Preliminary reports from this weekend’s Mt Mitchell Challenge are suggesting that Rock/Creek team driver (and co-owner) Dawson Wheeler took home first-place honors in the Team Car Division.
The Mount Mitchell Challenge is a 40-mile race that takes trail runners from the town of Black Mountain, elevation 2360 ft, all the way to the top of Mt Mitchell at 6,684ft… and back! According to Wheeler, this was the first year that the Challenge has featured this particular division.
When pressed for details, Wheeler provided the following narrative:
We got to the starting line early, at about 5:50 AM; ahead of all the other team cars! I was feeling good. The 4Runner had a good night in the Comfort Inn Parking lot and had a pre race meal of Exxon Supreme, a full 16 gallons was in the tank.
I gave the runners a few minutes to clear Cherry St., and we were off, heading for Interstate 40 and beyond to Highway 80. Our first real challenge came on the Indy-car curves around the lake, heading toward the parkway. The 4Runner handled great, even steering with one hand as my other hand clutched a Hardees chicken biscuit. Despite the grease, the anti-slip grip on the steering wheel kept my chubby little fingers in perfect position.
Once on the parkway, we faced a series of tunnels, which the 4Runner’s advanced lighting system made short work of. Once we turned into Mt Mitchell State Park, we found the front runners on the short road section. They were surprised as we powered past them effortlessly, all the while Jake yelling “Shake and Bake” out the window while we took the lead position. From there to the top parking lot, it was less of a race and more of a celebration, knowing we had won the very first Mt. Mitchell Team Car Challenge.
Tears were streaming down my face as I put it into park and unclipped my seat belt. My navigator, Jake, and I busted out a few minutes of hand-in-hand Ultimate Skipping in the parking lot. All I wanted to do was listen to Flash Dance on the 4Runner’s eight-speaker stereo system about 5 more times. What a moment! Once the high was over, I found my stomach “trashed” from the intense experience, although it could have been that last Slim Jim I ate before heading into the park…
Wheeler says it has been his lifelong dream to win such an event. When asked how he managed to stay hydrated and alert throughout the course, he explained: “I brewed up the same mixture we put in the hummingbird feeder at home: sugar water and red dye #10. Navigator Jake Wheeler also fed me Ding Dongs.”
Rock/Creek’s press corps attempted to contact Mt. Mitchell Challenge Race Director Jay Curwen for a quote, but were informed that there was no such race. Wheeler claims that the first year was considered a “Fat Ass” race, and continues to recognize himself as the champion.
Dawson has asked us to call out all of his sponsors for their tireless support, especially Toyota of Cleveland for apparently making this dream possible. Eddie Triplett was unavailable for comment.