Pikes Peak is one of the most challenging hill climbs on the planet, and finishing at the head of the pack requires skill and creativity in equal amounts. This year, a racer named Tony Quinn traveled all the way from New Zealand and showed up on the starting line with what is unquestionably the meanest-looking Ford Focus we’ve ever seen.
It’s immediately obvious that this is no standard, economy-focused Focus hatchback. It’s not even a hot-rodded RS; it’s a purpose-built race car that makes the RS look tame and good-natured. Most of the car was built from scratch by Pace Innovations, which documented the process on its official Facebook page. The fenders are significantly wider to cover up the kind of extra-large tires required to transfer loads of power to the pavement. There’s also a sizable splitter that keeps the car glued to the ground, a spoiler out back, and a hole in the hood that suggests the engine isn’t between the front wheels anymore.
It’s not the stock engine, either. Under the one-off body panels is a 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine borrowed from the Nissan GT-R and tuned to provide a whopping 850 horsepower. It sends its grunt to all four wheels, which explains the need for massive fender flares and the rest of the body kit.
From the video, it looks and sounds like Quinn is ready to dominate Pikes Peak. While he was off to a good start, luck wasn’t on his side this year. The Focus began having issues about two weeks before the race. He thought the problems were all fixed, but the car’s brakes completely failed about two miles before the end of the race. “The brake warning light kept coming on and kept coming on, but we never really took any notice of it,” Quinn told New Zealand’s Stuff.
He wisely decided to retire instead of risking his life by finishing the race without the ability to stop, which is of utmost importance even in an event where racers spend more time going uphill than down. Quinn is disappointed because he felt like he was on track to get a good time, but he’s determined to come back next year and try again.
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