From Home - The Denver Post LITTLETON â€” Doughnuts helped buy Savannah Rickli's first go-kart. Now, Rickli hopes to parlay that childhood campaign to the top of Pikes Peak. Rickli always has possessed a craving for speed. At age 11, she sold enough doughnuts through a fundraiser for a school field trip to Washington, D.C. Money that Rickli's grandmother had sent to cover the trip was instead combined with saved allowances for $1,050 toward a 1995 Margay Chassis equipped with a Briggs & Stratton 5-horsepower engine. Fiona is her name. Sweet! Rickli, a 16-year-old junior at Dakota Ridge High, is set to be the youngest female ever to race in the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which fields more than 160 drivers and racers, including 14 returning champions. The nation's second-oldest motorsports race at 88 years (behind the Indianapolis 500) is run on a 12.42-mile course that climbs 4,720 feet to finish at 14,110 feet, where temperatures are expected to top out at 48 degrees Sunday. As the air becomes thinner, fatigue sets in for the car and its driver. "My head is just spinning," said Savannah's mother, Carol. "She has always said for many, many years that she wanted to race the Hill Climb, and I didn't expect it to be this soon. But we have always encouraged her to follow her dreams." The age requirement for Sunday's race is 18, but a long-standing relationship coupled with confidence in Rickli's resume allowed race director Phil Layton to approve her application. A realization struck Rickli as she drove down Interstate 25 on Tuesday. "Pikes Peak was just staring at me. It was emotional," Rickli said. "It's kind of all starting to hit me, and I'm starting to realize that I am a part of (Sunday's race)." Rickli's first major investment paid off within a year of the purchase date. In 2006 she drove the red kart to a junior championship on a national race tour, and in 2007 and 2008 she won junior championships in a local division for racers age 12-16. "Fiona" rested in the garage until last summer, when Rickli ended the relationship, selling her first love for $1,100 as she sought to increase her competitiveness. Rickli contacted SCR Performance manager Grant Barclay, who placed her in a 2003 Mini Cooper S in January. Now she's attempting to become the youngest â€” at 16 years, 334 days â€” to make it to the top of the hill. Anthony Marcovich â€” two months younger than Rickli when he tried the climb July 3, 1999, fell short of reaching the top. Rewind to the Indianapolis 500, May 28, 2000. Rickli, then 7, was in the crowd watching 19-year-old Sarah Fisher make history as the youngest woman to compete at the Brickyard. Although Rickli didn't fully understand the meaning of Fisher's accomplishment at the time, she does now. "Now looking back on it, that was huge," Rickli said. In two days, Rickli steps into similar shoes. "Comparing myself to Sarah Fisher and other drivers, we are all women who are passionate about what we want to do, and we're going out there to succeed and do our best," Rickli said. Enter the Rickli household in Littleton and it doesn't take long to figure out how much racing means to this family. Race-themed photographs decorate the dinning room. There's a picture of Rickli posing with her family outside the Indy 500 racetrack a decade ago. A photo of Rickli sporting a confident smirk and one of her sponsor's logos on a plain black T-shirt. A photo, taken in March, of Rickli standing beside her yellow Mini Cooper at High Plains Raceway in Byers. Racing fuels the Rickli home. The family attends between 25 and 30 races a year. Carol fell in love with racing at the same time she fell in love with her husband, Neil. As race officials for the past six years, Carol and Neil will be positioned 1 mile up from where Rickli will start the race. Together, they have been ice-racing competitively for 27 years, driving a 1964 Jeep CJ5. Rickli and her brother, David, adopted their parents' passion for the sport at an early age. Rickli read a book titled "Bob Bondurant on Race Kart Driving," inspiring her to pay for her way through driving school while winning a few championships on the side. All of which has led to her big moment Sunday, when Rickli makes her debut in the Time Attack two-wheel-drive division alongside navigator Rebecca Greek, who has navigated Pikes Peak five times. They are the only all-female team in their division. "I am feeling pretty good," Greek said Wednesday. "Savannah and I spent a lot of time preparing for the event and everything went well over the last two practice days. The main goal is just to finish the event, and I feel we are on track to reach that goal." The two experienced success on the mountain in practice runs over two days of training earlier this month. After making a combined 156 turns en route to the top, Rickli and Greek celebrated by dousing each other in age-appropriate apple cider. "I'm looking forward to standing at the top and giving Rebecca that huge hug once we cross the finish line knowing that we did it," Rickli said. How else does Rickli plan to celebrate if she makes it to the top? "Doughnuts!" That would satisfy Rickli's hunger after the biggest challenge of her budding racing career. "The elevation makes the doughnuts really good," Rickli said, smiling.