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Rally car rivalry at Kelowna Knox Mountain Hill Climb

The race takes place May 21 and 22

The competition is revving up as racers prepare to break records at the return of the Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

After two years of COVID cancellations, the popular event is back May 21 and 22.

Garrett Mealing, one of the organizers and racers of the event is looking to beat his rally-car teammate Roger Sieber.

Both racers are looking to podium in the overall King of the Hill category, but Mealing thinks he may have an edge over his competitor.

He has been training on a simulator of Knox, which will give him an advantage over Sieber’s lighter, quicker car , since he will be more familiar with the twists and turns up the hill.

Mealing drives a re-worked 1995 Eagle Talon with a two liter turbo engine, producing 570 horsepower. This year he updated his front suspension, installed lighter and more aerodynamic pieces and has tire warmers to ensure his car is hot off the start.

Computer generated design flow simulation of the aerodynamics of Mealing's car (Brent Martin/ Martin action photography)

In addition to besting his rival and clinching a spot on the overall podium, Mealing is vying for the record in the GT-M category of one minute, 54.661 seconds.

The best time ever recorded up Knox, in all categories, is held by John Haftner with a time of one minute and 37 seconds.

Mealing’s run in 2019 fell only a second short of the GT-M record time. To take the title this year, Mealing said, “I need to not be afraid.”

Crashing is on the mind of all racers, particularly into turn one, when their tires and brakes are cold, turn five, a “hot spot for crashes,” and turn seven, leading into the right turn eight hairpin, said Mealing.

“The biggest thing with the Knox climb is the safety stuff,” he explained.

Knox Mountain Drive was not built with racing in mind, like tracks are, so the risk of a serious crash is higher, explained Mealing.

Volunteers of the event have been working ‘tire’-lessly to ensure the safety of the racers and spectators of the event and have set up tire barricades where necessary.

“Everything is volunteer-run and we are always looking for more volunteers,” said Mealing.

Anyone looking to volunteer can do so on the hill climb website.

Tickets to the event are $15 for one day and $25 for the weekend. All proceeds are donated to charity with this year’s proceeds going to the Kelowna General Hospital Joanna’s House.

Racers will be continuously trying for a best time up the course throughout the weekend, taking as many tries as possible, with only their best effort counting towards the standings. There will be fast-paced racing to see no matter when you show up to watch.

To accomodate the busy weekend of racing, Knox Mountain Drive will be closed for set up starting Thursday, May 19 at noon. The park will remain open to visitors until the event begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21.

Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and water as they will likely be hiking up Knox to watch the racing in action.

People planning on attending the event are strongly discouraged from wearing red, the colour of the ‘Stop’ flag, as it may distract or confuse drivers during their run.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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