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Pikes Peak: An Uphill Battle

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Pikes Peak is one of the first mountain races in America. With countless years of setting an example for summit challenges, what is next for the century-old race?

1916 The First Winner: Rea Lentz

Lentz was the first winner of the Pikes Peak Internation Hill Climb. He accomplished this feat while driving a Roman Demon Special. His time of completion was 20:55. The Demon special had an aircraft engine and was the smallest car to race. The car provided a whopping 125 horsepower.

Mid Century Racing

The race had undergone a massive series of changes to the track in the post WW2 era. With cars now pushing out more horsepower and torque, this meant handling was relatively easier than the previous iterations of the race. In this period the course record was broken every year from 1953 until 1962, this is the largest string of record-breaking runs in the event’s history.

1980’s Pikes Peak and European Involvement

During this time, many racers from across the pond started to take interest in the race. Each one providing their own vehicle to push up the hill. Also at this time, the environmental implications became a focus of many. Due to the road not being paved, Years of erosion started to affect the surrounding ecosystems. Thus, the plan to pave the road was established. Each year preceding the initial rule allowed 10% of the road to be paved. By the end of the ’80s, the entire road had been paved.

Pikes Peak 2000’s – Now

Like all international races, Japan had to come in and consecutively win 6 of them. This was from 2006-2011. Each time, the record was set by Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima racing a Suzuki SX4. After 7 wins, he called it quits.

The Emergence of Electric Cars

During the ’80s talks were made about utilizing electric cars. Seeing as the world had yet to see the emergence of an electric car market (or one that was suitable enough for racing) the prospects were low. Still, that didn’t stop those who had an electric car from tackling the track. Joe Ball took a Sears Electric Car to the top in 32:07.410, in 1994 Katy Endicott brought her Honda to the top in 15:44.710 and in 2013 Nobuhiro Tajima broke the 10-minute barrier with a time of 9:46.530 in his E-RUNNER Pikes Peak Special. In the following years, electric entries would become more common, steadily breaking their powertrain records and eventually the overall record in 2018.

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