Have you ever been lucky enough to sit in the presence of humble awesomeness? I got the opportunity to do just that when I got to speak with veteran road racer Rick Knoop at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Knoop’s career spans 36 years and includes wins at LeMans and Daytona, as well as many podium finishes in Can Am, Sprint Cars, IMSA, and “a little thing called NASCAR.” He’s considered one of the top American endurance racers, and at age 60, he is still a fierce competitor.
Knoop will be behind the wheel of the Knoop-Mann Special. Developed from a 1958 Jaguar Lister frame, the Knoop-Mann Special is a tribute to the “Can Do” generation of the fathers of Knoop and car owner Julian Mann. The two teamed up in 2012 and won the Exhibition Class at Pikes Peak, and now they are back to prove themselves in the Unlimited Class.
Since its win two years ago, the Knoop-Mann Special has been upgraded with a new rear wing and splitter for greater downforce, rocker front suspension, and several engine improvements. They even managed to lower the center of gravity an astonishing four inches. Now running a 430ci Chevy small block V8, the Special puts out 700 hp and nearly as much torque. Weighing only 2300 pounds, the Knoop-Mann Special practically flies.
Not only does the Knoop-Mann Special have the goods, it also cuts a dashing figure. Its sleek navy blue paint is accented with a silver and yellow stripe, paying homage to the United States Navy Seals. At first glance it looks pure vintage, but closer inspection reveals a chromoly tube chassis with a carbon fiber body. Eighteen inch wheels are wrapped in Hoosier R80 racing slicks. Inside, the MoTeC dash allows the crew to gather an incredible amount of engine and suspension data.
“The evolution of the Knoop-Mann Special since its debut in 2012 is incredible,” said Knoop. “The car’s explosive acceleration is matched with smooth agility and sexy vintage looks. The visual magnetism of this beauty excites people of all ages. It is one of the most exhilarating cars that I’ve ever driven.”
Knoop and the Knoop-Mann Special team are the 2013 NASA National defending champions in the TTR class. They are currently second in the Super Unlimited class and lead the TTR classes in the Southern California region.
This past week has been devoted to practice and qualifying runs. The race begins this Sunday, June 29th at 8am local time. You can live stream the race here.
Check out all the coolest cars from the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb…
Emme is a driver, reviewer, and rabble rouser. She is the principle driver and trophy winner for the Mega Monkey Motorsports™ 2 seat 1600 desert racer, powered by an air-cooled VW engine and has also been on the podium in a stock bug, a trophy bug, and an ultra-4. She is one of only 17 American women to have participated in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all female off road rally in Morocco with no GPS. You can check her out online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs