Before heading to an event, Wheelock checks out his Subaru WRX STI. That includes suspension pieces, engine components, and the brake system (replacing parts as necessary). When he first began hillclimbing, Wheelock studied maps of the roads, but he now relies on his in-car video from past events.
At a typical hillclimb event, there is a day of practice runs up the hill. They are timed, as are the final runs held the next day. The fastest run up the hill on that final day determines a driver’s final placement in the event’s standings.
Wheelock participates in six to eight hillclimbs per year, frequenting the NEHA events. In 2011, he finished in the top five at those series events (Ascutney, Burke, Okemo, and Philo) and finished 2nd in points for the series.
June 2011 saw the return of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Climb to the Clouds. Nick Wheelock was in attendance in the #832 WRX STI. According to Wheelock, this was his favorite event to date.
Wheelock’s 9th- and 10th-place practice runs put him at the top of the field of 50-plus entrants. He finished the race in 9th place, posting the only Subaru finish in the top 10 besides record-setter David Higgins, the event winner (read more about Higgins in Version 8.3’s Subaru Motorsports: 2011 Review). No wonder this was his favorite event!
Photo: Lars Gange | rally.subaru.com
A few blocks down the road from where Nick Wheelock lives is Kale’s Custom shop (www.kalescustom.com). The shop began as a mechanical repair shop, but it has evolved and now builds and modifies performance vehicles, with a penchant for Subaru models. Shop owner Joey Kale explained that about half of the cars he works on are used for hillclimbs, and the rest are taken to the pavement for autocross and track events.
The initial modification of Nick Wheelock’s current hillclimb vehicle, a blue 2004 WRX STI, by Kale’s Custom included a roll cage, a fully built engine, a custom turbo inlet pipe, custom turbo assembly, and suspension tweaks. While Wheelock does his own basic maintenance and enjoys playing with cars, he relies on Kale’s Custom to help with the repairs and preparation of his Subaru.