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Hooniverse Goes To The Virginia City Hillclimb


Just last week I was listening to the Smoking Tire podcast (when I’m not listening to the Hooniverse podcast or hosting the Cammed & Tubbed podcast, of course), when I heard mention that the famous Cobb Tuned Fiesta ST would be making an appearance at the Virginia City Hill Climb that very weekend. I live in Reno, and Virginia City is about a 30 minute drive from my house. I should probably go to that, yeah? So that’s how I found myself driving to the middle of nowhere at 6 in the morning on a Saturday to watch a bunch of cars I can’t afford drive up a mountain. That’s my idea of fun!


This 458 was absolutely gorgeous. I haven’t seen one in this color before, as it wasn’t your traditional Ferrari red. This one had a lot more metallic to it, and it was almost like a dried blood kind of color. With the black wheels, it couldn’t have looked any better if it tried.


Jonny Lieberman was there, and he brought along a brand new Cadillac CTS-V to hustle up the mountain. He’d also brought a film and photography crew, so keep an eye out for that to be dropping sometime soonish. This new Cadzilla is freakin’ sweet looking, too. It’s got just enough different from the regular CTS (or the vsport) that you can tell it’s been lifting weights, but not enough to really give away the secret. Is this a Q-ship? It might be.


I don’t know why, but the 360 is growing on me. Maybe its because they’re depreciating faster than a brand new diamond ring. Maybe its because the beach-eroded stone design culture of the early 2000s is starting to look good again. Maybe it’s because this one was painted in a gorgeous shade of Orancia. In any case, It was nice.


The Tiger Club apparently makes the journey to the hill every year, and this year, there were a small handful of them on site. They sounded exceptionally good, and were pretty darn quick for their age. The “poor man’s Cobra” isn’t really for the poor man anymore, though.

Welcome to Nevada. STAY OUT!


Easily one of my favorite cars of the event, this El Camino was not really much El Camino left. 427 cubic inch engine, completely redesigned chassis with pushrod suspension visible in the “bed”, massive GT40-sourced Halibrand magnesium wheels, and an altogether amazing level of fit and finish. This hot rod could “shit it and get it!”


The hillclimb has been put on by the Ferrari Club of America Pacific Region for 44 years now, and F-cars were widely well represented. There were three 308s (including a 308 GT4) that were sadly the oldest models from the marque represented. Here’s a message to all 330 GTC owners, YOU’D BETTER MAKE IT TO THE HILL CLIMB NEXT YEAR!


Akrapovic exhausts brought a nice new BMW M4 with a crazy titanium exhaust and LOTS OF BOOST. It sounded pretty good, but frankly didn’t look all that fast.


In my personal opinion, the FF is the ugliest thing to ever come out of Maranello. It’s cool because of what it was, but they really should have made a variant that was rear wheel drive with a slinky 2-place coupe design and a drop-top variant. This thing was hustling, and was the third fastest late model F-car of the day.


Here’s more of that El Camino, just because.




One of the interesting bits of the hillclimb was that there were a dozen or so residences on the road that were shut off for the two days of the event from 8 to 5. One of those residences had this trio of cool old trucks in the driveway. Everyone in the desert needs an FJ.




If you’re going to a hillclimb, and you’re bringing a Sharkwerks tuned 997 GT2, prepare to give yourself a scare. This guy was pushing, but fell just short to a 997 Turbo with Hoosier slicks as Fastest Porsche of the Day.


This is one of my favorite pictures of the day. Jonny’s angular supercharged Caddy was hustling around with him at the wheel. It was absolutely speedy for a completely stock car. There was a first-gen CTS-V with a huge supercharger bolted on that barely beat him for Fastest Cadillac of the Day.


Speaking of other auto-journo types, Thaddeus from The Smoking Tire was there, as I mentioned. Thad was a cool dude, and it was really nice to meet him. His car was even more rad, though. The goal of this little Cobb tuned burnout box was to beat ‘anything with a horse badge’, which was easily accomplished. Thad finished in the top half of the grid, handily beating at least a dozen Ferraris. They say that anything sub 4 minutes is pretty quick on the hill, and Thad turned a 3:59 and change. Not bad, considering he beat a couple of 458s and a 550 Maranello, and was within 3 seconds of the FF’s fastest time. Only 3 seconds shy of a 650 horsepower car with all wheel drive on a hill climb in a front wheel drive Ford? I’d call that a good day.


Here’s more of that FF. I have to give the guy credit for taking it out and chucking it through the corners, rather than cruising it to the mall and back home on a Sunday.




New 991 GT3? Run it up the hill!


Here’s the shuttle to take corner workers up to their stations. I worked up at Turn 4 for a while, and most of my photos are from that section. I worked with a LeMons runner (the guy with the 308 GT4) who helped build ‘the Molvo’, a Miata with a Volvo body welded on top of it. The other guy at Turn 4 with us had been flagging this event for 20 years, he had a long white beard, and he rolled through packs of Swisher Sweets like they were Werther’s Originals hard candies.


One of the prettiest cars in the field, this Aston made some nice noises.


Oooh. Fancy Fezza.


Oooh. Fancy Macca.


This Viper TA was one of my favorites at the event. The gorgeous blue shade that it wore made it very easy to spot on the hill, and the carbon fiber accents were perfect. It was pretty damn quick, too. I wonder how much faster a new Viper ACR might have been.




This old Tiger was the best sounding car of the event. There’s just something about a good old small block that makes my heart sing. Lovely.


A 16M is a rare sight, even at a Ferrari event. Pretty cool.


This car (also the lead image) was pretty cool. It looked to have been a racing car for a LONG time, and had some lovely patina to show for it. It was a rip-roarer, and I was happy to see it attack the hill. Gutsy driving, too.



These guys drove all the way from Denver (a long ways for those who don’t know). Their CTS-V Wagon was tweaked a bit for some extra power, and it turned some impressive times.


A Lieberman in its natural habitat. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of that Radillac. It just looked too cool for school.


I liked this vantage point. #Dynamism


This, ladies and gents, was your winner in 2015. The record on the hill stands at 3:14 set by a ballsy driver in an F40, but this P1 made a go of it setting a 3:22.8. I contend that if this car could have handily mashed the F40s time right in the face if it’d been driven by the likes of a Randy Pobst. Perhaps McLaren should send a factory car next year with Kevin Estre behind the wheel. Let’s see a sub-3 minute run.

(Correction: In regard to that last paragraph, it turns out that a Mr. Justin Schuh managed a single pass of 3:21.25 that I missed on the timing sheets. He was driving a rather unassuming silver Nissan GT-R with a lot of power. I apologize to Mr. Schuh and his efforts. Congratulations on the fastest time of day.)

[All photos ©2015 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]

  • dukeisduke

    I dig that ’61 Ford Starliner. What time did it turn?

  • Manic_King

    I’m not sure those door handles on that new bad ass Cadillac are a good idea IRL (I mean them being on different heights on front and rear doors).

    • Bradley Brownell

      They follow the body line. They aren’t the only ones doing it these days. The most egregious version is Hyundai’s Sonata.

      • Manic_King

        Mmm, yes, that Sonata is/was generally over-styled and ugly, I see they have moved away from that idea with current gen.

  • Justin Schuh

    Actually, I beat the P1 in my GT-R with a 3:21 this year. Good commentary on all the other cars!

  • Marcus WK

    Did you guys miss the part where the GTR beat the P1?????

    Oh yeah, the driver of the GTR has raced against Randy Pobst, and passed him.

  • Tyler parke

    I like how the GT-R that posted a better time than the P1 is totally ignored

  • Sharon Bank

    This is the 3rd year in a row that the unassuming silver GT-R won the Virginia City Hill Climb. Not one photo of the 3-time winner of this event? The photography is good, but the gallery is missing the 3-time winning car.