was set in 2013 by Sebastien Loeb in the driver’s seat of a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak. He completed the 12.42 miles of the climb course in just eight minutes and 13.878 seconds. That wasn’t an easy feat, considering that climbing from 9,390 ft. (2,862 meters) to 14,110 ft. (4,300 meters) -- both above sea level – affects the performance of a typical engine due to atmospheric density or air density. Thinner air means less compression for a typical engine as less oxygen and other matter is drawn into the cylinders.
As a general rule of thumb, the engine loses between three to four percent of its power (output and torque) for every 1,000 feet above sea level. This means that at Pikes Peak, a typical engine only retains 71 percent of the supposed power level at the starting line to 59 percent at the finish line. However, solutions like turbochargers could mitigate this effect, and Block’s driving machine has, not just one, but two of them.
Introducing the Hoonicorn V2, the much improved version of the 845-hp Hoonicorn unveiled at the 2014 SEMA show. Derived from the 1965 Ford Mustang, the Hoonicorn was powered by a 410 cubic-inch 6.75-liter Roush Yates Ford V8 engine that delivers 845 hp of max output and 720 lb.-ft. of peak torque as mated to a six-speed Sadev SC90-24 all-wheel-drive transmission with a hydraulic handbrake system. Eventually, Block decided to squeeze more power out of the engine by employing two turbochargers and cranking up the boost to 21 psi. The engine’s hardware was also modified to allow it to burn methanol. The result is around 1,400 hp worth of devastation.
The bonnet of the evolved Hoonicorn features colors of the American flag, although the popped out engine and turbochargers are more recognizable than the livery. The Hoonicorn V2 rides in bespoke Toyo compound tires -- Toyo Proxes R888R tires in particular – to deliver the grip and stability that Block needed while dancing his way up the Pikes Peak.