Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Evo Crash PPIHC Jeremy Foley Evolution Dynamics

Evolution Dynamics Pikes Peak Edition Evo

By Sarah Forst & Wes Dumalski


F1 race car driver Stirling Moss once said "To achieve anything in this game, you must prepare to dabble in the boundary of disaster."  Of course, he also broke both ankles and chipped four vertebrae after falling three stories down an elevator shaft a few years back so accidents can happen to anyone...  

But how do you prepare for a floor routine that involves 14 somersaults 100 feet down a 45 degree abyss polluted with boulders?  They don't call Turn 16 of the Pike's Peak course "Devil's Playground" for nothing.  12,500 feet up the side of the summit- just 1500 feet shy of the finish line- the corner features a steep unprotected cliff.  Perhaps the asphalt leading up to the turn should be nicknamed Skidmark Alley.

By now, the video of the Evolution Dynamics Evo careening down a boulder ravine has been viewed by millions.  My own life even flashed in front of my eyes while watching it.  You can't skimp on safety with racing events like this. If you haven't seen the Evo playing pinball in a quarry, check out the video:



Flash back to December 2011. Kevin Dubois at Evolution Dynamics asked Jeremy Foley if he wanted to run Pike's Peak in an Evo 8. That's akin to asking a homeless man if he wants a fifth of hooch. Pike's Peak entertains a limited number of participants and is invite only. They filled out the application, crossed some fingers and toes, sent in a bribe or two, and got a letter back saying they were accepted. Thus the dream had begun.


Evolution Dynamics shared these "before" photos with us:

The Evo 8 has Evodynamics custom dry carbon hood and Seibon carbon widebody front fenders.


Flash forward to August 2012.  Eight months of grease, lube, and fluids and a baby is born. It's a Mitsubishi 4G63 with forced performance HTA3586 ball bearing turbo making 550whp and 500 ft lbs at 28psi running E85. In Colorado Springs at 6000 feet, it made 540whp and 480 ft lbs at 24psi. It's a boost happy rocket on wheels.


The rear has a custom made alumalite rear diffuser that measures 42" long with a 12 degree angle. 


Time for the competition. The first day of practice went great.  They went out with the last run group which contained Time Attack, Open wheel, and Unlimited cars each getting about three runs. Jeremy and Yuri took the first run at about 80%.  It was their first time using the pace notes and they were pretty conservative with the unfamiliar sections.  They weren't able to complete the second run due to a power steering hose failure. They cleared up a few mistakes and made changes to the line and braking zones and got in a quick third run. 


Tucked in the engine bay is a 2.3L 4G63 making around 550 wheel horsepower and 500 ft lbs of torque at 28psi. 


The qualifying sessions were also successful, with the team finishing in fifth place.  The windshield mounted camera spotted small puffs of smoke coming out of the hood vents in 1st gear during hard accelerations. The problem was identified as a loose oil feed line on the turbo.  This issue and the power steering hose failing again caused them to miss the practice sessions but they turned the car around in time for the race.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:26 AM
A favorite quote of mine: http://www.teachersparadise.com/images/prods/pimages/Learning-Materials--Poster-Learn-From-The-Mistakes-Of--T-A67117_L.jpg

I attribute the survival of the passengers to both the cage and some luck. Luck never hurts :)
Alex Vendler
Alex Vendlerlink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:07 AM
We can all speculate on how this cage was flawed or could have been made better but indeed it did it's job. That said, the next car I build will have the seats mounts tied into the cage as that's relatively easy to do and doesn't add a lot of weight or complexity.
Poor Man Garage
Poor Man Garagelink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:30 AM
Hey Mike what type if steel did they use to build the cage? I am guessing mild steel? Because if the bends. How do you think chromoly steel would have faired in relations to the structure if the cage and passenger safety? And while I got you do you always have to heat treat each weld on a chromoly steel for road racing application I can seem to find a clear answer thanks?
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:52 AM
^ Cage specs DOM mild steel 8 point cage; .095", 1.75"OD

This taken from page 5... Remember we are all about the details.

While I am not Mike I will take a stab at your question. I think how a chromoly cage would hold up is directly proportionate to the prep work performed upon fabrication. Assuming flawless execution it would have likely bent less and as a result provided less impact attenuation. The cage "could" have held up better in that case but it would transfer more energy to the occupants for sure and they may not have faired as well. I will personally always use mild steel for a road race car because of this.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:54 AM
@ Alex this is something we discussed with Kevin and of course that is a revision for the next build. In this case MY opinion is that the passenger seat movement was a by product of the floor pan separation coupled with the B pillar being pressed in and thus the welded in floor reinforcement plates offer very little when their foundation distorts.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:57 AM
Kind of off topic but wow, imagine those seats in a street car with no cage. In a roll situation, those things are strong as nails! Surely, not having a collapsible back is a large safety issue. Makes me wonder about those people who do driving events with a non-reclining bucket and no cage.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:27 AM
"If cage designs with crumple zones and cages built to protect like tanks become mandatory, many cars won't be able to compete which takes away from the grassroots motorsports event Pike's Peak tries to be."

I mean, is it really a "grassroots" event at this point? Invitation only, "deep pockets" as you say to compete there... Why not require the most stringent safety standards? No ordinary racer has a chance in hell of competing at PP, or practically any form of serious motorsport these days.

Require them to be as safe as possible IMHO.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:15 AM
The cage worked, like everything else through a combination of design, fabrication skill and luck. Everything else about this has been hashed to death already so I'll leave it there.

Pikes Peak should really revisit cage regs, and other safety concerns. Calling yourself a grassroots event is fine, but using that as an excuse for lack of safety will likely mean it gets sued to death sometime in the near future. And ffs, I'm pretty sure LeMons requires more from its cages.

I can't help but look at Dacia hitting the camera and crashing as a "it can happen to anyone" thing... and then look at some cages that were there for the event that are just crazy.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:58 AM
@boro92 - Actually seats in street cars are built so the seats don't collapse in an accident, usually even a roll-over. Having your seat collapse in an accident would defeat the purpose of seat belts and harnesses, and the safety equipment in the car would not be able to do it's job properly to keep you safe.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 11:33 AM
@Burninator Interesting feed back!
Your points are well taken and it certainly makes sense.
I was always under the pretense that reclining seats on the street are designed to recline/move to some degree in the case of a roll over...so the driver isn't sitting straight up like a board only to get their head smushed in a real bad accident.

But you're right--esp in a rear end scenario, if we have the seat backs collapse, the driver can go flying!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 11:47 AM
More info on reclining seats found from a message board:

"Harnesses, Bucket/One-piece seats, and Rollbars/Cages are meant to be used together!
If you are asking about using a harness and/or bucket seat WITHOUT rollover protection, you will be immediately directed here. The short explanation:
-The stock system (3-point seatbelt, reclining seat, no rollbar) is designed to work AS a "system." In the event of a rollover, the 3-point belt allows your body to fold over, and the reclining seat can "break" at the hinge (also allowing your body to move), thus preventing you from getting crushed.
-The "race" system (for lack of a better term; harness, one-piece seat, rollbar/cage) is also designed to work AS a "system." In the event of a rollover, the harness and seat will keep you upright, but the rollbar/cage will be there to keep the roof from crushing you.
-If you use the harness and/or seat without a rollbar, a rollover can result in the roof coming down on you while you are held upright. Think of stepping on a soda can, and relate that to what can happen to your spine. That doesn't mean it WILL happen, but honestly, why take that chance? It's your damn SPINE we're talking about. When I dig them up, I'll post pics of rollovers so everyone has a clear idea of how bad that can be.
-If you use a rollbar/cage with the stock reclining seat, ANY collision CAN result in the seat contacting or going under the harness bar, which could then result in your head contacting that same harness bar. Generally, head-metal tubing contact is bad, whether you're wearing a helmet or not (but especially bad if you're not). Again, that doesn't mean it WILL happen, only that it can.
-The "Correct" or "Smart" way of doing this is to put these things in your car AS a system. Don't have enough money to buy them all at once? No problem. Either set the money aside until you do, or buy them piecemeal and leave them out of the car until you have all the components. Some organizations now require all of these things to be present as a system, or else you have to remain completely stock. For competitive racing, the entire "race" system must be present."
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:57 PM
The number one cause of death in a rollover is being thrown from the car. The OEM reclining seats in cars are not meant to collapse in a rollover. The restraints, side airbags, etc that protect you in a crash would not work if they did. Only people who think seat belts kill more people than they save think there is a danger in being crushed by the roof in a rollover, and that's a whole different ball of yarn.

Note: I'm not talking about rally racing, or any other form of motorsports. Nor am I saying you shouldn't design a roll cage to protect from roof crushing. I'm just saying the way OEM systems are designed to work is that reclining seats are not meant to collapse in any kind of accident.
Sarah Forst
Sarah Forstlink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:37 PM
@JSWORKS: which is why I wrote "tries to be." It's invitation only because spaces are limited, but they do encourage those who may not be completely experienced to take a crack at it. As a novice, I'd probably only have the balls (or my equivalent...) to run at 50% myself even if Trump bankrolled my safety equipment so IMO, it's definitely an expensive endeavor to take on but there's no required experience or horsepower so it's still somewhat grassroots.

@Kenku: You're probably right in this sue happy country. I've rappelled down 100' cliffs in New Zealand and ziplined in Costa Rica without signing a simple release of liability. If that steering wheel is in your hands and there's no gun to your head, you should accept responsibility for your fate, esp. in any situation that you already know is dangerous.

Do I think the cages should be stronger? Probably, but sometimes it takes a crash like this to point out these things...

Of course, I also see people occasionally drive their roll bar or roll caged cars on the street without a helmet! What do you think happens in a minor crash?

@Burninator and Boro: all interesting info. I've been rearended and the seat stayed upright- no airbag either; about 35mph but perfect bumper to bumper contact. I also was one car ahead of a car that got rear ended (managed to "outrun" becoming involved myself) and that drivers seat completely collapsed at the hinge which means I was staring in my rear view mirror at a driverless car aimed my way.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:37 PM
@Sarah: Speaking as someone whose day job ties in with accident reconstruction, and who worked at a crash test facility for a while... I've actually always been skeptical of the people who scream doom over roll cages/etc on street vehicles. Okay, granted, if things aren't laid out very carefully and the tubes are really close to the driver there's an issue... but it shouldn't be. Besides, the stuff under the plastic trim on production cars is pretty darn hard too, and I've seen the crash dummy accelerometer traces to prove it. ;) Now, I personally wouldn't do a cage in a street car, but that's more because I'm big enough that positioning everything in a race car so it's safe is hard enough.

As for safety/litigation issues... look what happened to Group B rally when people died - that could well happen here, and it's nigh miraculous it hasn't yet over the event's history. And it wouldn't even necessarily be drivers or their families suing... imagine a driver got seriously hurt, went into a hospital and needed surgery... the insurance company would definitely be asking the Pikes Peak organizing body some questions on a witness stand about why the safety standards were what they are. Or a spectator. Or a bunch of them.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:45 PM
I agree that not ALL roll bars are completely unsafe for the street, but the VAST majority of them are people running some sort of bolt in affair that was designed to be able to BOLT IN and as such is night closely measured to stay well away from a drivers head and hug tightly to the roof line etc... I suppose just like we are discussing if you knowingly take the risk then don't cry foul (if you still can) if your brain gets scrambled.

Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:50 PM
Yeah, I can't argue any of that, I actually forgot about bolt in cages and clunking helmets against them. Though now I think about it, I'd actually be interested to see how much worse a head striking a piece of tube with SFI padding on it would be compared to hitting an A-pillar/whatever.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Friday, December 21, 2012 2:06 PM
First off, I want to thank the car owners for showing everyone what the car looked like after the crash. All too often damaged cars are hidden from view and we all lose the opportunity to learn from them. A close examination of the failure points on this cage can teach you a lot about why different types of cages are needed for different kinds of motorsport.

Every place that road racing cage is bent, there's a required bar or gusset or reinforcement to prevent it on a rally cage. Rally cars tumble down hills all the time. Road racers don't.
Friday, December 21, 2012 3:08 PM
As someone who's seen shit hit the fan in spectacular fashion up on Pikes Peak over the years and as a fellow competitor, I tried to impress upon these guys that "minimum PPIHC spec" wasn't necessarily the best way to approach this race. I was told I had no clue what I was talking about:


I'm just glad these guys survived, and hopefully for anyone in the future who considers strapping in in the navvie seat will give a little pause, inspect their half of the car, and if it doesn't have the same bracing or quality of safety equipment...walk away.
Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:18 PM
Dave Coleman: we totally agree with what you said. showing people the results of such a bad crash, what worked, what didn't, where it can be improved is critical for racing as a whole.

I had the opportunity to speak with the builder of Ken Blocks WRC car and many other WRC cars in england/europe at the RECARO preparty for the LA autoshow. I was blown away with some of the things he said about how they design the cages in the WRC cars. it is largely designed by people getting hurt and or dying. rules change when someone gets hurt and they analyze the failure points, and correct for it.

Kens car, which he showed me in person, uses far more tubes then what you'll find on a NASA road race car. HOWEVER, the tubes they use, are thinner, and smaller diameter. The WRC philosphy recently has been to use a lot of tubes, with lots of triangulation, creating essentially a web of tubes, rather then a few very strong tubes, which is what we had.

they also do a number of things such as filling the front doors with impact foam to help impact attenuation. it allows them to use the X style bars, yet the loading gets transfered to the main tubes. that wouldnt have helped in our case where the doors ripped clean off the car, but it made perfect sense if you were to side swipe a tree/rock/etc.

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