“This place forces the actual intangibles to the surface, ” event creator and Spectre Performance owner Amir Rosenbaum says.
The challenge takes intangibles for example nerves, eyesight and veins having a healthy quantity of ice water pumped within. This occasion isn't with regard to amateurs and not for that faint of heart.
The event started since the Virginia Town Slope Ascend in 1972. At that time, the president from the Ferrari Owner's Membership, Hans Tanner, wanted to bring much more European-style climbs towards the States. Freeway 341 in Virginia Town ended up being an ideal venue.
The climb was run that way until the early 1990s, when two things happened. One, the cars owned by the Ferrari Owner Club jumped from being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. At the same time, the Ferrari Club of America opened a West Coast chapter and started its own hill climb. It formed a cooperative with the Northern California Shelby Club, and their climb still runs in September.
It was during those early years that Rosenbaum set the world record of three minutes, 10 seconds in a lightly tuned Ferrari F40. The original June event was discontinued in 2002.
Fast-forward to 2010: Rosenbaum and his performance company are looking for publicity and decide to bring the hill climb back under its new name, the Spectre 341 Challenge. All are invited but few attend. Last year's event had 18 drivers, but only six hit the target time. The event was also struck with tragedy when Las Vegas race-car driver Alexander Djordjevic was killed when his Porsche 911 Turbo went off the edge on day one of the event.
The fastest time of the weekend went to Gigliotti, at three minutes, 14 seconds. Following him was Duck Fuson with his 1974 Porsche 911 at three minutes, 15 seconds, and Jeff Rosen in a 2009 GT3 RS at three minutes, 22 seconds. Rosenbaum's best time is still safe, for now.
All in all, 13 drivers beat the target time, eight of which are new entries into the 341 Club. Five bested previous times to retain the distinction. Almost one-third of the field gained entrance into the club and the average times were faster than 2010 any way you measure it.
The Spectre 341 Challenge is unlike any other race. There's no way to practice (legally), and there's no telling what the course might be like in a few hours, a few days or a few years. It wasn't built to hold a race car, which is why incidents are far too likely.
Spectre Performance does its best to keep everyone safe, and for that it should be commended. From running around for loaner helmets and checking tires and belts to debriefing participants after a run or two, the event couldn't be much safer, considering the circumstances. But any amateur who wants to take on the hill should do so with preparation, concentration and a healthy dose of respect for the asphalt ribbon that is Highway 341.