What You Need To Know About The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
It’s affectionally called the “Race to the Clouds,” a nickname it earned for its unconventional race course, at least relative to traditional race courses. It’s also been referred to as one of the toughest races in the world and the world’s most famous hill climbing competition - no small feats for an event that it’s been around for 101 years. Whatever name or whatever description it goes by, this race will forever be referred to as the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and it’s taking place for the 96th time this weekend on June 24.
Like most years, a huge throng of people will be making the pilgrimage to Colorado Springs this weekend in what has become one of the most eagerly anticipated racing spectacles in the U.S. Pikes Peak is non-traditional in a sense that it’s not part of a racing series, nor is it an actual race track or oval circuit. Instead, competitors literally have to go up a mountain to get to the finish line. If it sounds easy in that description, it’s actually not. Far from it, to be honest. Competing in Pikes Peak takes a toll on the driver and the car in ways that no other kind of motorsport race can do. That’s a big reason why finishing it as much of a big deal as actually winning it, let alone setting an actual record. So ahead of this weekend’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, we’ve prepared a little primer to get people up-to-speed on the history of the race, the spectacle that comes with it, and the expectations that will go in being invested in the outcome of this year’s race.
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The Volkswagen I. D. R Pikes Peak Qualifies First, Setting Expectations for Winning and Record Breaking
Volkswagen Tunes Aero Package for Run at Pikes Peak
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is an absolute monster of a challenge. Composed of 156 turns laid across 12.4 miles of narrow two-lane switchbacks, The Race to the Clouds lives up to its name by climbing some 4,720 feet, with the peak touching the sky at over 14,000 feet above sea level. As such, aero set-up is particularly tricky to work out, as the extreme high altitude conditions make wings and cooling substantially less effective, even when compared between the start and finish lines. Volkswagen is tackling the problem by testing and tuning in the wind tunnel is it preps for a run at America’s Mountain with the new I.D. R all-electric racer.
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Volkswagen’s I.D. R Pikes Peak Racer is Not For the Weak of Heart
The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak racer is no joke. The German automaker finally unveiled its all-electric time attack racer and, judging by the technical specifications; it looks like it’s ready to conquer the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The I.D. R Pikes Peak has a serious amount of power at its disposal. More importantly, all that power translates to performance abilities that make it quicker than a Formula E race car and a Formula One racer.
Volkswagen Teases Electric Race Car For 2018 Pikes Peak
A few years ago Volkswagen revealed that it wants to transform itself into one of the leading producers of electric vehicles. This statement was further emphasized after the "Dieselgate" emissions scandal. Now, the German firm is making another big step toward electrification by including its racing division into these plans. Specifically, Volkswagen Motorsport is working with the company’s Technical Development center in Wolfsburg on an all-electric prototype car for next year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race.
An event that has become a popular venue for carmakers and privateers experimenting with electric drivetrains, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb will see Volkswagen debut it’s most daring race car yet. And the German firm doesn’t want to join the event just for kicks; it’s also planning to set a new record for electric cars on the 12.4-mile-long course. "The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies," explained Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development. Although data is still under wraps, Volkswagen released a teaser photo of the car. But more on that below.
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2017 Norma MXX RD Limited
The Norma M20 was first introduced in 2003 as a Group CN prototype for the Prototype Endurance Challenge, the Speed EuroSeries, and the European Le Mans series. The car was also used in the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, and in 2014 in was raced at Pikes Peak for the very first time. The M20 won its maiden race with Romain Dumas behind the wheel and scored its second win two years later, in 2016, when it also ran the second-best lap. In 2017, Norma and Dumas returned at Pikes Peak with the MXX RD Limited update, scoring their third overall win in the Unlimited class.
Although it didn’t manage to best his record from 2016, Romain Dumas was a tenth-second faster than in 2014, thus posting the third-best overall time in the "Race to the Clouds." While still more than 30 seconds off Sebastien Loeb’s incredible record from 2013, Dumas’ effort is truly impressive given that Norma is a very small company that doesn’t benefit from the same financial support as the Peugeot 208 T16. It remains to be seen whether a new update will make the Norma faster in 2018, but until then, let’s have a closer look at one of the most extreme race cars ever built.
Continue reading to learn more about the Norma MXX RD Limited.
Ride Along With Rhys Millen As He Tackles The 2017 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Video
This year’s Race to the Clouds saw the usual lineup of insane rides challenging for the win. Per usual, the competitor list was quite diverse, with everything from factory-supported hybrid sports cars like the Acura NSX, to single-seater, open-top, hyper-winged racers like the Norma MXX RD Limited of Romain Dumas. While Dumas took top honors with a final time of 9 minutes, 5.672 seconds, Rhys Millen managed a fourth-place finish overall in his competition-prepped 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, simultaneously taking a first place-finish in the Time Attack 1 class. Millen is a Pikes Peak veteran, with a resume that includes an overall win in 2015 behind the wheel of the eO PP03, following in the footsteps of father Rod Millen as one of the fastest competitors at the annual event. As if to underline that point, we have footage of Millen’s 2017 run right here for your viewing pleasure.
The perspective is from Millen’s helmet, providing a thrilling view as the New Zealander tackles the Peak’s 156 turns and 12.42 miles. There are definitely a few moments, but Millen handles them all in stride, staying calm and collected on his way to a class victory. We can’t wait to see what he’ll do next year.
Relive Sebastien Loeb’s Record Run Up Pikes Peak: Video
In case you were unaware, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is getting underway right this very second, and that means a whole swath of race-ready rides congregating in Colorado to take a swing at the 156 turns and high-altitude craziness that is America’s Mountain. And while simply getting to the top unscathed is in itself quite the accomplishment, some are vying to etch their names into the history books by beating the current standing record time of 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds, set back in 2013 by legendary rally champion Sebastien Loeb in a Peugeot 206 T16. But, as you might expect, such a feat is easier said than done, as evidenced by the above-featured video documenting every turn of Loeb’s incredible blitz to the clouds.
From the off, it’s clear Loeb is holding nothing back. The same talent that earned him an unprecedented nine World Rally Championship titles is very much on display, as is his incredible bravery as he uses every inch of pavement, even with nothing more than heart-stopping drops in place to greet him should he muck it up. The video combines a multitude of camera angles, including a passenger seat POV, in-car shots, bumper shots, and helicopter shots, providing the viewer with a fantastic overview. Also of note is just how clean the run is, with very little in terms of sliding or corrections. Will 2017 be the year Loeb’s record falls? By the look of it – probably not.
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2017 Pikes Peak - Race Report
The 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb brought together almost 80 competitors for the year’s most exciting hill climb race. Spread over eleven divisions that included both gas and electric drivetrains, some of motorsport’s fastest cars and motorcycles raced up the iconic hill in Colorado in search of new world records. Unfortunately, no record was beaten this year — the fastest car was even slower than last year’s winner — but the 2017 Pikes Peak was spectacular nonetheless.
This year’s event gathered 78 vehicles at the starting line, but only 66 made it to the peak to take the checkered flag. A norm for the winner in recent years, the 10-minute benchmark was broken for the sixth time, but no car managed to get below the nine-minute mark. However, this year’s winner set the third-quickest time on the 12.42-mile lap, an impressive time despite being nearly a minute slower than Sebastien Loeb’s all-time record from 2013. In all, five cars and two motorcycles completed the race in less than 10 minutes.
Continue reading for the full results.
Five Cars To Keep An Eye On At Pikes Peak This Year
With the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb kicking off this weekend, we here at TopSpeed are practically giddy at the thought of watching all those high-powered machines take on one of the most exciting, long-running, and flat-out challenging motorsports events in the U.S. Finding the win at the top of the world in Colorado takes just the right combination of elements, with a wide spread of entries taking up the challenge. This year, more than 50 individual racers will sprint to the peak, with both domestic and international representatives in attendance. But one of the most fascinating things about the PPIHC is the surprisingly diverse mixture of cars, which includes modern hybrid sports cars, all-electric spaceships, purpose-built track cars, and modified street cars. There’s even a freightliner, and believe it or not, it’s quick. As such, we’ve outlined five cars to keep an eye on at Pikes Peak this year.
Some are new, while others are old standbys for the event. Each, however, is very, very fast. But as always, we wanna know – which entry will you be rooting for? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to check out our additional PPIHC pre-event coverage here and here.
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Check Out The Norma That Conquered Pikes Peak This Year
Romain Dumas has had a busy schedule lately. After slicing and dicing his way to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Frenchman flew halfway across the world to take top honors at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). While Dumas’ Superman-like efforts are not to be denied, none of it would’ve been possible without the incredible machines placed under his command. Case in the point – this mountain-munching Norma M20 RD Limited.
Unlike the heavy-hitting technological powerhouses found in the Pikes Peak Electric Division, the open-cockpit Norma prototype is a little more old school – low weight, sequential gearbox, gas-burning engine in the middle. It’s the same car that Dumas wheeled to his first PPIHC win in 2014 – extensively upgraded for 2016, of course.
Updates include refined aerodynamics, a new turbocharger, more power, and a retuned chassis, all of which contribute mightily to the car’s hill climb prowess. But the most significant change is the addition of a new AWD system, a critical component for any competitor looking to post a fast time at America’s Mountain.
So then – what the heck is a Norma, anyway?
Continue reading to learn more about the Norma that conquered Pikes Peak this year.
Tesla Model S Storms Pikes Peak; More EV Racers Expected
This past weekend, a modified Tesla Model S set the new Electric Production class record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, cresting the summit in 11:48.264. The new record is part of a surge in EV competition at the world-famous motor race.
Piloting the record-setting Tesla was Blake Fuller, CEO of Go Puck, a Florida-based producer of mobile device charging solutions with a history in developing race car battery technology. Fuller first raced at Pikes Peak in 1999, earning the title of Rookie of the Year at the age of 18. In 2002, he took a win in the Open class.
This year, the Go Puck Tesla was the only entry in the Electric Production class. Fuller trounced the previous record of 12:55.591, which was set in 2014 by Roy Richards driving a 2012 Honda Fit EV.
Overall, the Go Puck Tesla placed 65th in a field that included some of the most badass speed machines on the planet, including the 2016-spec Norma M20 RD of Romain Dumas, and the 1,600-horsepower Drive eO PP100 of Rhys Millen.
To put it in perspective, Fuller’s time slotted between two entries from the Time Attack 1 class – the Toyota Starlet of Mikko Kataja (11:48.877), and the Subaru WRX STI of Andy Kingsley (11:55.849), which placed 11th and 12th in class, respectively.
Compared to the leaderboards, Fuller’s time might not seem that impressive, but trust me, it is. The Go Puck Model S is breaking new ground for Tesla’s popular four-door, forging a path towards that holy of holies – racing. What’s more, it represents a critical facet of the real EV Revolution currently taking place at America’s Mountain.
Read on for the details, including a profile of the Go Puck Tesla Model S race car.
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Pikes Peak – Birthplace of the REAL EV Revolution
Over the weekend, France’s Romain Dumas secured his second career victory at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, becoming the first driver in history to take wins at Pikes Peak and Le Mans in the same season. After qualifying first in the running order, Dumas posted a time of 8:51.445 in the 2016-spec Norma M20 RD (Unlimited Division), averaging more than 81 mph over the 12.42-mile, 156-turn race course. Dumas’ sub-9-minute time is the second quickest in the event’s 100-year history, bested only by Sebastien Loeb’s otherworldly 8:13.878 from 2013.
Nipping at Dumas’ heels was a pair of entries from the Electric Modified class – Rhys Millen (Drive eO PP100) and Tetsuya Yamano (Acura NSX EV Concept), with a time of 8:57.118 and 9:06.015, respectively. Further back in the field, Layne Schranz (2015 Chevrolet SS) finished first in the Open class (9:53.071), Clint Vahsholtz (2013 Ford Open) finished first in the Open Wheel class (9:54.050), David Donner (2013 Porsche GT3R) finished first in the TA1 class (10.00.813), and Nick Robinson (Acura NSX) finished first in the TA2 class (10:28.820).
For the complete race results, click here. You can also find more info on the event in our preview here.
Dumas’ impressive back-to-back wins in Colorado and France shouldn’t be downplayed, but the real story from this year’s PPIHC has to be from the Electric Division. One look at the time sheet reveals just how close Millen and the eO came to defeating Dumas’ internal-combustion-powered Norma (5.673 seconds), which is remarkable when you consider the speed with which EV racers have taken to the Pikes Peak podium.
In just a few short years, all-electric speed machines have settled in as the cars to beat at America’s Mountain, heralding the real EV Revolution. But why Pikes Peak, and more importantly, why now?
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2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – Preview
In 1916, Coloradan businessman Spencer Penrose sponsored a motor race up the newly improved Pikes Peak Highway as a means to promote tourism. Eventually, the invitational grew to become one of the most important races of the year, attracting the world’s top drivers and playing host to a field of cutting-edge go-fast machinery. Now, exactly 100 years after the inaugural “Race to the Clouds,” the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) marches forward as an unparalleled challenge to both man and machine, probing limits by way of unpredictable weather conditions, power-sapping altitude, and potentially lethal danger. This is the race for America’s Mountain.
Held annually during the final Sunday of June, the PPIHC sees its 94th running this year, making it one of the oldest motor races in the world. Sprinting to the peak will be a collection of 100 vehicles, including race cars, streets cars, EVs, quads, trucks, motorcycles, and sidecars, all of which fall into broad classifications meant to accommodate diversity and technological innovation.
Vying for glory alongside the Americans will be an international crowd of drivers, with representatives from Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Japan, Taiwan, and the U.K. Last year, outright victory went to Rhys Millen and the all-electric Drive eO PP03, marking the first time an all-electric vehicle clinched top honors at the event. This year, Millen will look to go back-to-back in the updated eO PP100, while Acura joins the fray with a trio of NSX’s. Challenging the battery-suckers will be a hoard of internal-combustion-only opponents, from open-wheel formula cars, to European track weapons, to Japanese rally specials, to big-displacement American muscle.
From this motley crew, who will rise to the top? Read on for a breakdown of this year’s PPIHC.
Continue reading for more information on the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
2016 Acura EV Concept
Rumored ever since the first-generation model was discontinued in 2005, the new Acura NSX made its official debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show after many delays. But, the wait was definitely worth it. Designed to modern standards with an aggressive exterior and sporty, yet classy interior, the second-gen NSX received a state-of-the-art drivetrain that combines a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine, three electric motors, and a nine-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Built almost entirely from lightweight materials, the NSX is both a high-profile sports car and a full-fledged track toy for speedy weekends at the track.
In production for only a couple of months as of June 2016, the NSX has already spawned a couple of race cars specifically modified for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. With the 2016 "Race to the Clouds" just around the corner, Acura has announced that it has used the NSX as a basis for an all-electric race car as well. Dubbed EV Concept, it will be campaigned in the Electric Modified Class of the 2016 Pikes Peak. Unlike the other NSX-based racers, the EV Concept uses a different drivetrain and a further evolution of the experimental four-motor Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system.
"We’ve been tuning the car for several weeks at Pikes and have advanced its performance significantly," said Tetsuya Yamano, who will be driving the NSX. "We’re honored to be running at Pikes in this historical, anniversary year – an event respected by racing fans all over the world," added the driver who campaigned last year’s CR-Z-based electric prototypes.
Continue reading to learn more about the Acura EV Concept.
During this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Jeff Zwart tried his chances behind the wheel of a Porsche GT3 Cup. While most of us will never have the chance to enter the race, this video, which was filmed by Luminox, will offer you a chance to understand what kind of driving skills are required to climb the Pikes Peak.
For those of you who have been under a rock their whole life, Pikes Peak measures 12.42 miles, has 156 corners and goes way up to an altitude of 14,110 feet where the air contains just 58 percent of the oxygen it does at sea level.
Additionally, the 911 GT3 is a pretty powerful car and the Pikes Peak raises little problem. The 911 GT3 is powered by 3.8-liter boxer engine that delivers a total of 475 horsepower and sprints the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds and up to a top speed of 195 mph.
For all the accolades and accomplishments Sebastien Loeb has garnered in his illustrious career, he just put another impressive notch on his belt at the recent Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Loeb’s scintillating run up Pikes Peak on board the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Racecar only took 8:13.878, a staggering time that crushed the previous Pikes Peak record of 9:46 that was set by Rhys Millen just last year.
Wrap your heads around that and it’s easy to point out that Loeb’s record-breaking run up the mountain beat the existing top lap time by more than 90 seconds!
If there ever was a fitting way to describe "destruction" this would be it.
What makes Loeb’s time even more incredible is that Millen, the incumbent record-holder before Loeb put him in his place, likewise posted a blistering lap time on board his fully modified Hyundai Genesis, clocking in 9:02.192, almost 45 seconds faster than the record time he set last year, yet was still 45 seconds slower than Loeb’s time.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever want to put your stamp on a world record, this is how you do it.
Just complete and total annihilation.
Click past the jump to read about the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Racecar
Though it doesn’t have the same racing history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as other automakers, Scion is bent on making a mark at this year’s race.
For the occasion, the Japanese automaker has introduced the car that will compete against the heavyweights of the Unlimited Class: an Evasive Motorsports-prepared Scion FR-S that, if for nothing else, looks the part of a giant killer.
Prepared and developed to the unique racing specifications needed to compete at Pikes Peak, the FR-S comes with a bevy of aerodynamic components, highlighted by that enormous rear wing that should come in handy when the FR-S is trying to keep its wheels on the ground.
A large front wing was also installed on the car, as well as what looks like an equally large rear diffuser, both serving the same aerodynamic purpose of eliminating aerodynamic lift to allow the FR-S to maintain its speed as it attempts to give all the other competitors of the Unlimited Class a run for their money.
No power details were given but considering the kind of cars that are competing in this class, we wouldn’t be surprised if this high-powered FR-S has over 650 horsepower under its hood. That is quite a healthy increase over the stock 200 horsepower, but still very much attainable.
Click past the jump to read about the Scion FR-S
In 2010, a Yokohama EV Sports Vehicle HER-02 set a record for the fastest electric vehicle to complete the iconic 12.42-mile-long Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The vehicle obtained an impressive time of 13:17.575 with Ikuo Hanawa behind the wheel. That mark shattered the previous Pikes Peak EV record, set by Jeri Unser in 2003, by 65 seconds.
Last year, the same vehicle finished fifth in its class and for this year Yokohama will make another try.
The HER-02 is powered by an electric motor that delivers a total of 255 horsepower and takes its power from a 37 kWh Sanyo battery pack. All of the motor’s 255 ponies are sent to the rear wheels. The electric vehicle weighs only 2,535 pounds and, thanks to its two spoilers, it delivers a surprising amount of downforce to help it stay glued to the road in twists.
Click past the jump to read more about HER-02’s competitors at Pikes Peak.
If at some point you decide to take up the wonderful world of building race cars, you might want to take a look at the how Peugeot was able to build the 208 T16 Pikes Peak race car.
Don’t worry; this build didn’t take up weeks. It didn’t take days; heck, it didn’t even take hours.
It only took them 45 seconds.
Ok, it’s a time-lapse video, which means that the whole thing has been edited. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that what Peugeot did was impressive.
It started from scratch right in front of our eyes and then quickly morphed into a bona fide Pikes Peak-conquering race car, complete with a new body, a suspension unit, and its own powertrain.
That’s the power of modern science and engineering, fellas.
Ok, mixed in with nifty editing but that’s not the point.
Click past the jump to read about the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak race car