The Crown Range in Queenstown, New Zealand differs from Pikes Peak, Colorado in several ways. It’s shorter, at 6.46 miles compared to 12.42 miles, features less turns – 47 versus 156, yet climbs 1,076 metres compared to the longer course’s 1,430 metres.
So it’s twisty, very twisty.
Like Pikes Peak, the run up to the Crown Summit is all tarmac, so it’s also fast, with speeds of up to 145mph being possible during the climb.
It’s a former state highway which cuts a path between Queenstown and Wanaka – a short cut which has long been a route for travellers during the early gold-rush days and the country’s highest paved roadway.
The gold may have disappeared, but drifter Mike Whiddett was still in a hurry to reach its summit.
For the climb, ‘Mad Mike’ used a 750bhp Mazda RX7 complete with bespoke quad-rotor rotary engine. The road was then closed across three sections and he set out to ‘conquer the Crown’.
The run up to the Crown Summit is a fusion of high, medium and low speed bends, created to attack sideways.
With barriers flanking the road at one side and exposed banks at the other, it mimics the mountain touge roads that the sport’s Japanese forefathers originally, and illicitly, ran by moonlight. The margin for error is slim, but Whiddett never backs off as the final forty-seventh corner passes by in a blur.
“I think drifters have an innate ability to slip from reality when driving up a road like the Crown Range in normal circumstances. We imagine drifting through the turns, the gear changes, the footwork, the hand brake and of course stomping on the gas.” says Whiddett.
“So for me, having the opportunity to get behind the wheel of my machine, push it to the limit and conquer the Crown is a dream turned into a reality.”