Updated: June 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm
This year will mark Paul Dallenbach's 21st time racing up Pikes Peak. He's won on all surfaces of the course: all-dirt, mix of dirt and pavement and all-pavement. He's driven in four different vehicle classes and has seven class wins and three overall wins. He knows the course forwards and backwards.
"I could draw it out in my sleep," Dallenbach said. "You could close my eyes and drop me out of a helicopter and I would know exactly where I'm at."
But this year things are different at The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. He's racing a car he's never taken to the top before, the Dallenbach Special.
A bright blue 2008 PVA 3, the Dallenbach Special is more than a car, it's a family legacy. Paul's brother Wally Jr. won the Hill Climb while racing the Dallenbach Special in 2006, and his nephew Wyatt earned third driving it in 2012.
"It's been in the family, it's traveled around and I decided that I want to give it a try," Dallenbach said. "It's one of those cars that I'm sentimental about and every time I think about selling it, I can't. I just can't replace it. So I think I'll keep it."
The traveling car, which is also featured on the video game "Dirt 2," may be bringing Dallenbach some good luck.
Racing in the Open Wheel division after winning a Time Attack last year, he set the fastest time in the class during Thursday's practice runs at 4 minutes, 2 seconds.
Right behind him was 2013 Open Wheel champion and 17-time winner Clint Vahsholtz, who had a time of 4 minutes, 13.959 seconds. Both well-known and experienced on Pikes Peak, Dallenbach and Vahsholtz have surprisingly never faced off.
"His legacy up here is huge and that is what is really making this fun," Dallenbach said. "We've always been in different divisions and now we are finally coming together and it's fun pushing each other. I know that we are looking at each other's times and wondering."
Fellow Open Wheel driver Donner Billingsley counts Dallenbach and Vahsholtz as the two drivers he'll never stand a chance to beat unless they have mechanical issues.
"Those guys are legends," he said. "They're way fast, and I usually can't out drive them."
Although Dallenbach is happy with his practice runs, he's already thinking ahead to improvements for next year.
"We'll do a bigger motor next year," he said. "Your wheels are always spinning on how to make the car better."
No matter what technical adjustments the Dallenbach Special undergoes, one thing is definite, it will return to the Hill Climb. "Whether I drive it, or my brother, or my nephew, that car will be up here. I'll probably drive it," he laughed. "I don't want to be selfish but at the same time, I'm having fun."