A new bug: Nowlin to race dune buggy at Lands End Hill Climb
Richard Nowlin wanted to try something different, so he bought a dune buggy.
The longtime drag racer started racing the dune buggy in off-road races. This weekend, the Whitewater man hopes to race it up Lands End road in the Colorado Hill Climb Association’s Lands End Hill Climb.
The annual race takes place Saturday and Sunday on Lands End Road. Tickets are $12 per person for both days. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
Racing begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Anyone interested in driving up the road is asked to do so at least 30 to 45 minutes before the races start and plan on not coming back down the road until after the day of races.
There are 10 classes: quads, sportsman, stock cars, open wheel, super sprint, rally car (two-wheel drive) rally car (all-wheel drive), super stock truck, open comp truck and an exhibition class.
There isn’t a specific class for the buggy, so it will compete in the top open-wheel class, Nowlin said.
“It’s designed for dirt roads, but not exactly hill climbs,” Nowlin said. “It’s probably not going to win it because those cars in that class are designed for hill climbs, but we’ll see what happens.”
The buggy has an aluminum Acura V6 5-speed transmission. It has rear-wheel drive with GPS navigation, a fresh-air system to eliminate breathing in dust and a fresh drinking water system that feeds through a tube into the driver’s helmet.
“It’s a hoot,” Nowlin said. “I’m surprised I haven’t done it earlier. It’s smooth. It sails.”
Nowlin will have a hill climb veteran race the buggy Saturday while he serves as chief mechanic for his boys’ junior dragsters at Western Colorado Dragway.
Nowlin hopes to race the buggy in Sunday’s finals.
Grand Junction residents Larry Thompson and Mike Magee are planning to race again in the sportsman class.
Thompson won the Lands End race last year in his 1978 Chevy Camaro. Magee had a mechanical breakdown in his 1977 Pontiac Firebird.