Savannah Rickli and her MINI at Pikes Peak Hill Climb - Mini Mania Inc.

Savannah Rickli sets a record at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Savannah Rickli, a 16 year old high school senior from Littleton, Colorado, made history on Sunday June 27th, 2010 when she became the youngest finisher in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb during the 88th running of the event. The PPIHC is the second oldest race in the United States; only the Indy 500 has run more races. Rickli was also awarded the honor of being named Rookie of the Race, a tremendous achievement.

Savannah relied on Rebecca Greek as co-driver in their 2003 Mini Cooper S, powered by Mini of Loveland, fabricated and engineered by Built-By-Bones, with race preparation and race support by SCR Performance. The finishing time of 13:58 was good enough for 3rd in the Time Attack 2Wheel Drive class.

Savannah and Rebecca were fortunate to encounter favorable conditions on their run up one of Colorado’s most scenic peaks, and were the crowd favorites, with the cheering often overcoming the exhaust tone of the Mini Cooper S. Savannah has been attending as a child of loyal hill climb workers, parents Neil and Carol, for the last 12 years. She worked in race control in 2008 and 2009.

“To be a driver in the most famous race in Colorado, the most famous Hill Climb in the world, along drivers who I idolize, is very humbling. Everyone involved with the event has been so supportive, and the fans are amazing” said Rickli. She admitted to be in tears during the overwhelming fan support shown as the cars made the way downhill after the race. Rickli and Greek celebrated with their team by spraying (age appropriate) sparkling apple cider, and champagne, over the mud caked race car. Grant Barclay, one of Savannah’s management team, and car owner of the record setting Mini Cooper S, was quoted as saying “ many successful American racers have competed in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb during their careers, racers like the Unser family (Savannah displaced Al Unser Jnr as the youngest finisher), the Andretti’s, the Vascholtz’s, and many others. We hope we can steer Savannah on a path to success similar to those racers, and we intend returning to the PPIHC in years to come to support this great event. When I grew up as a track rat in South Africa, I heard about this mountain and this event. Never could I imagine I could come here as a rookie car owner, and see such great success. The entire team deserves congratulations.”

Savannah and Rebecca both appreciate the history of this famed event, and named the Mini Cooper S race car “Michelle” in honor of Michelle Mouton, a famed French rally driver who tackled the hill climb during the 1980’s as part of the record setting Audi team. Not only is Savannah Rickli, the youngest finisher in the 88 history of the event at 16 years and 11 months, but she also becomes the youngest female to start, and to finish the race.

Phil Leyton, long time race director of the PPIHC granted Savannah the exemption required by all drivers younger than 18 years old. Mr. Leyton was quoted as saying “ the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb directors believe that Savannah represents a whole new generation of racer who will be competing in the race for years to come”. With ongoing paving of the racecourse scheduled to be completed by 2012, the focus is already changing to racecars more suited to road racing. Rhys Millen in his Hyundai based sports proto-type, and Jeff Zwart in the Porsche Carrera Cup car, are experienced hill climb racers who brought new cars to the event this year.

Congratulations are due to Jeff Zwart in his Porsche GT3 Cup car as he destroyed the course record in the Time Attack 2WD class, well done. Jeff admitted he really enjoyed his return to Pikes Peak after a few years of not competing. He did comment, “ I realized on Sunday morning that I was under some pressure to finish today. The Mini of Loveland team have been playing up the Porsche versus Mini rivalry, and they would have given me a really hard time if they had beaten us” Jeff was referring to the recent tongue in cheek rivalry between the two companies, Mini having challenged Porsche to a race around Road Atlanta earlier in the month.

Savannah Rickli will not be resting for too long before returning to racing this season. She will be racing the Powered by Mini of Loveland Cooper S at several SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) events in Colorado during the remainder of the 2010 race season, as she works toward her SCCA National License. Savannah’s goal is to progress into professional Touring and Sports Car racing within the next few years. Ultimately Savannah would like to race in the United States’ oldest motor race, the Indy 500.

Savannah and Rebecca thank all their sponsors, motor sport management, supporters,crew, friends and family. “the support shown by the entire motor sport community in Colorado and beyond has just been amazing” Rickli was quoted as saying during her acceptance of the Rookie of the Year award. Rickli intends returning to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2011, and will remain loyal to the Mini brand for 2011 at least. Mark Baer, team principal, and one of Savannah’s management team said “Savannah has proven today that she has the skills and determination to race up this incredible mountain successfully. We hope , as her managers, to be able to attract enough sponsor interest to return to Pikes Peak in 2011, in an improved version of our current Mini Cooper. It would be ideal if we could convince Mini USA to let us race the upcoming Mini Coupe (the sporty 2 seat Mini Cooper scheduled for a 2011 release) or even the Mini Countryman (a 4WD version of the popular Mini)” “perhaps we can even give Porsche a better race next year” said Baer laughing.

Savannah and her record setting Mini Cooper S will be appearing at the Mini in the Mountains event, based in Winter Park, August 12-15, and also the concurrent Mini takes the States in Denver Aug 14/15. Catch her and her race car as part of the Mini

of Loveland display at these events, she will be available for fan photos and signing autographs at both events.

Follow Savannah on Facebook – become a fan , click on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb link