It was a short night for the most of us, but that didn’t matter, it was Sunday, June 25th, race day and all the time and effort lead up to this day. Since it was race day, we had to be at the gates a bit earlier. Six of us were the first ones of our troop up there, waiting at the gates at 1.45 A.M. The rest came an hour or so later to receive a bit of extra beauty sleep. We got into our spot, unloaded what we had to, and had a few hours before it was time to get down to business. Thilo had priority getting some sleep in the warm sprinter, the rest of us knocked back coffees and talked to other teams anxiously waiting for the sun to come up. At around 6 a.m. everyone gathered together for the national anthem as well as a prayer to wish all the racers success and safety. All the Germans marveled at the concept of both of these things, claiming this would never happen back home.
Soon after we rolled the bike and everything else we needed into our pit area and the tire warmers came on. Thilo was getting in the zone.
Thilo, starting #10, was coincidentally the tenth rider to go up, and luckily also to see how the others started off to get tips for efficiency. With two-minute intervals between each rider, it was time to race, all the effort came down to these 10 minutes of racing up to 14,000 feet. Thilo revved up the RaceR, and when the light turned green he was off. He got a good start, blazed away around the first curve and he was going, going – gone, only to leave us to hear the sound of the exhaust and engine from the distance.
Once Thilo had charged off, there wasn’t much for the rest of us to do but hope he does well. Some of the crew went back to the sprinter to relax while the rest of us stayed to watch the rest of the bikes start off. Once the bikes were all done it was time for the cars to race, and that was a show as well. Many awesome modified race cars and custom cars were exciting to watch blast off the starting line. With only one road up the mountain, all racers, including the motorcycles were all to stay up on top of the mountain until everyone had their turn to race and the race was officially over.
It was a long, cold wait at the top of the mountain and at times it actually hailed while Thilo was up there. Luckily all racers had warm clothing and shelter for the period of waiting. Thilo’s ultimate goal of the race had been to clock in at under 11 minutes, and he achieved it with a time of 10.50, which brought him immense happiness. Thilo placed 10th overall and 5th in his heavyweight class, a success for Team Wunderlich and everyone involved.
Once all the race entrants had completed their trek up the mountain, all of the participants came down the mountain in a convoy, led by the motorcycles. Thilo came down with a German flag worn as a cape, did a burnout with smoke going everywhere, and Sven and another crew member dumped a cooler of ice water serving as a celebration. Everyone on the crew was ecstatic, but it wasn’t just us, everyone in the area was excited of all the commotion and the entire road was filled with enormous energy. Watch a cool German video of the Race Day here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLwJeDYBN1E The entire crew congratulated Thilo and we all had a good chit chat before loading up and heading down. The lovely RaceR was put back, and we all went down back to the RV park to make our next move. We got back to camp, and we all got ourselves ready to go eat as a celebration. The lack of sleep combined with the excitement earlier caught up to most of us, and we’re all pretty tired. We had a great dinner with beer and good times all around. Plans to do the race next year was a hot topic, and Mr. Wunderlich himself was completely on board as well. Watch Thilo Günther’s full race up the hill here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDHpBSXN3zc&t=100s There were aspects in general to improve upon, and next year those issues can be taken care of with the new experience we had. It was great to have us all together, because it would be the last time we would be together as a group for the trip. It was an excellent way to end the race week, and a grand way , of course, to end the memorable 2017 Pikes Peak Hillclimb race day.