On a twisting dirt and gravel road 100 years ago intrepid racers staged the first Race to the Clouds, otherwise known as the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It was one of the rare times an Unser didn’t win.
For many of the past 50 years one of the racing Unser clan from Albuquerque, N.M., has won the annual summer race over 156+ turns and 12.42 miles. For much of that time the road was still gravel and dirt, now it’s completely paved.
Open-wheel racers have been challenging the 4,720-foot climb to the peak at 14,110 feet on grades averaging 7.2% that entire time, but so have stock cars and sports cars, sedans and coupes.
A little background on the elder Unser’s success at Pikes Peak is in order. Before 1986, roughly four years after the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner had retired from racing, Bobby Unser had won the Hill Climb 12 times. His drive in a white Audi Sport Quattro S1 with red and blue trim (very patriotic), would be his 13th and the most of any racer to challenge Pikes Peak. Bobby set nine track records along with his 13 wins too.
Unser had done development work for Audi after retiring from his successful Indycar career, at one time setting a high mark of 206.8 mph in an Audi. So after 12 years away from running the mountain, Audi asked Unser to give it another go and he once again posted the top speed, giving him 10 overall victories, breaking a tie he had with his uncle Louis Unser. Both his uncle and father had won the race for years before Bobby and his brother Al took up the challenge.
Generally the hill climb averages 130 competitors driving everything from cars and trucks to motorcycles and all in a variety of categories. Bobby posted two stock class victories (1969 and 1974), along with a sports car class win in 1963.
Other than Bobby, other famous racers to win Pikes Peak include his brother Al (a 4-time Indy winner), and Bobby’s son Robby Unser (a 2-time Indy starter and 8-time Pikes Peak winner), along with Mario Andretti.
Audi’s Quattro was a popular rally racer in the 1980s and ‘90s, its four-wheel-drive (quattro) system giving it tremendous grip compared with other rally cars of the day. The competition version boasted a 2.1-liter turbocharged engine making 444 horsepower. The Quattro was a consistent winner and Audi wanted to build on its reputation with Unser’s run for the record book at Pikes Peak.
Comparing the model to photos of the race car it appears every sponsor decal and trim paint is perfectly executed, including an American flag decal reversed on the passenger’s side door and Bobby Unser’s name on each side under the window. Daniels Communications was a major sponsor and its logo along with Audi, Mobil 1, Bosch, Clayton Industries, Michelin and Boge are all on board.
Black plastic air ducts seal the big air ducts in the bulging fenders behind the doors. Fine black screen mesh covers the rear lights and a black plastic screen encloses the cooling units that were placed in the Quattro’s trunk to chill down this wild beast as is stormed the mountain.
Windows are trimmed in black with exposed hinges for the rear hatch, black wipers, chrome trimmed headlights, cool round black mirrors in white casings mounted at the A-pillars and various hood and front fender air scoops and grilles.
This is a sealed model, so no engine detail and the doors don’t open, but these are large clear windows that allow a solid view of the sparse interior’s roll cage, lone black Recaro racing seat, red seat belts that tether clear to where the back seat would be in the normal Audi 80 coupe that the Quattro was based on.
Tires are lightly treaded, not branded and the five-spoke white racing wheels display giant disc brakes behind them while a wide flat twin exhaust protrudes from beneath the car under the passenger’s side door. Overall a beautiful model.
Top Marques’ models are new to the U.S. and are now available through Replicarz, which provided the review sample. Currently Top Marques has 13 models available, with many more listed as future releases.
Product: 1986 Audi Sport Quattro S1, Pikes Peak winner, Bobby Unser
Maker: Top Marques Collectibles
Stock No.: TOP29