Preparing the Hulk Evo for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
14,115 feet to the top on a 12.42-mile course consisting of 156 turns. That’s what stands between Roy Narvaez and the summit of the 100th anniversary of the 2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. We were able to catch up with Roy a week before his trip to Colorado and get some insight on how his “Hulk Evo 8” came to be as he prepared for the modified production class (Class 1) of the time attack.
When Roy first started to get into racing back in 1999 he became aware of the Pikes Peak challenge and said to himself “I’d like to conquer that mountain”. At the time, it wasn’t feasible for his budget nor did he possess a car to build for the challenge. None the less, he saw articles and photos on the internet and it kept him intrigued.
Fast forward to 2014 and Roy takes a trip with Robert Garcia, a mechanic at Road Racing Engineering (RRE) up to Pikes Peak to spectate and during their trip the two jokingly talked about building a car to compete. Well Robert was joking, but Roy, he took it seriously. When he returned from the trip, he talked to Mike Welch, the owner of RRE. Lucky enough, Mike had a salvaged 2004 Evo 8 available if he was up for the challenge. Next thing you know, little by little with the help of the RRE staff, the car was stripped for weight reduction down to the chassis. Mike and Robert did body work to remove the damaged trunk area, but no one took the build serious till 2.5-months out from the 2015 challenge. High gear kicked in and JEM FX Motorsports built the roll cage and installed it at RRE. At a month out, the team realized they were way behind the build timeline and everyone, but there was still hope and determination. Roy reached out to Brandon Owens-Nilo to run oil lines for the dry sump, while he contacted some former RRE employees and friends to put in some of that the midnight oil. Queue the time-lapse montage and you'll find that here were at least three people working on the car at any given moment. The day prior to departure for Pikes Peak, Bau Brown tuned the car for its first time. You couldn't script it any better.
The car gets loaded and the team heads out to Pikes Peak, but the crew hits another road block when the hauling truck overheats, leaving the crew with a partially completed Evo 8 stranded on the side of the road in Utah with no windshield, no hood, no aero and no seatbelts. Despite the lack of cell phone reception, 100-degree temperature and no motorists to assist, Roy made a decision to throw on his helmet and drive 10 miles north to get reception, where he was able to call AAA for assistance. AAA shows up to the rescue and the crew finds themselves in the parking lot of the local Home Depot. The crew pulled a “MacGyver” by dropping the radiator from the truck and fixed it with epoxy. They installed most of the missing parts but unfortunately don’t get to Pikes Peak in time for tech inspection. Fortunately, Roy befriended the tech inspectors and was able to get the Hulk inspected at a shop the day before practice without aero.
Right after inspection, the team was able to install the APR Performance wide body kit, GT-1000 Dual Element adjustable wing, front splitter and canards. After all of the trials the team faced, Mother Nature kicked in and brought hail, rain and snow to the peak. Just as the race officials were getting ready to cancel the entire event, the sun came out and the officials decided to open the first portion of the hill.
Roy got his taste of the challenge, and just like how the Hulk thinks he’s unstoppable, Roy set his eyes on the centennial 2016 Pikes Peak Hill Climb and continued to build as every team does. At the time of shooting these photos, Roy had lightened the car, added more aero and swapped out the old suspension for an upgraded Ohlins set.
When asked what his goal was for 2016, Roy stated, “I’m not looking for a certain number or time. I just want to make it to the top of the mountain and be able to say I finally conquered the mountain with the ambition to compete yearly as long as I can."
Take aways from his 2015 experience? Roy talked about the safety aspect of it. He talked about the passing of Carl Sorensen when he lost control of his motorcycle, which was a tragic loss for the community and the 2012 roll over of Jeremy Foley’s Evo. Even with the risks, each driver knows what they’re taking on and assume the challenge because they’re pursuing something they truly love. Roy also mentioned the toll the altitude takes on engine power and individual stamina. Up to 50% of the power output is lost by the time a driver makes it to the summit and the driver’s slower reaction times along with labored breathing are noticed. Things city folks like us don’t fare well with coming from the sea level.
Experience an exclusive 360 Virtual Reality ride along with Roy through some thrilling canyons roads, click here for the Hulk Evo 8 360 VR Video.
Update: A few days into the 2016 event, I see a crazy photo on Facebook of the Hulk perpendicular to the ground caught in midair and found out Roy had crashed the Hulk during a qualifying run. The accident was severe enough where it rendered the car unable to qualify, but he walked away unscathed. We’re glad he's OK!
Here’s a video provided by Roy from his cockpit view during his vehicle accident at Pikes Peak 2016 during qualifying. You’ll see how lucky he is after you see the vertical shot of the accident from a photographers viewpoint and understand the magnitude of his accident.
Vehicle: 2004 Mitsubishi Evo 8
Owner: Roy Narvaez
Builder: Road Race Engineering and team
Engine: 600whp 2.3L 4G63 motor; Garrett GTX-3582 turbo; CP-Carillo pistons and rods
Aero: APR wide body kit, canards, front splitter and hood
Wheels: RAYS/Volk TE-37
Drivetrain: Exedy Dual clutch
Suspension: Whiteline suspension products
Exterior: “Hulk” wrap by Wraptilian
Interior: JEM FX Motorsports roll cage, custom painted by Mike Welch at RRE
Special Thanks: Lucas Oil products and Rehv clothing