Thursday, June 26, during a qualifying run for the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb event, Class 8 stunt driver, racer and one of the men behind the budding ChampTruck Class 8 race series Mike Ryan suffered an equipment malfunction that resulted in a catastrophic crash for his modified Freightliner Cascadia race truck.
In an email issued the following day, Ryan told the story in his own words.
The week started really well with Wednesday morning sunrise practice at Devil’s Playground somewhere over 12,000 feet above sea level. The truck ran well and we put in some very good test times.
Thursday morning was our qualifying day from the start line to Glen Cove. On my second run, the truck and the weather made for one our fastest runs ever and we were on track to break our previous qualifying record. Steering left and apexing the turn at the base of Grouse Hill a welded section failed on the right side of the front axle. The right wheel took it’s own direction towards the right and the whole wheel and brake assembly tore off of the truck.
I left the edge of the road running close to 60 mph and flew about 50 feet into the tree tops. The outside edge of the shoulder dropped 30 feet or more to the downward slopping terrain. The trees bent under the weight and momentum of the truck, slowing it as they ripped up the body work and broke through the right side of the windshield. The truck fell about 15 to 20 feet and landed on some fairly large rocks and came to a stop.
The front axle was nearly torn from the truck and the oil pan was shattered by a boulder that also hurt the crankshaft and oil pump. The truck will need all new body parts other than the cab. a completely new front axle, intercooler, radiator, fans, shrouds, rear wing, many supports and brackets, front shocks, and the Detroit Diesel engine has to be removed and rebuilt.The good news is that when Freightliner engineers designed and built the chassis, they did a great job. Parts tore away so the inside occupants would be protected. The frame is arrow straight and we never used the roll cage. The MasterCraft 3G seats and DJ Safety harness held me in place and cushioned the impact leaving me perfectly fine with no bruises, cuts or soreness. Every part did more than what they were designed for, and thanks are also due to Michelin, Meritor, ConMet, Fluidyne, Spal Fans and King shocks. Most of those parts were destroyed doing their part to keep me safe. Ryan further apologized to “sponsors, crew and fans” for the absence of the Freightliner in yesterday’s racing action, where he ultimately was able to enter a different class and race a “brand new-off the showroom floor” Triumph Explorer 1200 motorcycle. Ryan hadn’t raced a bike at Pike’s Peak, he said, in more than a decade, the last time being before the track up the moutain was even paved.
MyLifeatSpeed.com produced the following video with Ryan following the crash.