Throwback Thursday: Record-Breaking Run Up Pikes Peak In A Bronco

As most know, the Ford Bronco was built with the ability to handle rough off-road terrain, not necessarily to be a time attack vehicle up one of America’s most treacherous roads. However, give a racer or gearhead a few minutes of your time and you’ll soon realize, what one item was built for and what it ends up being used for, can be two vastly different things. This Ford Bronco driven by Leonard Vahsholtz at Pikes Peak is the prime example of a racers’ thoughts coming to fruition.

If the last name Vahsholtz rings a bell, then you might already be a fan of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and remember him breaking the stock car and truck record in 1993. In 1994, he showcased a new build utilizing the Ford Bronco. Although the Bronco shares similar suspension to the older F-150, the new combination shaved just under 11-seconds off his record breaking run the previous year. Mind you, this was when Pikes Peak was still unpaved and the top sections resembled a slightly groomed rallycross section versus the now paved surface.

Pikes Peak

If you’ve never driven up Pikes Peak, then the video does not do justice to the steepness found on each side of the road, nor how tight the switchbacks are. Watching Vahsholtz pitch the full-size Bronco into a corner, drift through the apex, and finally accelerate out, is like watching art in motion. While the majority of us might celebrate a win at the finish line, Vahsholtz was known for jumping out of the vehicle after the finish line and making a run for the helicopter to compete in a separate class. Pikes Peak has since mandated that all racers can only race in one class, so any multi-class records set by Vahsholtz will stand for a very long time.

All in all, Vahsholtz raced for 32 years in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with 18 class wins before he retired in 2008. His son and grandson has now followed in the same footsteps at Pikes Peak. If you are ever looking for motivation to complete a build in a completely different fashion than its original intended purpose, then remember someone a few decades ago decided that a Ford Bronco racing up Pikes Peak was a fantastic idea, and they were far from wrong!

About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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