On June 26, 2011, Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins set a new record on the famed Mount Washington Hillclimb. With a time of 6 minutes and 11.54 seconds, he was nearly 30 seconds faster than Frank Sprongl’s previous record set in 1998.
British-driver Higgins also wanted to beat the unofficial record of 6:20.47 set by Travis Pastrana in another Subaru during 2010 when he did a promotional run to bring attention to the reinstated hillclimb.
Higgins did the run without a co-driver and in difficult conditions in his Vermont SportsCar-prepared Subaru WRX STi rally car equipped with BFGoodrich RC01 Rally tires.
True to its reputation, the poor weather dominated the practice days on Friday and Saturday. With intermittent rain showers and fog, the field of almost 70 competitors (in the four race classes), was limited to the lower half of the course on the first two days.
Fortunately, the weather held off long enough on Sunday for competitors to get in two timed runs on the partially paved course before its was engulfed in fog again.
"It was a big challenge because the road was still wet in places and would suddenly turn very slick. With the clouds coming in, visibility was so low I could hardly see past the hood of my car," explained Higgins. "Our Subaru is setup perfectly for a road like this, but I’ve never raced here before and it was a lot of work to try to learn the course. It's fantastic to have the record at such a prestigious event."
Given the right conditions, Higgins is confident he could complete the course in less than 6 minutes, hoping to return next year to prove his point.
Higgins was the last competitor to race on the day, building the anticipation for a new record among the fans in attendance. On his first attempt, Higgins was able to surpass the record by more than 20 seconds. He then beat his first time by an additional 8 seconds on his second attempt, cementing his place in the record books.
First opened in 1861 as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, the road claimed to be the country's oldest man-made attraction. The 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road is one of the ultimate challenges for drivers. The serpentine tarmac and gravel road is lined with trees and dramatic drop-offs as it winds its way to the 6288ft summit of the Northeast's tallest peak.