Pikes Peak Native, Race Veteran And Current Open Class Champion Readies For His 28th Race To The Clouds
Driving The Pikes Peak Hill Climb Runs In The Layne Family
MONTGOMERY, AL – Layne Schrantz is putting the final touches on the race car in his shop in Birmingham, Alabama, before leaving for Pikes Peak, Colorado. Schranz has lived in Alabama for two decades but is a Colorado native, and as it would turn out, Schranz is not just your run of the mill race car driver. He’s a pikes peak hillclimb veteran and the 2020 Pikes Peak Open Class Champion.
“I’ve raced in the hill climb 27 years. This year is the 99th running of the race. It will be my 28th time racing myself, and I started racing this car right here in 1999, so this will be my 22nd year racing this car.” says Schranz. Pikes Peak is not just another race for Schranz. It’s in his blood. Layne was born in Colorado Springs at the base of Pikes Peak. When he was two years old his father, Randy Schranz began racing at Pikes Peak. Randy Schranz holds multiple records at Pikes Peak, “My dad holds the record at 40 times racing pikes peak. No one else has raced it more than him, so I just grew up wanting to be like my dad wanting to race a car up Pikes Peak.”
Layne made his first run up the hill in 1993, the hill climb is grueling test of man and machine. The track is a two lane public toll road thats closed on race day. The course is 12 and half miles,
ascends nearly a mile into the atmosphere, and has 156 turns, many of which border cliffs. Snow and high winds are possible year round. “It’s extremely important to have the road course memorized, all 156 corners memorized before you race” Schranz explains.
What may be the toughest challenge on Pikes Peak is the elevation change. The race begins at 9,300 feet above sea level, and the finish line is at 14,115 feet above sea level – that’s nearly a mile in elevation change . “Its extremely challenging because no corner is like another corner, and the altitude and weather create challengers and problems every time we race.” The extreme elevation change is a nightmare for mechanics. In race cars, more air equals more power, but at 14 thousand feet, air is thin. Schranz and his team work around this problem, with a purpose built car. The car is listed as a 2016 Chevy SS, the body styling of the car is much like a NASCAR, but it only resembles a Chevy at the surface. “It’s just in shape. Our car is uniquely built, just for Pikes Peak. Our car doesn’t race at any other race course other than Pikes Peak,” says Layne.
A small block , twin turbocharged, all aluminum motor powers the car. Schranz estimates about 1200 horspower from the methonal powered engine , “Before we had turbos on the car, it was a challenge with a carb to try to figure out the jetting and the oxygen and the fuel mixture. The turbos help make up for the lack of oxygen on Pikes Peak. It’s so high that trees can’t grow on the top of the mountain.” Independent rear suspension, a beefed up roll cage, oversized brakes and an oxygen delivery system round out the exotic hill climber.
About a dozen people are on the Schranz’s crew. They’re the defending champions in the Open Class at Pikes Peak, and hoping to bring home another championship trophy in 2021 – “We’re definitely competing to win. We won last year in the 2020 race, so we’re trying to defend our title in the Pikes Peak Open Division. It’s going to be very tough. We have a few new competitors coming to join some already great competitors, so we have our work cut out for us.”
You can watch Pikes Peak right here on our Pikes Peak page and in our mobile app, with coverage starting at 9 EST/8 C/7 MDT Sunday, June 27th.