Photo: Larry Chen

Since the beginning of time, men have partaken in competitions with each other. In the dark ages, knights would ride on horseback towards one other at full speed while pointing a long, sharp, metal pole at their opponent with the idea of either killing him on impact, or at least knocking him off of his horse, only to shove a sword through his heart afterwards. Usually just for fun.

In the modern era, where some people get their jollies throwing a ball around while either wearing shorts or a pair of tights, people like us prefer to strap on our helmets, latch into a 5-point racing harness, and climb behind a wheel of a 4-wheeled metal cage with gobs of horsepower only to prove that we’re faster than the other guy. Be it drag racing, autocross, road racing… whatever. The animalistic competitive nature that lies within us all is alive and well once we strap ourselves in the seat of our high-powered machines.

Enter the Spectre 341 Challenge. Set on Highway 341 just south of Virginia City, Nevada, an event takes place that pits man and machine against the twisty, curvy roads covering the hills that Mother Nature had created over time. 2011 marked the second annual event that involves 22 turns in a span of 5.2 miles, while managing to climb uphill at an elevation of 1,216 feet at the same time. Pretty intense stuff, but the real challenge isn’t simply getting up the hill without crashing, but to do so in the shortest amount of time possible. Now we’re talking.

As an added bonus, the number “341” has a double meaning; in conjunction of it being the highway designation, it’s also the bar that’s been set by the original founders of what was originally called the Virginia City Hill Climb that spawned in 1972, all the way until its demise in 2002. If an entrant can get to the top of the hill in three minutes, forty-one seconds (or less), they earn a spot in the “3:41 Club.” Six new people were added to this exclusive club last year alone. The current record-holder is Spectre Performance founder, Amir Rosenbaum of a time in 3:10 that he had previously posted while piloting his Ferrari F40.

Lou Gigliotti, the "LG" in LG Motorsports

Speaking of last year, Lou Gigliotti of LG Motorsports broke the previous record time for Corvettes (3:33.47) in his mildly modified 2010 ZR1. Of course when we say mildly modified, what we really mean is Lou initially spec’d his car up by installing a few simple bolt-ons and the required safety equipment. But not being content with setting a new record of 3:21.79, the team at LGM decided it was time to up the ante by trying to break its own record this year.

But it wasn’t just the engine that would require an upgrade on Lou’s Vette; the car received a whole host of modifications to compliment his previous work, which included LG Super Pro long-tube headers, upgraded pulleys, an LG/Tilton carbon clutch package, a G1 sway bar package, an upgraded carbon fiber front splitter, and a GT2 rear spoiler. This year however, the engine mods have been cranked up to 11, as it’s also packing a heads/cam package, an upgraded intercooler, and an upgraded cooling system, resulting in over 700 ponies-plus to the rear wheels.

Photo: LG Motorsports

Replacing last year’s Forgeline EV1 18-inchers wrapped in Toyo RA1 rubber (as seen in the pics), this time around the Zee is rolling on Forgeline GA3R 19s, shod in Hoosier racing slicks at all four corners. The goal was to shore up the few shortcomings discovered in last year’s effort, and showcase the LG Motorsports catalog, of course.

This yeat’s 341 Challenge is in the history books, and the unofficial results have Gigliotti in number one with a best run of 3:14.449. Keep an eye on Spectre’s blog page for the official word – for future reference, the event costs $341 to enter, and plans for next year’s festivities are well underway. Will you be there?