As Acura prepares to uncover a refreshed 2018 TLX street car at the New York Auto Show, Wisconsin motorsport team RealTime Racing is also working on updating another TLX at its shop outside of Milwaukee. After a brief retirement following the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season, the TLX-GT race car is returning to active duty to tackle the 2017 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June.
We last saw the RealTime TLX-GT trading blows with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Porsches, Bentleys and Cadillacs in the Pirelli World Challenge series at road courses and temporary street circuits in the US and Canada. RealTime campaigned the car from 2014 to 2016, collecting three race wins along the way before it was replaced by the NSX GT3 for the 2017 season.
RealTime team principle Peter Cunningham will pilot the No. 42 Pikes Peak TLX up the 12.42-mile course, navigating 156 turns and climbing 4,725 feet in elevation from start to finish.
Modifications to turn the TLX from circuit racer to hill climber focus on the drivetrain, suspension, aerodynamics and reliability in hopes of finishing the grueling event. A highlight of the upgrades list is the return of all-wheel drive, which was previously dropped for the 2016 World Challenge season.
The TLX will compete in the Pikes Peak Open class, which requires entries to be based on a model built by a recognized manufacturer, and appear visually identical to its production vehicle counterpart. Approved fender flairs, spoilers and other aerodynamic bits are allowed, while frames, suspension and brakes are all open. Any wheel sizes and widths are allowed as long as they're fully covered by fenders.
Cunningham and his team will roll into Pikes Peak as hill climb racing rookies, but taking on the second-oldest motorsport in America was something that seemed bound to happen. "It's definitely something I wanted to do, but there was always a conflict with other races," says Cunningham.
With Cunningham stepping away from full-time driving duties last year, and having a retired but still formidable race car looking for work, the stars have aligned for the winningest driver in World Challenge history to finally cross Pikes Peak off his bucket list.
Look for Cunningham and 63 other drivers to take on the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 25.