2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Celebrates 100 Years
On June 26, the 2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) –– “The Race to the Clouds” –– celebrated the 100th year of the annual invitational automobile/motorcycle competition to the summit of “America’s Mountain.”
The second oldest motor sports race in America is held outside Colorado Springs, Colorado, the final Sunday of June. Sponsored by Gran Turismo, a Sony video game company, the race produces an overall winner and class winners in sidecars, motorcycles, semi-trucks, 1,400-plus horsepower electric vehicles and unlimited racers.
This year’s winners were led by Romain Dumas, first overall and in the Unlimited Class, driving a 2016 Norma M20 RD, 08:51.445; Rhys Millen, first in Electric − Electric Modified, 2016 eO PP100, 08:57.118; and Layne Schranz, Pikes Peak Challenge − Pikes Peak Open, 2015 Chevrolet SS, 09:53.071.
The world record is 08:13.878, set by Sebastien Loeb in 2013. The first year, 1916, the winning time was 20:55.6 by Rea Lentz in a Romano Special.
Spencer Penrose, who also founded the landmark Broadmoor Hotel, the Pikes Peak Highway and El Pomar Foundation, began the event in 1916, when the 12.42 miles of the Pikes Peak Highway opened through Pike National Forest to the 14,115-foot summit.
The course challenges drivers with 156 turns, as they climb 4,720 feet from the 9,390-foot starting line to the finish. As they ascend, the thin air saps their capabilities as well as the internal combustion engines of up to 30 percent of the power available at the start –– hence the recent ascendancy of electric vehicles.
The competitors and the gallery also enjoy one of the world’s great scenic wonders. Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after visiting the summit in 1893, and the park hosts 5.9 million visitors a year, making it the number-one tourist attraction in Colorado. Of the world’s mountains, only Mount Fuji attracts more guests annually.
“I think Mr. Spencer Penrose would be proud of the 100th anniversary of this historic event,” says Megan Leatham, executive director. “The competitors raced strategically and with determination. Pikes Peak was filled with spectators watching the event, and the media coverage was worldwide.”
For more information on this year’s and next year’s event, see ppihc.com.