Press Release

June 27, 2000
For more information,
Contact: Bob Legere
Mather Motorsports


East Hartford, CT -- This year's Audi Mt. Washington Hillclimb, held in Gorham, New Hampshire this past weekend, was an event to remember. It marked Tim Mather's ninth year as a competitor in this prestigious event, driving his 1991 Nissan Sentra SE once again up the legendary Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Mather, from East Hartford, CT, has competed for many years in a variety of motorsports activities including ice racing, auto cross, Sports Car Club of America ProRally, roadracing and hillclimbing. Competing in the prestigious Mt. Washington Hillclimb for the first time in 1992, Mather has always done well, but never has been able to claim the victory he always knew he and his Nissan Sentra was capable of. That is, until this year.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road, where the historic race takes place, is 7.4 miles in length and comprised of 65% asphalt and 35% hard-packed gravel. From start to finish the elevation along the road gains 4,555 feet, has an average grade of 12%, a maximum grade of 18%, seventy distinct corners, a "long" straight-a-way of only 3/10 of a mile, and some of the most breathtaking terrain in the world. Seldom is the road ever wider than 25 feet at any one place along the route, yet the fastest drivers in the race will average over 65 mph during their race to the finish.

For the 2000 event at Mt. Washington, sixty-two drivers were prepared to race, yet only fifty finished. While most of the cars that failed to finish had mechanical failures, there were two unfortunate incidents.

Driving an Acura Integra, Bert Cox from Weare, NH, lost control of his car just above tree-line during Saturday's practice session and slid over 350 feet down the mountainside. Unhurt, Cox walked back up to the road under his own power where he was looked at by Safety Officials before being released. During the first run on Sunday, at just about four miles along the course, Ray Blethen of Bow, NH, clipped a bolder with his left front tire and ended up flipping his Ford Mustang GT onto its roof.

Obviously both drivers were shaken up a bit, and Blethen did suffer some minor injuries, but thanks to the strict safety guidelines enforced by the sanctioning body - Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) - and the event officials, both drivers walked away virtually unhurt.

Above all else, Mather Motorsports has always stressed safety when constructing a race car. Mather's Nissan has been purposely built to ensure his safety while competing at this level of competition. The 1991 Sentra SE ran extremely well throughout the weekend after recently having a Legere Motorsports-prepared GA16 DE engine freshened up by PMR Performance. Mather was also enjoying the precision of new suspension components provided by a new sponsor, Energy Suspension.

During the first day of practice on Friday, when racers had a chance to check their cars out on the lower half of the mountain, Tim's instincts proved to be correct. Not only was his car quicker than he'd ever experienced, he'd posted a time at the end of practice which was good enough for first in Class 3, as well as seventh overall! Surprisingly, the car was being run in full road-race trim, with stiff spring settings and anti-roll bars as well as custom Leda Struts from England set at their mid-point adjustment. Mather had also installed hand-grooved Hoosier roadrace tires prior to making his practice runs. The hand-grooving of the race tires was a compromise of sorts, since some time was lost on the asphalt in order to make the car more drivable on the dirt sections of the course.

Saturday brought with it beautiful weather, ensuring full-course runs to the summit of the mountain. Over the years, the weather on Mt. Washington has been known to change at a moment's notice, sometimes limiting visibility on the upper sections to no more than ten feet. So, for the first of the planned two full-course practice runs to the top, Mathers prayers were answered. Six seconds were knocked off his previous best time. To make things even better, he retained his lead in Class 3 and remained seventh overall in the standings. During an interview after practice, Mather commented, "the Nissan Sentra SE had never run or handled better! I was hoping to break my old personal best time on the mountain of 7 minutes, 42 seconds which I set last year during practice."

Ironically, just as Mather lined his Nissan Sentra SE up at the starting line in preparation for his second run up the hill, practice was called as the event had run on too late into the day and the mountain road needed to be re-opened to the public. There would always be Sunday - raceday.

As Sunday dawned, things were not looking good. The weather was ominously overcast, the top of the mountain was in the clouds - this was not a good sign. No rain, but visibility from six miles up was less than fifty feet due to fog. At 60 mph, this was not an option. So, event Chief Steward John Buffum and Auto Road General Manager Howie Wemyss decided to shorten the event to 6 miles instead of the scheduled 7.4 miles for safety reasons.

There would be no course records this year, as only Sunday's results counted in the record books. Current champion and overall record holder Frank Sprongl from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was visibly disappointed. He was hoping to break his own record of 6 minutes, 41.99 seconds set back in 1998. But, conditions wouldn't allow it this weekend.

After opening ceremonies at the base, driver's lined up to take on the shorter course. Tim posted a time of a 5 minutes 50.48 seconds for the 5.7 mile climb. He was clipping corners, running the car to the red-line through the gears and drifting precariously close to the edges in an all-out attempt to win his class. As luck would have it, Mathers efforts paid off extremely well. When all was said and done and the final results were posted, the next closest in-class competitor was the Integra Type R, recording a time of 5 minutes 54.12 seconds - nearly 4 seconds back! The Integra had run faster than the Nissan on the lower half of the mountain by nearly two seconds showcasing the higher horsepower advantage, but Mather made up for it on the more technically challenging gravel sections on the upper half of the mountain, taking back 6 seconds.

Upon completion of the first run however, massive clouds moved in and a tornado warning was issued by the Mt. Washington Observatory. Given this information, Chief Steward John Buffum and Auto Road General Manager Howie Wemyss made the decision to call the race after the first run rather than risk injury to the hundreds of spectators, volunteers and radio operators positioned along the mountain road.

So, in an abbreviated Audi Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Tim Mather, claimed his first Class 3 victory in nine attempts and finished 8th overall against some of the best sportscar drivers in America. Considering the power-to-weight ratio of Mathers street-legal, smog-legal, 1.6 litre Nissan Sentra, these results are nothing short of spectacular.

Corner workers from top to bottom commented on the speeds at which Mather was driving, showcasing his ability to extract the most from the least, as well as the phenomenal roadholding his Nissan exhibited. Given this year's results, Mather and his team are already looking forward to returning to Mt. Washington in hopes of improving their time at next year's Audi Mt. Washington Hillclimb!

Mather Motorsports receives sponsorship assistance from the following businesses: Acceleration Pluss - aftermarket accessories and speed parts, Energy Suspension - urethane suspension bushings, PMR Performance - precision engine machining and assembly, Legere Motorsports Development - all engine design, head porting, suspension design and tuning, header fabrication, rollcage fabrication, at-track servicing, Airborn Coatings - ceramic coatings and powdercoating, Leda Suspension Ltd. - custom adjustable coil-over struts, DeCormier Nissan - original Nissan parts and service.

For more information on Mather Motorsports, contact Bob Legere at or visit the Mather Motorsports web site at

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