The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been a staple motorsport events for nearly a century now. It’s a challenging, twisting, two-lane test of man and machine that demands nothing less than the absolute best. This annual “Race to Clouds” has seen its fair share of casualties, including the recent passing of motorcyclist Carl Sorensen. All told, even with extensive experience, the best possible preparation and ideal conditions, America’s Mountain is still capable of thwarting any effort at conquering its summit. It’s a lesson that professional racer and Motor Trend test driver Randy Pobst learned firsthand this June, and it’s all documented in this fascinating 20-minute video.
The video begins three months before race day, with Pobst narrating the lead-up to his return to Colorado. Presented with a fleet of high-end sports cars to choose from, Pobst ended up going with Godzilla: the Nissan GT-R. The reason? “Driver confidence!” Pobst declares.
What he’s handed is a 700-horsepower race-prepped beast that simply won’t cooperate. Parts break, the handling is fussy, and Pobst loses some of his confidence. Development is thrown into overdrive, and the pressure is on to make the GT-R ready.
On go the wrenches and the testing is non-stop. Parts are swapped, settings are tweaked, and Pobst grapples with the realities of what it means to put the spurs to his new ride.
Finally, the GT-R feels ready for Pikes Peak. But the real battle begins when Pobst begins his ill-fated ascent.
Honda and Acura weren’t racing in any official capacity at the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, but watching this video of the 2016 Acura NSX pace car charging up the treacherous mountain road, you’d be forgiven for assuming otherwise.
Honda public relations senior manager Sage Marie piloted the NSX and led the field of 140 entrants up the 156-turn, 12.4-mile course to over 14,000 feet above sea level. PR guys (and most automotive journalists despite what they tell you) usually aren’t known for their skills behind the wheel, but Sage is the exception to the rule. He’s won in Pirelli World Challenge B-Spec racing and previously competed at Pikes Peak in 2012 and 2014. He it knows well, because he certainly doesn’t leave much out on the course for this run.
Aside from its unique Pikes Peak pace car livery, this is a near-production-spec NSX, meaning it’s powered by a mid-mounted twin-turbo V-6 displacing 3.5 liters. The ICE is supplemented by three electric motors, two directly powering each of the front wheels and the third mounted between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission.
No official numbers have been released, but we’re expecting the NSX to have well over 500 horsepower. The torque-vectoring front motors should also endow it with physics defying handling. Plus, with an estimated price of around $150,000, it should be a good $1 million cheaper than those fast hybrids from Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren. But, the question remains if it’ll be able to teach the exotics a few new lessons like its predecessor did.
Until we find out, enjoy the Pikes Peak video and checkout our full review of the 2016 NSX.
Jeff Zwart is one of those guys you kind of want to be. As co-founder of Radical Media, he’s shot commercials for just about every car company there is. Remember that epic Porsche commercial from a few years ago that showed seemingly every important Porsche ever built charging through the desert? That was his. He’s also a massive Porsche geek, collector and racer.
A regular at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Zwart drove his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Turbo to a Time Attack 1 class victory with a time of 9:46.243 at the 2015 event, and it’s all been captured in high-definition 4k in this stunning video, shot by his colleague, Will Roegge.
The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that Porsche doesn’t sell a GT3 Cup with a turbo. Zwart’s 997 Cup car is powered by a twin-turbo flat six from a 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 997, that produces around 600 horsepower. He drove a bone-stock 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS from his home in California to the top of Pikes Peak for the 2011 event, and then decided to drop a turbocharged engine in a Cup chassis after the route was fully paved ahead of the 2012 event.
In addition to the Cup Turbo, Zwart also owns one of only a handful of early Porsche 356s built in Gmünd, Austria — a rally-prepped 914-6, a 906 Carrera 6 hill-climb car and a 911 that competed in the 1971 East African Safari Rally, among others. These aren’t garage queens either. He drives them all regularly. I told you Jeff Zwart is someone you want to be.
We recently witnessed the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), and when the final checkered had flown, the all-electric vehicle you see before you made history. With drifter/rally racer/stunt driver Rhys Millen at the wheel, this car managed to reach the windswept Colorado peak in 9:07.222, becoming not just the fastest car in the Electric Modified Class and the new EV record-holder, but the fastest car in any class, making for the first EV to win the race outright in its nearly century-old history.
Here’s the really wild part – it could have gone a lot faster.
According to Millen, the car lost 50 percent of its power about halfway through the run, and if everything was working properly, he thinks a time in the mid-8-minute range would be not just possible, but more than likely.
An 8:30 up Pikes Peak is fast. Really fast – in fact, it’s approaching the all-time standing record set in 2013 when Sebastien Loeb took an ICE-powered 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 to the top in 8:13.878. To get anywhere near that magic run is huge, but to do it in a car powered by batteries is, well, insane.
The EV in question is called the Drive eO PP03, and it was designed by a Latvian-based engineering company to be a technological powerhouse that pushes the envelope of what electric race cars are capable of.
Continue reading to see what makes this thing tick.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like driving a gigantic cordless power tool on four wheels to over 14,000 feet above sea level, then this video should give you a pretty good idea. Here we ride along with Rhys Millen on board his one-megawatt Drive eO PP03, which he drove to a new electric vehicle record of 9:07.222 and an overall win at this past weekend’s 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Perhaps due to unusual circumstance that saw the finish line move 3,000 feet down the mountain due to bad weather for the fastest classes, it also marked the first time an EV took overall victory at Pikes Peak. Despite losing power to the rear wheels before halfway, Millen’s time was good enough to beat hill-climb legend Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima in his Tajima Rimac E-Runner. However it was still far adrift of the overall record of 8:13.878 set by Sebastian Loeb in 750-horsepower 2013 Peugeot 208 T16.
While Millen was happy to snag the Pikes Peak electric vehicle record, he says he could have gone as much as 30 seconds faster if he had full power for the full distance. But, half a megawatt is still a decent amount of power and more than enough to scare the bejesus out of you, even if you’re watching on a computer. If you have a big screen, take some dramamine.
Check out our recap for a full report on the 2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
This year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb may have been devoid of eight-minute runs, which left Peugeot’s record from 2013 untouched, but that’s not to say it went into the history books without new benchmarks. Not only did Rhys Millen set a new EV record and become the first driver to win the race in a battery-powered car, but there’s also a new record for diesels to talk about. This one was established by Mercedes-Benz, which brought a diesel-powered C-Class to race up the mountain.
Specifically, the Germans prepared "a near-production" C 250 d 4MATIC for the Exhibition class and completed the "Race to the Clouds" in 11 minutes and 22 seconds. While that may be more than two minutes off the 9:07-minute run of this year’s winner, it’s quite an achievement for a vehicle using a standard production engine, and a record for a diesel-powered car.
"Shoving a series-production diesel sedan with an automatic transmission up Pikes Peak sounds like a crazy idea, but it was a lot of fun," said Uwe Nittel, Mercedes’ driver for the race. "It shows that the preconceived notions about diesel engines are no longer relevant."
According to the company, the C 250 d 4MATIC used its stock 201-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. The only modifications included a stripped out interior and the addition of the obligatory safety features such as a roll cage, racing fuel tank, fire extinguishing system, updated brakes and high-performance tires.
Continue reading for the full story.
Some of the fastest speed machines in the world took up residency in Colorado over the weekend for the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The annual “Race to the Clouds” saw an enormous amount of action this year, with unpredictable weather challenging competitors, organizers and spectators alike, going from ideal blue skies to epic storms in just a matter of hours.
On hand was a motley assortment of vehicles, including custom one-off racers, open-wheel formula cars, extensively modified street cars, old-school muscle cars, a Freightliner racing semi, quads, and motorcycles.
Before race day, tragedy struck when a motorcyclist was killed in a crash during a practice session, underlining the ever-present danger of the treacherous climb to the Peak. The event was momentarily halted, but resumed operation on Friday.
By the end of Sunday, records were smashed and history was made. Traditionally a backdrop for showcasing the latest in performance vehicle technology, the 2015 PPIHC saw outright victory awarded to an electric vehicle for the first time in its history.
Updated 7/03/2015: The official PPIHC results have been released, so we’ve updated each respective division, including times recorded where the checkered flag was presented at the timing loop below Glen Cove.
Continue reading for the complete story behind the 2015 PPIHC.
It’s been two years since Sebastien Loeb smashed the Pikes Peak record with an amazing run of 8:13.878 minutes, and it seems no other manufacturer/driver is able to get close to that time, let alone beat it. However, this year’s "Race to the Clouds" had plenty of drama, mostly in the electric car department. Specifically, veteran Rhys Millen set a new record time for battery-powered vehicles, taking his Latvian-built Drive eO PP03 up the mountain in 9:07.222 minutes. What’s more, Millen became the first to win the race with an electric racer.
The New Zealander beat last year’s 9:08-minute record for EVs, which was set by Grec Tracy in the 2014 Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III. Although Mitsu didn’t return for this year’s event, Millen had some competition in "Monster" Tajima’s Rimac e-Runner Concept_One prototype. Nobuhiro finished the race in second, but no fewer than 25 seconds behind the winner.
The podium was completed by a gasoline-powered car, Paul Dallenbach’s PVA, which won the Open Wheel category with a 9:36.496-minute run. Jeff Zwart’s Porsche 911 came in in fourth (9:46.243), while Clint Vahsholtz’s Ford finished fifth (9:55.479).
Keep it locked here for a detailed race recap of the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Continue reading for the full story.
The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was suspended Thursday after a motorcyclist crashed during a practice run before Sunday’s main race. The motorcyclist is reported as Carlton Sorensen, from Centennial, Colorado, a veteran rider in the Middleweight division.
The Gazette is reporting Sorensen died from injures sustained after losing control of his motorcycle and plummeting over a cliff between Devil’s Playground and the summit, sometime before 9:00 a.m. local time. Fellow motorcycle competitors told The Gazette that Sorensen started out behind their pack yet did not reach the finish line.
The crash prompted race officials to suspend qualifying and practice for the remainder of Thursday as emergency crews worked to retrieve Sorensen’s body and his 2008 Ducati 848 Superbike. There is currently no official word on when the pre-race events will resume, though qualifying is likely to resume by Friday afternoon.
Sorensen ran the Pikes Peak Hill climb in 2012 and again in 2014, placing 39th in 2014 with a time of 11:04.905, just two minutes behind the leader. Sorensen is now the sixth person to die while attempting to complete the hill climb, following the death of 54-year-old Bobby Goodin last year when he lost control of his motorcycle in loose gravel after crossing the finish line.
We will bring you more on this story as it develops.
Continue reading for the full story.
For a car which only just began production, we sure have seen an awful lot of the new 2016 Acura NSX. But we don’t hear anybody complaining, and soon we’ll get another good look, as the NSX will be the official pace car of the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This is not the full-on racing version of the car which Honda has also shown off recently, again ahead of the car hitting showrooms, and as a pace car it won’t really get to open up the throttle. But since seeing the car at all is pretty special at this stage, it’s fine if it’s not hitting its top speed.
The car will be driven by Sage Marie of American Honda Public Relations, who also has some racing experience, including two runs at Pikes Peak. The car will be prominently displayed when not actually being driven, for those in attendance to look at. Also, Honda is setting up cameras all along the course in order to post shots of the car in motion all over social media. The car’s livery is new, but the heritage black, white and red color scheme is always used for the new NSX.
Continue reading to learn more about the new Acura NSX pace car.
This weekend, an array of the world’s motoring elite will once again collect at the base of Colorado’s most famous mountain road to participate in the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It’s an annual test that pits a variety of vehicles against the clock in a bid to be the quickest to the summit of “America’s Mountain,” with race cars, modified street cars, electric vehicles, motorcycles, quads, trucks, and many more on hand to take the challenge.
The self-sanctioned event is nearly a century old, and incorporates a relatively lenient rulebook, which traditionally brings in vehicles prepped for a diversity of different international homologations. It also leads to the creation of some truly outrageous performers specifically created to crack the mountain.
This year is no different, with 2015 looking to showcase a Le Mans prototype, time attack coupes, experimental drivetrains, and a hyper-powered EV racer that could potentially win the whole thing outright, a first in the event’s history.
No matter what your favorite motoring flavor happens to be, the PPIHC has something for you, and it’s all set in the dramatic and demanding conditions of high-altitude, two-lane switchbacks.
Continue reading for an in-depth look at this major motoring event.
The 2015 Lexus RC F is a gorgeous and menacing looking coupe. The only way Lexus could improve its appearance would be by giving it a a proper racing body kit. Fortunately, the Japanese already did that by creating GT3 and GT500 versions of the high-performance coupe. Now, Lexus has unveiled yet another motorsport version of the coupe, this time around specifically built for the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
Granted, it might not be as aerodynamic as the 2015 Lexus RC F GT3 and it doesn’t have the massive wing of the 2014 Lexus RC F GT500, but the GT Concept shown here is one hot RC F.
Lexus says the new race car builds upon the legacy of the 2012 Lexus IS F CCS-R that competed at Pikes Peak in 2012 and 2013. Hopefully, the RF C GT Concept will manage a better performance than the sedan did in 2013, when it climbed the hill in a disappointing 12-minute run. The same car ran a 10:30.850 time the previous year.
To be driven up the mountain by Justin Bell, son of racing legend Derek Bell and GT2 class Le Mans winner in 1998, the RC F GT Concept will allow Lexus engineers to experiment with "different tuning ideas, settings and software" for future production use.
"Competition efforts like Pikes Peak help nurture a performance engineering culture and ideology that will have the greatest influence of future F brand products," said Jeff Bracken, Vice President and General Manager of Lexus.
Continue reading for the full story.