Behind The Wheel – With Randy Pobst

Colorado Springs, CO – On June 25 seventy drivers from around the globe will line up to make their assault on the 14,115′ summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. The world-renowned Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo, moves into its second century this summer. Returning in the Exhibition division, Randy Pobst (Atlanta, GA) will strap in behind the wheel of his 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid, nicknamed “Dark Helmet” in the Exhibition division.

“It was an honor for me to be a part of last year’s 100th running of the Hill Climb, making history in a competition that spans virtually the entire time since the invention of automobiles on this planet,” shared Pobst as he looked back on his 2022 effort. “I felt part of a wonderful, exciting, and inspirational era of human endeavor.” Pobst was among the Fast 15 qualifiers. On Race Day he piloted the Tesla Model S Plaid to the top in 11:24.604, finishing fourth in the Exhibition division.

Reflecting further on 2022’s milestone race, Pobst remarked, “Last year’s run was one of weather concerns and the choices that go with that. Race day looked very wet and even snowy. No problem, I thought, because we had terrific super-soft Yokohama racing rain tires that were perfect for the damp conditions.”

He continued, “It was so foggy the start was delayed, and in racing, vision is number one in wet conditions, but I didn’t worry, my U.P. Plaid has a factory defroster and power windows. Comfort, I tell ya. Well we shussed off the line full speed, confident in the wet, running great and leading until just below Devils Playground, when it got so much colder that the windshield started to fog up…and I didn’t know how to turn it up! My crew guy always set it for me, ugh, I was blinded! I even loosened my belts in a vain effort to wipe the screen with my gloves but couldn’t quite reach. Next, I rolled down all four windows, hoping that might clear it up. No effect. Plus, that anti-fog we’d applied just-in-case? A new crewman thought it looked smeared and cleaned it off, ugh. Just tryin’ to help.”

Pobst began his racing career on Pikes Peak in 1995 racing a BMW in the IMSA group. That happened to be the first recorded year the course had to be shortened – before the race even started – due to a crazy snowstorm that blanketed the mountain the night before and continued into race day. He finished the course in fourth place.

In 2012 Pobst entered a 2001 Audi A4 in the Time Attack division, but withdrew due to a crash during practice leading up to the race.

In 2015 Pobst was back on Pikes Peak in the Time Attack 2 class, this time in a 2009 Nissan GTR, but once again, the mountain dictated he would not make it to the top.

2020 – a new decade and a new vehicle – Pobst embraced the future and competed in a Tesla in the Exhibition division. Following a spectacular crash just past the Bottomless Pit wall during a mid-week practice session, his crew took on the monumental task of taking wrecked to race-ready. Their effort was rewarded when Pobst made the trip from Start Line to Summit in 11:04.131, claiming a second place trophy.

Pobst must have experienced a sense of deja vu when he arrived on the mountain in 2021 to adverse weather and the announcement that drivers would race only to the 16 Mile marker – a repeat of his first race in 1995. Undeterred, Pobst laid down the fastest Exhibition division time on the shortened course in his 2021 Tesla S Plaid and stood atop the podium.

Pobst praised his team, sponsors and partners for the upcoming 2023 effort, “I’m driving for the fourth year in a row for Unplugged Performance, a Tesla tuner from the LA area, in a Tesla Model S Plaid, the fastest-accelerating production car ever. I’m just the lucky adventurer who gets to drive. The Unplugged Performance team does all the hard work, and I get to have the most fun. We run Yokohama racing slicks, and many upgraded parts available through like the huge carbon brake package and the extra-wide carbon bodywork. Without the partnership of team and sponsors, we could not be here with this wild electric machine.” Pobst quipped, “How fast can we go in the Unplugged Performance 1020 hp electric Tesla Plaid? Well, with Yokohama race tires and Unplugged handling and brakes, I certainly hope to get under ten minutes. If everything is perfect, a 09:30 would be the Holy Grail time. But our best chances for a win are still if it rains. Between me, the tires, and the AWD electric torque in cooler running conditions…stand back, folks, we are going Unplugged…and you KNOW I learned how to adjust that defroster for myself!”

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