Editor’s note: Colorado native Tommy Boileau will be competing in his first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb later this year. This blog is the second of a series detailing Tommy’s journey to—and up—the mountain.
As we all know, there is no such thing as an easy path to success, especially in the racing world. My last blog post dug into my rich racing history, and what it truly means to me to be competing in such a historic event that I have cherished ever since my childhood. But now it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
At this point I should have been hitting the gym and driving my shifter kart and simulator religiously in order to prepare myself mentally and physically for the incredible challenge that is the 2019 Race to the Clouds. But…I had one minor setback. Shortly after my last blog I was playing in my men’s league hockey tournament and after a dirty check from another player I fractured my left wrist, certainly not ideal for driving. In my head I had prepared for the worst, I saw the whole thing going up in flames as I was now destined to be a bystander on the sidelines with a stupid cast hindering me from getting behind the wheel. I was absolutely devastated. Fortunately, when I got the x-ray results I was delighted to see that the fracture was minor. I still had to spend around eight weeks in splints and casts, but I am finally back to healthy and ready to dive head first into my “Peak Prep”.
Another hurdle we are facing is the inability to get testing done in the car. It is a long and grueling process taking what was a NASCAR Cup Car and converting it over to a turbo-charged 1200HP monster that is capable of chewing up the Pikes Peak Highway and spitting it out behind me. I have Jim Leithauser who is one of the absolute best guys in the business working day in and day out to make sure that the car exceeds even the highest level of safety and performance standards. The progress he has already made is making me more excited every single time I step foot into the race shop. This car is going to be EPIC and entirely worth the wait. I really need to come up with a name for her… In the meantime, I have been doing some driving of different sorts in similar vehicles.
One incredible program that I am a part of is the Falci Adaptive Motorsports program. I have been working for the past 5 years with Scott P. Falci M.D. who is the Chief Neurosurgical Consultant of the Craig Hospital and Craig Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research. This amazing crew has built a real NASCAR cup car and adapted it with technology that allows individuals with spinal cord injuries the once in a life time opportunity to drive a real NASCAR on a real NASCAR track.
Two weeks ago, I was down at Texas Motor Speedway with the Falci crew working with some of America’s heroes who had been injured in combat. One particularly inspiring moment was when I had triple-amputee Kevin Trimble in the car. After a ride along and some coaching, Kevin strapped into the car to drive around the track. The technology used includes a special helmet that tracks head movement to control the steering, and a “sip and puff” straw that controls the throttle and brakes. After a few laps with my coaching from the other side of the car he was able to get up to around 135mph with no assistance from me. He was entirely in control of this 900+hp NASCAR using ONLY HIS HEAD. It is such an inspiring project to be a part of, and the smiles that are put onto the face of every single person involved will truly leave a lasting impact on my life. Plus, it allows me to get seat time in a NASCAR Cup Car similar to our PPIHC car. For more information about the program visit www.FalciMotorsports.com.
In my next post we should have the car complete and I will have stories of tire killing, and more info on exactly what steps I am taking to prepare for the challenge ahead. For additional photos of the build, and other adventures that I am a part of in between, please follow along on my Facebook Fan page, Tommy Boileau (Official Fan Page).
Words and images via Tommy Boileau