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