The Squealing Tire

Tire Talk from the Experts at Discount Tire Company.

The Squealing Tire - Tire Talk from the Experts at Discount Tire Company.

Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class Driver Rodney O’Maley Interview

Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class

PPIHC Driver Rodney O’Maley poses in front of his Custom Built Open Wheel Class Race Car

Discount Tire’s own Rodney O’Maley, Assistant Store Manager at COS 02 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, made his 4th attempt at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year.  Rodney competes in the Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class in a car he and his brother built together.  After putting down a solid 2013 run time of 12:22.250 Rodney placed 3rd in his class.  We had a chance to speak with Rodney and he was happy to share some insights about his car and how he got into racing.

Discount Tire:  How long have you been Racing?

O’Maley:  “I have been into Hill Climb Racing my entire life.   When I was growing up my dad raced a stock car and then moved to racing a quad so ever since I can remember I have been around it.  I started racing when I turned 14 in the JR class for the Colorado Hill Climb Association.  In 2005 I turned 16 and decided I was ready to make my first attempt at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb so I entered the Super Sprint Class. (Pretty much same as open wheel just has a limit on motor size and more weight rules.)  After that, I took few years off but I decided to return to Pikes Peak in 2011.  I entered the Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class and have been racing in it ever since.   This year makes three consecutive years and I plan to continue that streak for many more.”

Discount Tire: What is your favorite part about the Pikes Peak race?

O’Maley: “Its hard to narrow it down to one favorite but I think my favorite part about racing on Pikes Peak is its one of a kind atmosphere.  No other race climbs almost 5,000 feet in a 12.5 mile course.  It has large drop offs and blind comers and, because its on a mountain, the track conditions can change very quickly.   You only get one chance at it on race day so you’ve got to make your run count.”

Discount Tire:  You race an awesome car.  Can you tell us about it?

O’Maley:  “My brother Earl and I built my current car over the winter of 2011 and spring 2012.  It has a mixture of design influences.  Some of the design came from my brother’s car that I ran back in 2005 (small, sleek, and in board suspension) and a few of its design influence came from of a Wells Coyote.  The motor is a turbo charged 3.0 liter Ford SHO from an early 90’s Taurus.  At the dyno we had about 350 HP.  This year I ran some custom Weld Racing 3 piece wheels with 15″ Michelin Rally Tarmac tires on the front and 18″ Michelin rain tires on the back.”

Discount Tire: What can you tell us about the Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class?

O’Maley: “I like the Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class.  I think the main reason I run in this class is because I like how open the rules are.  There is a lot of room to change the car and do what I want with it.  I have been able to keep my vehicle light weight and I still have enough power to compete against some of the higher powered, more expensive cars.  I also like the fact that my open wheel car exposes me to the elements.  I can feel the wind, hear my engine and see exactly where I’m pointing my tires.  It makes for a fun and challenging experience.” 

Discount Tire: Do you race in any other events?

O’Maley: “I do race 5-6 other events over the year in the Colorado Hill Climb Association.  The best way to explain it would be Pikes Peak but on a smaller scale.  It takes place on numerous different dirt roads around Colorado.  Practices are held on Saturdays and races are held on Sundays.  It is nice to get a chance to break the car in prior to Pikes Peak and make changes if needed.”

Discount Tire:  What racing goals do you have for the future?

O’Maley:  “One of my racing goals is to win the Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class and set a new record.  I would also like to set records in the Super Sprint Class in the Colorado Hill Climb Association races.   Maybe one day I’ll start doing some other forms of racing too just to try it out and see how I do.”

Discount Tire: How long have you been working at Discount Tire and what do you like best about it?

O’Maley: “I have been working for Discount Tire since 2006.  I am currently a Assistant Manager at COS 02.  My favorite part about working at Discount Tire is meeting new people.  Discount Tire gives me the tools to genuinely help people out and I love that.   I get to interact with customers, hear their stories and offer them professional recommendations that fit their needs.  I have a lot of fun at work and that really makes me enjoy it.”

Rodney plans to be back on the mountain again next year as he strives to set a new record and take home a first place trophy.  If you’re a Pikes Peak fan and you’d like to meet him, stop into the Discount Tire (COS02) located at, 770 Abbott Lane Colorado Springs, CO 80905.

Thanks to Rodney, here’s an on car video of his 2013 Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class run.

 

Catch more 2013 PPIHC articles here: 

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photo Gallery

Interview with Pikes Peak Hill Climb Driver Doug Siddens Post 2013 Race

Pre-Race Interview with Pikes Peak Hill Climb Race Driver Doug Siddens

Pictures of Rodney and his Pikes Peak Open Wheel Class Race Car

Pikes Peak Hill Climb Open Wheel Driver Rodney O'MaleyIMG_0047IMG_9442 IMG_9702 IMG_9706 KF7B0425  IMG_0311 IMG_0399

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photos

2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photos – Discount Tire Image Gallery

The 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was one of the most exciting hill climb races to date.   Spectators came from all over the world to watch some of the best drivers race to the summit.   The race cars and bikes were hot, the fans were wild, and the drivers were aggressive.  One by one drivers were given the green flag.  In the end no fan was left disappointed.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb photos have been popping up everywhere and now here’s a sample of the action captured by Discount Tire during the event.

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Want to read more? Read these 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb articles:

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2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photo Gallery:

Pikes Peak Summit IMG_5777_1Pikes Peak Starting Line - Discount Tire Booth2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photo - Starting line06291315012013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photos - Doug Siddens RZRX1IMG_5881_1Pikes Peak Hill Climb Photos - Rodney O'Maley - Open Wheel Driver IMG_5905_1 Mike Ell Pikes Peak Race Driver 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Pictures - Drivers MeetingPPIHC video in the makingIMG_5951 IMG_6128 IMG_6125 IMG_6119 IMG_6110 IMG_6106 IMG_6105 IMG_6102 IMG_6097 IMG_6088 IMG_6081 IMG_6075 IMG_6073 IMG_6065 IMG_6051 IMG_6048 IMG_6026 IMG_6007 IMG_5971 IMG_5968 IMG_5966 IMG_5964 IMG_5960 IMG_6274 IMG_6241 IMG_6225_1 IMG_6224_1 2013 Doug Siddens - Unlimited PPIHC Driver IMG_6222_1 IMG_6221_1 IMG_6220_1 IMG_6219_1 IMG_6216 IMG_6181 IMG_6169 IMG_6140_1

 

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2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Inspires Innovation

Pikes Peak Summit - Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2013

View from the 14,110 foot Summit of Pike’s Peak

2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Inspires Innovation

Pikes Peak is a magnet for the curious and the adventurous, and it beckons thrill seekers of all kinds.  Its ascending 156 turns inspire racers to dream of sprinting up the mountain in their favorite vehicle.  Its 14,110 foot summit inspires others to scale its surface on foot.  And finally, its breathtaking views inspire families to ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top and back.   With a  completely paved road, Pikes Peak has also inspired a new level of competition and a new level of innovative vehicles for this year’s 91st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.  One of the drivers continuously inspired by the mountain is unlimited class driver Doug Siddens.

Pikes Peak International Hill climb - Doug Siddens

Doug Siddens rounds a corner near mile marker 1 in his RZR-X1 during the 2013 PPIHC Race

Pikes Peak Driver Doug Siddens Interview

Doug Siddens is no stranger to Pikes Peak.  The 2013 PPIHC race marked his 4th year competing.  With the course completely paved, Doug was determined to push the boundaries of his own innovation.  He completely rebuilt his vehicle in his own garage.  Originally a Polaris RZR 800, Pikes Peak inspired Doug to transform his UTV into the vehicle he calls the RZR-X1.  It is now a 400HP single-seater that resembles a competition F1 race car.   We met up with Doug Siddens after the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to get the scoop on his experience, and to hear more about how his home built RZR-X1 performed.  Here’s what he had to say.

Discount Tire: Can you give us a quick run down of the practice and events leading up to the 2013 PPIHC race?

Siddens:  Even though I started this year’s build back in December 2012 I still felt like I was a bit behind. I was able to do a brief test of the RZR-X1 at Harris Hill Raceway in San Marcos, TX, but it was mainly a shakedown run.  I actually loaded up the trailer and the race car early and I headed to Colorado Springs where my Crew Chief Kevin Colwell of KC Truck and Performance was waiting. We wrapped up the remaining tasks in order to pass tech inspection at his shop and did the remaining pre-race tests on Pikes Peak. 

Discount Tire: What did you discover during practice that needed to be addressed?

Siddens:  We actually started out with some engine issues. On the day of tech inspection the engine bent three valves as I was backing the car up into the trailer. So we scrambled around; Kevin and the guys tore into my spare engine and I ran to Denver to get some gaskets for the new top end of the engine. We still don’t know what caused this freak issue, but we pushed the RZR-X1 to tech and thankfully passed all their requirements. Needless to say, this is not how we had planned on starting race week. We also had a nagging fueling issue. There were several small things that could have lead to the issues, but we ended up chasing down some wiring faults.  We also replaced the fuel pump and cleaned all the connections. I’m still not certain exactly what fixed the issue, but by mid-week the problems were resolved and we were finally able to get in some solid practice sessions on the mountain.

Discount Tire:  Before the race, did you have a chance to meet any of your competitors?

Siddens:  I did and I was amazed at how well I was received.  Everyone seemed to really like the RZR-X1 and all the hard work that I put into it. Everyone there was a class act and it felt great to be on the same road as some of the best drivers in the world.

Discount Tire: What did the competition think about your home grown RZR-X1?

Siddens:  I think a lot of people respected the fact that I did it all myself. When you race and spend a lot of time around race cars you come to realize how much work they are. It was definitely a huge feat to take on everything and, still be able to have the car ready in time to finish on race day with a respectable time.

Discount Tire: On race day did you have any final preparations before the start?

Siddens:  One of the tough things about Pikes Peak is that there is no warm up or practice laps. Since it’s one way up and one way day down, the road is closed and your race car is finalized when you pull it out of the trailer. This is pretty nerve-wracking to a driver.  It would be nice to know if something is wrong with the car before you pull it up to the starting line so you could, at least have a chance to track down an issue before you begin.

Discount Tire: When the green flag was waved what were your first thoughts?

Siddens:  I have this ability to forget about everything that is going on around me as soon as I get behind the wheel. Leading up to the race I’m super nervous and antsy to get started.  Once I have my helmet on and I’m behind the wheel I go into a focused mode that is surprisingly calm. Thankfully this is the case, because at the starting line I had a fouled plug and the engine started to stumble when the green flag dropped. My normal out of the car thought process would have been to worry about it, but instead I put the hammer down and drove through it!

Discount Tire: After the start, can you briefly describe your 4th Pikes Peak run?

Siddens: The bottom third of the mountain was great! The car felt stable and I was pushing it hard. Towards the middle I started to notice that the course felt really slick and I had to drive hard to keep traction coming out of the corners. The rear end kept sliding out on me and while there were some beautiful drifts, I knew that this wasn’t fast.  As I came up to the Devil’s Playground area it started to feel like I was driving on marbles. At this point I was being very cautious of turning in too hard into the corners and I was making sure that I had the car straight before I put the power down coming out of the turns. Everything was going fine until Boulder Park where the rear end finally broke loose without warning and made the car spin out. Luckily I kept it on the road, backed up, put it into gear and gunned for a finish. At this point my only goal was to finish. My CVT belt was slipping and I had to baby it the last few miles just to make sure I rolled the car past those checkered flags. I finished with a time of 11:03.070.

Discount Tire: Tires play a big part in racing.  What version of Hankook tires did you end up running?

Siddens:  I wasn’t able to get my hands on a set of Hankook F200 slicks so  I decided to run the Hankook Ventus Z207 wets.  For one, they were a bit wider than the Ventus Z209 tires that I had and I was concerned about the possibility of rain towards the top of the mountain.  Rightfully so, it did rain and hail on race day, but I was lucky to finish right before it really started to come down.

Discount Tire:  You described the course as feeling like it was getting slipperier mile after mile.  This is a common feeling when tires start to overheat.  What do you think could have caused this?

Siddens:  The Z207 is a great tire but it probably wasn’t the best tire for my application.  I really under estimated how hard I was going to drive on race day and how much heat the tires were going to absorb turn after turn. One of the issues with Pikes Peak is that we never get a chance to run the full mountain until race day.   During practice we only run a quarter to a third of the mountain at a time and its very difficult to get back to back practice runs in with so many other drivers on the mountain as well.   The turbo charged Apex also puts out massive amount of thrust and with a power to weight ratio of about 1hp per 3lbs… (smiles)  Its not difficult to break any tire loose.  

Discount Tire:  After this years experience, what changes are in store for your tires?

Siddens: After driving the RZR-X1 to the complete limit I now know that we need to put as much rubber on the ground as possible.  Since the CVT clutch allows the engine to instantly spike to peak power at 11,000 rpms we are putting more stress on the tires than ever.  Hankook was a great partner this year and with a new vehicle, we learned a lot.  Hankook makes some excellent tires and we just need to find the one that will work best for this application.  I’m anxious to get my hands on a set of Hankook’s F200 competition slicks.  These are a true slick and they are available in some larger sizes that should really help put the power down to the pavement.

Discount Tire: Congratulations on finishing! Your time this year is very respectable especially considering you haven’t had as much seat time as you would have liked and you are driving a completely new vehicle.   When you started to spin out at the top did you fear going over the edge? 

Siddens:  I can live with knowing that there were outside factors that kept me from going faster or that caused the spin. It’s driver error that I never want to have. I left this race feeling like I drove as well as one could considering the conditions and issues. I have no regrets because I drove the car to its fullest and I left it all on the mountain. The spin didn’t even phase me. When the video comes out you can tell by my body language that I was doing everything I could to keep it on the road and wasn’t panicked at all. Thankfully I don’t panic in those situations because that’s what gets you into trouble.  🙂

Discount Tire: I’m sure you are already planning to make some improvements and changes for your next race.  Could you tell us what you have in mind?

Siddens:  I’m really excited to tweak the RZR-X1 and get it completely dialed in. I have some ideas for additional weight savings, improved suspension performance and increased horsepower. I’m also anxious to get more seat time and try out several different tire compounds. I know I have an insanely fast car, now I just need to spend the off-season getting the most out of it.

With another Pikes Peak race under his belt, Doug Siddens is even more excited and motivated to set a record on Pikes Peak.  His experience on the mountain each year has inspired him to push harder and harder for a win.

Links:

Shop for Hankook Tires

Shop for TSW wheels

(Missed our interview with Doug Siddens before the 2013 PPIHC race?  Catch it here: Home Grown Pikes Peak Race Driver Doug Siddens tells his Story

 

Interview: Home Grown Pikes Peak Race Driver Doug Siddens Tells His Story

Pike Peak Race - RZR-X1 - PPIHC - Doug Siddens

Interview: Pikes Peak Race Driver Doug Siddens

Home Grown Pikes Peak Race Driver Doug Siddens Tells His Story

Doug Siddens - PPIHC - Pikes Peak RaceWe had a chance to interview Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) driver Doug Siddens.  We asked him about his history as a racer, his history at the Pikes Peak race and we pushed him for some additional information about his new 2013 race car, the RZR-X1.  Doug will be competing in the unlimited class this month for the 2013 PPIHC.   Here’s what he had to say.

(Discount Tire):  How old were you when you started racing and what made you want to get into it?

Doug Siddens: I have been into cars and motorized vehicles since I can remember, but I really got bit by the racing bug in high school when I got my first car.  As soon as I started driving I knew I wanted to race.

(Discount Tire): What was the first vehicle and race that you competed in?

(Siddens): The first car I had that I raced was a 1999 Mustang GT.  I started out drag racing at the local strip and events.  A few years later I upgraded to a 2002 Corvette Z06 and participated in the Dust Ball Rally and was drag racing every chance I got.  My true love for drifting and off-road racing didn’t begin until I purchased my 2009 Polaris RZR-S.  As soon as I started driving the RZR-S I knew I had found my calling.  It was an affordable and flexible platform that didn’t need a specially prepped car or track to drive hard and feel the true driving spirit.

(Discount Tire): Can you tell us about your first racing win?

(Siddens): I would have to say my first win came in 2010 when I successfully became the first person to compete in a UTV and finish the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.  I grossly underestimated the magnitude of the race and had little to no racing experience at that level.  There I was on a mountain I had never been to with all my tools and a few parts in the back of my truck and pulling the RZR-S I had modified on my garage floor on a little open trailer.  Needless to say, it was pretty intimidating when I pulled up to full blow Pikes Peak race teams working out of the back of semi trucks loaded with every tool and part imaginable.  So after overcoming fear, sleep deprivation, starvation, blowing three engines and running a borrowed engine on race day, finishing the Pike Peak race against all odds has to be one of the biggest wins of my life. 

(Discount Tire):  What made you want to race in the Pikes Peak Race and why did you choose to race it in a UTV?

(Siddens): I saw a void in racing that had Powersport Classes, but hadn’t opened the race up to UTV’s yet.  Most people would probably choose a local off-road race or something on a smaller scale, but for some reason I decided to go right to the top (laughs). PPIHC is an invite only race for proven racers.  I didn’t have the traditional experience to be able to enter in any other way, but I was able to convince the Pike Peak race commission that UTV’s were the Powersport of the future and they allowed me to enter.  The rest is history.

(Discount Tire):  Can you tell us briefly about your last two races at Pikes Peak?

(Siddens): My Pikes Peak race experiences have been bittersweet.  I overcame a lot to finish the first year when I never thought I would and then the second year I thought there was no way I wasn’t going to finish and I overheated just a couple miles from the finish on race day. The second year was devastating and I came really close to not racing last year.  Being a privateer and pioneering this type of racing in the UTV world almost broke me.  It was everything I could do to afford this one race and after the DNF I didn’t know if I would be able to do it again.  Early in 2012 I rallied again and decided to make another attempt, and am I glad I did! I added aero to the car with front and rear carbon fiber wings and it made all the difference.  It really calmed the RZR-X down and allowed me to drive the car a lot harder than years prior.  It was also a lot harder on my stock RZR parts and I was real concerned with breaking on race day.  I got off a good clean run, took it easy in the turns and all the rest fell into place.  I was ecstatic to finish, but when everyone started running up to me asking if I knew what I had run I knew something was up.  I was shocked when they told me I had run 10:40.669!  I knew in my heart that the car was good for a ten minute time, but to actually do it on race day and on that big of a stage was epic!

(Discount Tire): What reaction did other drivers and Pikes Peak race fans have over your win last year?

(Siddens):  I think everyone was in shock. I know I was! Most of the racers would come by and take a look at the car and tell me that they liked it, but I don’t think anyone anticipated me going 9th overall. I think it was even more of a shock to the car classes because technically the PPIHC had classified me as a Powersport vehicle so all my practice sessions had been with the Motorcycles and ATV’s. So none of the cars had seen me run and all of a sudden there was my RZR-X high up on the list.

(Discount Tire): This year you have chosen to race in the most competitive class there is, the unlimited class.  What made you decided to leap into the unlimited class this year?

(Siddens):  After last years success I knew that there was still so much more in the RZR-X.  Even though I was able to break into the 10’s the RZR-X was super raw and could use tons of improvement to help make it go even faster.  I also felt like I needed to use the momentum I had built up from last years win and use that to get into the most visible class on the mountain – Unlimited!

(Discount Tire):  Your vehicle this year is far from what it was last year.  Could you tell us what it is and how it came to be?

(Siddens): After building the 2012 RZR-X I knew the shortcomings that it had and were I could improve it.  Once I was accepted into the Unlimited class I knew it was no holds barred.  So I started from the Polaris RZR frame up and tried to improve everything I could.  I also took this as an opportunity to build this car myself, in my garage, with help from my Uncle, some friends and some great sponsors.  I’m really excited about the combination of parts and I hope it’s the perfect balance to run a really quick time.

(Discount Tire):  We’re pleased be working with you on your tires and wheels but others may not know, what tires and wheels will you be running this year and why did you choose the ones you did?

(Siddens):  You guys have been awesome.  I can’t say enough about the help and support you guys have given me.  I decided to run a set of 18” TSW rotary forged Interlagos wheels wrapped in some super sticky Hankook tires.  I choose the TSW Interlagos RF because I needed a large diameter wheel to clear my RZR-X1’s new huge brake setup, yet still remain lightweight.  The rotary forged process that TSW uses allows me to run a strong 18” wheel without adding any additional rotational mass.  It also allows me to run a lower profile tire to help increase my vehicles response when cornering.  I chose Hankook tires because of their experience at the Peak and their selection of competition tires.  I’m not running a typical tire diameter because of my CVT clutch system and Hankook offered a nice range of slick and wet tires that fit my ideal setup.

(Discount Tire): With the entire track now paved, do you think this will make it easier or harder to get a win?

(Siddens): It certainly has its pluses and minuses, but I do enjoy the pavement more than I thought I would. I consider myself fortunate to have raced the race when there was dirt, but I am embracing the change and the pavement has been good to me so far. I think this years RZR-X1 will have a really good shot at a win and I look forward to carving up the pavement all the way up to the top!

 

With the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb only weeks away, Siddens is buckling down and making some final installations on his vehicle.  He hopes to start testing within the next few days.  His 2013 unlimited class race car, the RZR-X1,  hasn’t been revealed yet but we were able to squeeze a few teaser pics out of him.  For more information on Doug Siddens and the Pikes Peak Race please visit the official Pike Peak International Hill Climb website as well as the links below.

Pictures of Doug Siddens Pikes Peak race car – RZR-X1

RZR-X1 Pike Peak Race Car - Doug SiddensRZR-X1 Build - Buildind a Pike Peak Race CarRZR-X1 Body partsRZR-X1 TSW Wheels

Hankook Race Tires - Pikes Peak RaceRZR Build - TSW Interlagos RF Wheels - Hankook Competition Tires

RZR-X1 Build header

RZR-X1 wheel and Tire mountedRZR-X1 Pike Peak Race Car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 RZR_X1pic2 RZR_X1pic3 RZR_X1pic

 

RZR-X1 Build thread – Building a Pikes Peak Unlimited Race Car

Doug Siddens – Fox Shocks UTV Race Team Driver Profile

Jalopnik Article: How an Amateur Racer Tackled Pikes Peak In a UTV