On July 7th, 2000 the time had come. Per Eklund and his Saab Viggen 9-3 4 × 4 stormed Pikes Peak. In the Open Wheel category, Eklund took the win and set a record with a time of 11 minutes and 21.58 seconds. It didn't last forever. But at least for 12 years.
His Saab 9-3 Viggen 4 × 4 had nothing to do with the production car. He only wore the silhouette of a 9-3, but under the sheet everything was different. Trollspeed Racing, Eklund's home base in Trollhättan, had given the engine at least 750 hp. In contrast to the series, in Faktorgatan 5 the engine was built in lengthways instead of across. Instead of two driven wheels at the front, the Pikes Peak Viggen had four-wheel drive that was designed to be rear-heavy. A 6-speed transmission, which every civilian Viggen pilot can only dream of, was added.
A record on Pikes Peak for 12 years.
In conjunction with the carbon fiber body, the Viggen weighed 1.100 kilograms. With this lightweight, Eklund in Colorado stormed the mountain with its dusty slopes and sharp turns in a fabulous time. 1.439 meters of difference in altitude have to be mastered, the distance is 19,99 kilometers, and the record was set in less than 12 minutes. All-wheel drive, turbo and low weight. Hard to beat in the combination and only the Frenchman Romain Dumas managed to break the record 12 years later with 9 minutes and 46.181 seconds.
In the meantime, the conditions had changed. The route has been paved and the demands on people and material have become less. But Dumas seems to have fallen in love with the mountain. He kept coming back and setting new records.
Most recently in 2018 in the VW ID R Pikes Peak. 7: 57,148 is the current record. In an electric car, which makes it clear how much times have changed since then. The full torque is available from the start, the center of gravity is low and there is no longer any dust or gravel. Technically, the development is fascinating, but somehow also terrifyingly bland.
Eklund was 54 years old at the time of his record. He drove to Pikes Peak in various classes with Eklund Motorsport until 2014. Troll speed still exists and we met the tour bus with which his racing team drives through Europe a few years ago at the Schwedenkai in Kiel.
What he is doing in the present, at the age of 74, is unclear. Corona successfully keeps Mark and me away from Trollhättan and Sweden. We hope he's fine.
There is a video of the event in our Media Library.