Pikes Peak International
Hill Climb Display!
The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest motor sports race in America and a long-standing tradition in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. First competed in 1916 and this year marks the 92nd running of the “Race to the Clouds.”
The race is run on a 12.42 mile course with 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110 foot summit of America’s Mountain; Pikes Peak! As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. The thin air also robs engines of 30% of their power at the summit. Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape simply to finish…let alone win!
The current record is 09:46.164 and was set by Rhys Millen in 2012.
There is no other race course in the world like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. That is why it attracts race crews that are willing to spend several hundred thousand dollars and months of preparation to compete for the right to be the King of the Mountain.
Commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to explore the Great Plains, Lt. Zebulon Pike first saw Pikes Peak in 1806 from the eastern portion of today’s Colorado in 1806. As he approached the magnificent peak, rising abruptly from the plains, Pike swore this 14,110-foot mountain would never be conquered by man.
Zebulon Pike never scaled the mountain which bears his name. But today, Pikes Peak has been climbed by tourists from all over the world in cars, on horseback, on foot, on motorcycle and bicycle. Most visitors are overcome by its beauty, including Katherine Lee Bates, who was inspired by the view from the summit to compose America the Beautiful in 1893.
Pike could have imagined neither motorcars nor the automobile race course which would conclude at the summit of his peak a little over a century after his first sighting. By 1900, a carriage road had been built. On August 12, 1901, two Denver men named Yont and Felker were the first to drive to the top. Their trip in a two-cylinder Locomobile Steamer took just over nine hours and was accomplished by pushing as well as driving their motorcar.
Spencer Penrose, one of Colorado Springs’ city’s major benefactors and founder of the famous Broadmoor Hotel, realized the tourist potential of such a beautiful landmark. In 1915 Penrose finished converting the narrow carriage road into the Pikes Peak Highway. In order to publicize his adopted hometown and his new road he devised a simple plan; run an automobile race to the summit of Pikes Peak on the new highway.
Photo Above: A Chevrolet car #20 driven by W.P. (Wild Bill) Bentrup. He finished 1st in 1920 with a time of 24:05 1/5 and 2nd in 1921 with a time of 22:19 in Event 1. Event 1 was for cars with piston displacement of less than 230 cubic inches. This photograph was taken in 1921.
Courtesy of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Association for verbiage and photos.