Saab 9-2X

Gunnar Conrad
Saab 9-2X
0501 Saab 92x 05

We prepared our cars by pumping as much as 44 pounds into the front tires to keep the sidewalls under the rims and by removing the spares to minimize weight. Because of the altitude, some people rejetted their carburetors to lean out the mixture. Meanwhile, to give us a clear shot, civilian traffic was held up at both ends of the course for each run group's attempts. At the starting line, course workers chocked the left rear wheels, allowing a launch without rolling back. Before my first whack at it, I sat and studied the course map and repented of those furtive visits to certain Web sites. Sweat trickled between my toes. When the green flag waved, my zinc-plated concentration seemed to stop time. The engine made its ebullitions, I gave the gear lever a downward fillip, the engine made like Koko Taylor, and I groped past the straw bales by the cattle guard, past the hand-painted braking markers, past the orange cones revealing an approaching turn. Three or four times, the rear end lightened as if to come around. When I finished and pulled into my pit, trembling fingers impeded the removal of gloves and helmet. But when the trembling stopped, euphoria lingered.

"The adrenaline rush is like nothing else," said twenty-year-old Crystal Fitts, the Boise State University freshman named Queen of the Hill for her brilliant 1:36.896 (74 mph) in a wicked Over Street Prepared, Over 2.5-Liter 1988 BMW 3-series. This was only her second hill-climb. "My mother hates the fact that I'm doing this," she continued. "The corners left me shaking at the end. I kept telling myself I knew I could hold the gas in. It was the best feeling ever."

King of the Hill Max Dufford, in a 1997 BMW M3 that he called "lightly modified" for Street Mod, lowered his own course record by 0.380 second, to 1:30.037 (80 mph). Dufford achieved all four attempts within 0.682 second. "Teton plays to my strengths-momentum, clean line, and only three and a half corners you can't take flat out." he said. "It all comes down to turn 6 into 7, where it's seconds or shrinkage."

Rain on Sunday afternoon chased us off the hill and also prevented Teton Valley farmers from finishing in their barley fields. We all went home thinking this is the greatest sport and cars are inestimably wonderful. We all went home with new friends, e-mail addresses, and invitations to visit in Salt Lake City and to fish the Snake River. We all drove our cars home; no one went to the hospital.

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