This Sunday (June 30), the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb runs again, with cars and motorcycles both taking place in the Race to the Clouds.
The PPIHC is one of the world’s oldest motor races, a 20-km race up 1,440 metres of elevation, with 156 turns. Although it was partly paved, partly gravel for many years, the course is entirely paved now.
Along with the usual challenges of roadracing, there are several extra difficulties for Pikes Peak racers. First, the course runs up the side of a mountain, and if you screw up, you can fly off into space and then fall a long, long way before coming to a stop. Second, the race has only one way in, one way out, so if someone red-flags in front of you, you’ve got to descend all the way to the bottom and wait for the mess to be cleaned up. Third, most PPIHC practice takes place in early mornings, when the course’s traction is much different from race time, when the pavement heats up. And fourth, because of the dramatic elevation changes, motorcycles with internal combustion engines tend to run like crap as the air’s oxygen content decreases.
That’s a lot of stuff to figure out, but still, the Hillclimb is North America’s most prestigious motorcycle street circuit race.
Sadly, there are no Canadian motorcyclists entered in this year’s event (one Canuck, William Au-Yeung, is entered in the car division). Several serious competitors have re-entered this year, though; Carlin Dunne is back aboard Ducati’s new Streetfighter V4, and Chris Fillmore will ride a KTM 450 SX-F. But maybe the biggest name is Michael Dunlop, who’s taking his BMW S1000RR up the hill this year.