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‘It Drives Like It Looks-Like a Space Ship’
Saturday, July 24, 2021


Whitney Werth Slade slid into the seat of a $3.8-million shiny black Pagani Huayra Roaster BC. Spotting a little replica of the Italian supercar on the dashboard, she motioned a reporter over.

 “Look! This is the key!” said the Sun Valley Tour de Force co-founder, turning the tiny model of the car that can travel 236 mile per hour over in her hand.

The supercar—one of only 40 made--is among the sportscars that have roared into Sun Valley this week for the fourth annual Sun Valley Tour de Force.

The unique three-day event included an opportunity for the public to see the cars closeup last night. Its signature event takes place today when sportscar owners have a chance to see how fast their cars go on 3.2 miles of highway north of Ketchum near Phantom Hill.

The top speed so far? Just over 253 miles per hour recorded by a Bugatti Chiron in 2019.

On Friday morning Dave Stone’s Sun Valley Auto Club in Hailey was a beehive of activity as some 50 cars bearing license plates like “crzyfst” and “emptnst” rolled in for inspection prior to today’s high-speed drive.

One by one, cars entered bays where technicians cleared them for the high-speed drive. Eachcar  got a bubble bath, the suds apparently chasing away any speck of dirt that might have impaired the aerodynamics of the car shooting for 200 miles per hour.

Among the drivers is Michael Holdsworth, a Prescott, Ariz., man who is taking part in his fourth annual Sun Valley Tour de Force. He’s gone over 200 miles per hour—once you go past a certain speed it all becomes a blur and a matter of keeping that pedal to the floor, he said.

This time he’s testing his Porsche GT3RS, anxious to see just how a car whose motto is “get the most out of every second” will do.

“I don’t expect it to go quite as fast—it’s wing or downforce makes it good for race tracks because it allows you to corner at higher speeds.  But it’s not as good for attaining top speed on the straightaways,” he said. “Still, it’ll be fun to test it out. And I enjoy the camaraderie with the other drivers.”

Chase Englehart pulled up in his McLaren Sabre, one of just 15 made by McLaren special operations in Woking, England.

The car is all carbon fiber, versus aluminum and steel, which makes is upper light, he said. With 824 horsepower, it’s twice as powerful as other cars.

“It’s drives like it looks—like a space ship,” he said.

While many of the sports cars roared like a lion—their roar matching that of the airplanes at nearby Friedman Memorial Airport, the new kids on the block did not.

Porsche’s all-electric vehicle, the 2021 Taycan RWD starts at $79,900, and were ultra-quiet, their ride like being on a cloud. Every eighth Porsche now being sold globally is the all-electric Taycan. It’s become Porsche’s best-selling car in Europe.

The official EPA estimate puts them at just over 200 miles per charge, said Brandon Watson, area trainer for Porsche, the sponsor of the Tour de Force. “But I and others have gotten 250 miles out of them.”

Porsche also has gotten into the eBike business this summer with cross and sport eBikes that start at $8,000. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the 24K gold Extreme Mountain Bike, designed by Hugh Power and selling for a million dollars.

Porsche’s eBikes are more down to earth—with a difference, according to Watson: “They have a feel that’s unmistakably Porsche.”


The cars will race most of the day on Phantom Hill portion of Highway 75 north of Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters.

Sun Valley Tour de Force does not have a special events permit to host spectators with restrooms, tents, bleachers or food trucks this year. But hikers and mountain bikers using the Harriman Trail are welcome to view the cars in action, provided they stay 300 feet off the road.

Motorists driving Highway 75 should be prepared for delays with the highway closed for up to 20 minutes at a time.

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