Lands End Hill Climb auto race on Grand Mesa this weekend |

Lands End Hill Climb auto race on Grand Mesa this weekend

Brittany Markert

Hair-pin turns and steep drop-off ledges on a loose gravel road — for Grand Junction resident Larry Thompson, this is only the type of race he'll do.

Luckily for Thompson, the Lands End Hill Climb returns to Grand Mesa Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9-10. Hosted by Colorado Hill Climb Association (CHCA), racing rally cars, motorcycles, and more will start at 9 a.m. each morning.

"It's my favorite [race] and the longest running," Thompson said.

He races a 1978 Chevy Camero G28 and placed third in last years race.

Lands End Hill Climb originally started in 1940. It was took a hiatus from 1942 until 1982 when it started up again. It has ran off-and-on since then.

Racing starts on Lands End Road at the foot of the Grand Mesa at the Civil Conservation Corps campsite and runs up to the road for five and a half miles. The best place for spectators to catch the action is at Bob's Knob (named after a local racing legend) about three and a half miles up the course. It's suggested to get there before the race starts for easier access. Races go off at two-minute intervals throughout the day and feature many different racing categories.

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"The motorcycles are going to add a lot of fun and excitement," CHCA race coordinator Rodney O'Maley said. "Two to three will go off at a time so you get to see people race at the same time instead of individual racing."

The overall record is four minutes and 30 seconds; for the sportsman division it's five minutes and 13 seconds.

According to a CHCA fan, Joel Yust, the racers to watch include Dave Wood, Lori Wood, Spencer Steele or Paul Dallenbach in the open-wheel division.

To get to the race from 32 Road, take Highway 50 for seven miles and turn left on Lands End Road. Follow the road for another seven miles until it turns into dirt road, which will take you to the starting line.


CHCA was founded in 1971 as a nonprofit to host hill-climb races throughout Colorado, including Pikes Peak, Monarch Mountain and more. The Lands End Hill Climb race is even older.

The late Bob Baughman, a Grand Junction native, watched the race in 1940 and decided to compete with the professionals in 1941. The race was American Automobile Association sanctioned, which also sponsored the Indy 500 and other popular races during that time. The Lands End Hill Climb spanned the entire 14 miles up and the hillsides boasted with more than 10,000 spectators.

Baughman built a car a month before race day out of a 1940 Ford Coupe. He raced against Louis Unser, a renowned race car driver, along with many others and placed seventh.

According to Bob's son, Jim Baughman, he had the bright idea to create a replica of the car his dad used in the 1941 race as the pace car for his dad to drive up and down the hillside.

"My dad came out to help build it," Jim Baughman said. "I started working on it every day and eventually I would come home to help him work on it."

From July 1982 until 1990, they were able to drive the car up and down the road each year the race was held.

"I encourage others to watch it," Jim Baughman said. "It's very challenging. The guys that race are a lot braver than I am."

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WHAT: Lands End Hill Climb

WHERE: Lands End Road on Grand Mesa

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9-10, starting at 9 a.m.

COST: $12 for weekend, $10 for Sunday


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