Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Information
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the 5 a.m. echo of race engines
from distant mountain cliffs. It is the sweet forest aroma at the starting
line; it is the intense colors of bright racing machines dancing through
a soft backcountry pallet.
The race is held on Pikes Peak, the 14,110-foot matron of the Rocky
Mountains, a massive peak that rises abruptly from the Colorado plains.
Visible from hundreds of miles away, it has attracted and inspired people
for thousands of years. The peak is called America's Mountain and the
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a part of its history and future.
The Hill Climb is a unique auto and motorcycle race that combines a
tricky gravel course, the thin air two miles above sea level, cutting-edge
technology, and gutsy drivers who reach for their dreams as they charge
toward the sky. It is the second oldest motorsports event in the U.S.
Only the Indianapolis 500 is older.
The race showcases the rumble of Ford and Chevrolet stock cars, the
screaming engines of SAAB, Suzuki, Porsche and Mitsubishi sports cars.
The competitors move around 90 mph with earth-shaking power in Class
8 diesel trucks. Other attractions include the mad start of the motorcycle
race, when five riders at a time charge up the road like a mechanical
posse in hot pursuit.
Race drivers have challenged the mountain since 1916, when a young man
named Rea Lentz won the first race with a time of 20 minutes, 55.6 seconds.
Since then the crafty driving of New Zealander Rod Millen has sliced
that time in half and today owns the race's overall record of 10:04.06.
It is more than race founder Spencer Penrose could have imagined. He
built the Pikes Peak Highway and created the first race as a way to
promote its magical pathway to the clouds. He had no plans for the event
to become one of the world's classic races.
The race is about people, some 160 drivers and riders, men and women,
some who run to win, but most who seek personal challenge on a white-knuckle
racecourse. It is some 500 volunteers, regular working people, whose
time and energy fuel the event.
It is Japan's Nobuhiro Tajima, a superstar in his homeland, a giant
but gentle person determined to permanently carve his name in granite
as Pikes Peak's fastest driver. It is Sweden's Per Eklund, a 54-year-old
rally driver who attacks the road as if he were 20. It is Monaco's Jean
Pierre Richelmi, determined to win again.
It is the confidence of Bobby Unser who learned to race on Pikes and
Peak, who with 13 victories is the Hill Climb's winningest driver, who
knows he could run and win again.
It is the young guns, Clint Vahsholtz, undefeated in eight starts on
Pikes Peak, Layne Schranz, Chandler Bruning, Jimmy Keeney and Tyler
Casebier. It is motorcycle racers Davey Durelle and Brian Anderson,
friendly rivals who pal around when they're not leaning into a hairpin
It is the patience and persistence of the local drivers, Lynn Cowan,
Gay Smith, Steve Goeglein and others, who look at the mountain in its
January cloak of snow and dream of a summer day when they'll reach the
summit in first place.
It is a dangerous sprint of 12.4 miles, a test of intelligence and awareness.
It is straight-aways at 130 mph plus, 156 gravel turns where comet tails
of granite dust rise and fall to earth. It is cliffs of 2,000 feet with
It is the dedication of the late Nick Sanborn and Bill Daniels. It is
the race's oldtimers, who reunite each year on the mountain to relive
their colorful past and laugh aloud. It is the courage of the late Ralph
Bruning an eight-time winner in the stock car race, whose battle with
terminal cancer taught so many how to live.
It is a family event, where race fans of all ages can enjoy a day on
the mountain and marvel the competition. It is a defining event for
Colorado Springs. It is enjoyed and supported the world over by an international
audience. It is televised in 56 countries by ESPN2.