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Two Days On The Road: Polish Mountain Puts Up A Fight, Then Gives In.

FLINTSTONE, MD - Seventy-five SCCA competitors made their way into the pastoral Gilpin Road paddock for the fourth annual Polish Mountain Hill Climb - anticipating picture postcard weather and a weekend of spirited time trials. 

It’s very unlikely they expected that the Mountain would wreak such mayhem on equipment before lunch break on Saturday.  And, having been so sternly warned, even fewer of the survivors probably expected that Sunday would yield 23 hill records and such an exciting late day duel for 2010 King Of The Hill.

With a pre-registration of 60 racers, organizers glowed at the sight of 15 drive-up entrants, a tradition among familiar stalwarts of the long-running Pennsylvania Hill Climb Association.  Friday night took on a celebratory tone as the Flintstone Volunteer Department hosted a growing cruise-in and registration party about a mile from the paddock.  On the mountain, clear high skies and temps in the high 50’s encouraged an evening of cordial conversation and campsite hospitality – highlighted by the clambake at Club Danko’s home-away-from-home hospitality compound.

Saturday operations deployed a bit unevenly as a team of Blue Mountain Region, Steel Cities Region and National Road Autosport personnel blended their timing, communications and safety assets for a fourth go at the Mountain.  Everything quickly took a back seat to the early morning mayhem that ensued once competition began.

In the early going, Polish Mountain’s benign history of clean racing and limited excursions reversed dramatically, swallowing up an SSM Porsche 993 and an SM Camaro between turns 4 and 5 and sending both cars home on trailers. Two more cars would be towed off the hill before the day was done.   Three-time FTD winner George Bowland soon parked his overall hill record holding AM machine with throttle linkage problems.  Overall leaders at the end of the day were Kurt Eikenberg’s DSR Prince and Jeremy Deitzel’s other-worldly SM Evo 8, the only two cars under 57 seconds for the first day.

Sunday dawned anew, however, and the remaining competitors began an assault under ideal conditions that established new hill records in 23 classes.   By day’s end, three local drivers – 5th overall finisher Matt Felten (FC Reynard), Bob Lewis (AS Camaro) and Steve Wilson (ASP Porsche) – each lowered their own hill record times in class.  

Pennsylvania based Street Mod class rocket Deitzel lowered his class record to 56.510, finishing an amazing fourth overall in a street legal production car.  PHA favorite Morgan Wilson also excelled, nipping a long-standing S2 Class record in his vintage Beach FV on this last pass of the day.

The day ended with a dramatic FTD showdown between two sports racers and the fire breathing AAR Eagle of Darryl Danko, holder of many hill records around the PHA circuit.  As competition drew to a close, Brian Fritzler’s CSR, Kurt Eikenberg’s DSR and Danko’s Eagle were perched west of the starters tent nose-to-tail, separated by only 1/10th of a second, with Danko last in line, but in the driver’s seat for FTD.

Fritzler rolled out, scorched the day’s first lap under 55 seconds, claimed the lead at 54.826 and promptly parked in the paddock.  The soft-spoken driver calmly declared that he and the mountain had come to an agreement that he would not attempt to go any faster today.  Eikenberg rolled out for one last try, but the pitch of his Prince’s engine was off song before he was out of earshot from the start, undone by a sagging battery charge and he could not better his 55.075.

It was down to Danko.  He stormed out of sight in a haze of blue smoke and chest compressing motive commotion. In only his fifth complete career pass at Polish Mountain, the Reading PA standout screamed his Eagle to a 54.250 second FTD.

Special thanks from National Road Autosports go out to Pennsylvania Hill Climb Association, Blue Mountain Region SCCA and Steel Cities Region SCCA volunteers and the Flintstone Volunteer Fire Department.  Sponsorship support was provided by Miller Lite, Potomac Farms,, Belt Paving, Teter Landscaping, American Rent-All, AC&T, Furlows and Boggs Supply.

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FAST FRITZLER – Brian Fritzler’s CSR was “oh so close” to FTD, taking the overall lead late on Sunday and lowering the bar on his last run.

QUICK KURT – Third place Kurt Eikenberg drove his Prince to the Saturday overall lead and was within 1/10 of FTD with one rotation remaining on Sunday.

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