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Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com

 Todd Cook in a hurry at Buffalo Peak in Colorado.
(Photo Cook Collection)



Racing is a passionate sport, but we seldom seem to intermarry.

It’s almost as though we live in separate worlds – one for sports cars, one for Indy, for NASCAR, sprint cars, drag racing, and the like.

It’s a shame, because we all really are of the same species. A racer is a racer. Case in point: Todd Cook.

Todd is the personable proprietor of TCE Performance in Tempe, AZ. One busy guy, he makes masterful aftermarket braking systems of all flavors, does race car prep and fabrication, and travels widely giving performance-driving instruction.

He knows his stuff and he’s spent his time beneath the belts. He’s raced Formula Mazda, been the shop manager for both Bob Bondurant and Jim Russell Schools, and served as tech inspector to the Star Mazda Series. But for the last dozen years he has also been master of the mountain – one of the country’s most admired hill climbers, working with his wife Chris, a limited crew, and a very limited budget.

We should all pay more heed to the hill climb space. After all, it is one of the most time-honored forms of racing, the first recorded event being held in France in 1897. Today various events are sprinkled across our nation with dates such as the Giants’ Despair Climb in Pennsylvania, the Mount Equinox in Vermont, and likely the most famous, “The Hill’, Colorado’s Pikes Peak. It’s racy stuff.

Todd’s hot rod will grab you with just the sideways glance. The pretty little all-aluminum flyweight TCE/Coyote was originally built by John Wells in 2000. Powered by a 3.5L stroked V6 SHO (Ford/Yamaha), it scales in at 1470 pounds, all wet, with Todd aboard.

 Todd at Land’s End in Colorado. (Photo Cook Collection)

And a little closer look will tell you how trick it really it. The workmanship is beautiful and the ideas behind it thought-provoking. The car is modular with three sections: a crush structure up front, the driver’s capsule, and the engine section in back. And it’s all held together with hose clamps!

 It comes apart. (Photo Dick Berggren)

Todd, meanwhile, is the epitome of a driver. He thought nothing of traveling cross-country last summer to take on Mt Washington, that treacherously narrow guitar string of a road up a mountain known worldwide for its violently unpredictable weather. After just a couple of practice runs, he quickened the Coyote’s gait by 27 seconds. Check out this video….


Note the amazing speed he carries and monitor the suspension stability by watching that front wing. He was the fastest open-wheel car there ever in “the Climb to the Clouds” and fastest two-wheel-drive car ever as well.

Todd’s comments afterwards were a tad understated. “I could have gone faster. With the wet up top beyond that tree line, visibility was my challenge. I felt my way the last couple of miles. I knew there was a road up there somewhere….”

Like many other hill climbers, Todd and Chris will be focused on Pikes Peak this summer. Scheduled for July 8, the event is definitely amped up for 2012. For the 90th annual running, the course, as recently as 2000 all dirt, will be completely paved. Entries are way up. Todd is psyched. He knows he will be underpowered relative to some of the wealthier open-wheel teams, but don’t for a minute count him out. He already has four wins there and holds both the Qualifying and Race Records in the retired Mini Sprint class for which the car was originally built.

Todd says:

“Racing on Pikes Peak really is a challenge. There’s very limited practice, and it might be even more limited this year with all the new activity.

“Your approach to driving there is different from other racing. It’s just not a 100-lapper or even 30 laps. It’s like you’re qualifying EVERY lap. It used to be more of sprint car style than a late-apex asphalt approach, but I suspect that will change now, too, with the pavement.”

“The competition is not with other competitors. It’s racing against the road. Sure, you want each time to be your flyer, but you just cannot make a mistake. People do go off the cliff. I sure have.

“So, I guess in some ways it’s the same as any other form of motorsports. There’s that balance. Your first mindset is to finish the run, but how much do you push that envelope? The mentality to finish gets blunted by the desire to finish quickly.”

Is that classic racer speak or what? We’re all the same.

Go Todd!

 Todd and Chris. (Photo Cook Collection)

© 2012 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

2/18/12 - OJ McKenney and the Freedom Machine

1/31/12 - Jon's Joy

1/16/12 - Dinner with Tony

12/31/11 - A Hundred Tearoffs

12/19/11 - Some Cars

12/4/11 - Bob Jepson, the Land Speed Racer Next Door

11/22/11 - Present Payoff, Future Payoff

11/7/11 - Route 169 South, Algona

10/19/11 - Otto Does the 'Cuse

9/30/11 - Saturday Folk at New Hampshire

9/14/11 - About J.R. Hildebrand - and that Last Lap

8/30/11 - Sideways and the Dzus Queen

8/16/11 - Totally Fast

8/2/11 - Perrotte at Plattsburgh

7/14/11 - So Here's What Jack Says

6/30/11 - Quick to Quickest - Jim “Mr. Magoo” Maguire

6/16/11 - Climb to the Clouds

6/2/11 - Irv and the Hall of Fame

5/18/11 - Makin' MOWA

5/4/11 - The Running of the Racers

4/21/11 - Pruett's Perspective

4/4/11 - Winter of Discontent

3/23/11 - Thinking of Gene Bergin

3/8/11 - Sprint Car World Record?

2/21/11 - Dinner at Daytona

2/10/11 - The Call Him 1/4ley

1/28/11 - Doc's Beard

1/15/11 - Reconsidering Generalizations

12/31/10 - Powerful Passion

12/19/10 - Tearoff at Yuletide

12/6/10 - Indy in December

11/21/10 - Mutt and the Brutal Ballet

10/29/10 - The Johnny Bensons and Their Supers

10/13/10 - Anatomy of an Accident

9/28/10 - Maybe Marty

9/14/10 - Push Refresh for Speedway Illustrated

8/23/10 - An Ode to Senior Supers

8/6/10 - Adrian and the Deep Water

7/20/10 - Holdout in Yuppieville

7/7/10 - The Wins are Gustin

6/16/10 - Racin' Kid, Racin' Dad

5/28/10 - The Monk and Matty D.

5/15/10 - Bluebird

4/27/10 - Catching Up With Steve Arpin

4/11/10 - The Song of the Fifties

3/22/10 - Davey!

3/8/10 - Restart!

2/21/10 - Miracles of the Rock

2/8/10 - Roger The Remarkable

1/21/10 -  Shane's Sensational '78

12/28/09 - The Flying Finn and The All American Boy

12/12/09 - Hello Wall

11/29/09 - Once More for Ernie

11/15/09 - Ernie's Excellent Chase

11/1/09 - In The Zone

10/19/09 - Rough Week in the Midwest

10/1/09 - Common Starts, Uncommon Comebacks

9/4/09 - South Dakota Chris

8/15/09 - Facial Exposure

7/31/09 - Dying in the Pits

7/9/09 - Barn Rat's Last Race

6/18/09 - Catching Up With Brad Doty

5/20/09 - Big Boys in The Attic  - rare photos of legends

5/6/09 - Back Up In The Attic - more rare photos

4/22/09 - The Son of Hard Luck - accessible racing
experience for the handicapped

4/3/09 - Racin' In The Attic - Gordon Ross photo collection

3/18/09 - About That Mike Spaulding

3/3/09 - Dick Berggren's First Win - (you had to be there!)

2/11/09 - Peter at the Park - Peter Fiandaca at Riverside Park

1/30/09 - Steve - Steve Arpin

1/4/09 - Racer Speak -cool quotations

12/16/08 - Wimble Power, Will Power - Bill Wimble

11/24/08 - Remembering Chuck Amati - by Joyce Standridge

11/11/08 - That Rick Ferkel

10/24/08 - Beyond Bionic - Bentley Warren

10/6/08 - Fifty Second Classic - Skip and Lois Matczak

9/20/08 - Joey's Dad - Tom Logano

9/1/08 - One Night at The Park - the death of Les Ley

8/20/08 - Transitional Technology - early supermodifieds

8/6/08 - Wallace on Wednesdays - dirt trackin’ Kenny

7/19/08 - Star(ter) of the Show - importance of good flaggers

7/7/08 - McUnderdog - Eddie MacDonald

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried - Buzz Rose

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer - the late Al Powell

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues - Bobby Santos III

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey - Carl Edwards and Corey Dripps

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers - West Liberty, Iowa

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See - cockpit vision

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See - flagstand vision

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos - in-car camera midget win

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer

© 2007-12 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181





































































































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