It’s the race to the clouds and North America’s oldest hill climb race: the International Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Since 1916, the “Race to the Clouds” has been drawing enthusiasts to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The race starts at an elevation of 2,862 meters above sea level near the city of Colorado Springs.
For decades, motorsport fans, racers, and automakers from around the world have been lured to the 4,301-meter-high Pikes Peak. The race is also well-known in Germany, as over 35 years ago, Walter Röhrl and Audi made motorsport history there with the powerful 600 horsepower Sport quattro S1 “Pikes Peak”.
Walter Röhrl was the first driver to conquer the 12.42-mile (19.99-kilometer) long hill climb and its 1,439 meters of elevation difference in under 11 minutes at the time. It wasn’t until 2011 that the Japanese driver Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima broke the 10-minute mark, and even then, 75 percent of the track was already paved. During Walter Röhrl’s time, the route was covered in sand and gravel all the way up to the summit.
Today, the entire track, which serves as a public road outside the race and during the summer, is paved. Since 2018, Romain Dumas has held the record in the 680 horsepower electric Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, with a fabulous time of 7 minutes and 57.148 seconds.
Despite the unbroken record since 2018, the race has not lost its appeal, and 67 participants are listed, including many acquaintances, friends, and customers of the KW automotive group.
Lia Block, the daughter of the late Ken Block, who unfortunately passed away on January 2, 2023, will also be present at the 101st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the Hoonipigasus.
She will drive the 1,400 horsepower Porsche in a “tribute run” for her father at Pikes Peak. In 2022, Ken Block was registered as a participant with the Hoonipigasus, but due to a technical issue, he couldn’t start.
Speaking of Porsche: As of June 16, 2023, nine Porsche teams have been named for the hill climb, competing in different categories such as “Time Attack 1”, “Pikes Peak Open”, and “Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama”.
While the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport will unleash its power in its own competition (“Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama”), David Donohue will challenge the participants in the “Time Attack 1 Class” with the Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport #59.
In the same class the American Porsche legend Jeff Zwart will start with the Porsche 935 #11. We have already introduced his preparations for the hill climb on the blog some time ago.
Fierce Competition and the Pursuit of Victory define the Pikes Open Class, and the excitement for 2023 is off the charts. Dai Yoshihara follow his Pikes Peak appearances in the Tesla Model 3, is now taking on the challenge with a Honda S2000.
The lightweight roadster relies solely on the power of its upgraded combustion engine, now boasting an impressive 650 horsepower. Evasive Motorsports is once again responsible for the entire project, ensuring top performance, and they have opted for a KW Racing suspension setup again.
In the same class, Cam Ingram is eager to make his mark once again, piloting a 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 R TT (991) meticulously crafted by Emotion Engineering.
However, all eyes in 2023 are on Romain Dumas. As the reigning record holder of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, he will once again take on the challenge with an electric beast.
This time it’s the Ford Performance SuperVan4, which gained recognition as Pro Electric SuperVan Concept at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Ford has further enhanced the aerodynamics and made several adjustments to the KW Racing suspension setup specifically for the race to the clouds.
Returning to Colorado in the “Exhibition” class is a familiar face. New Zealander Mad Mike Whiddett aims to conquer the 1,439 meters of elevation between start and finish with his Mazda 3 “Bullet,” featuring an astonishing 1,400 horsepower Wankel turbo engine.
During the initial test drives in Colorado, spectators were captivated by the distinct sound of the Wankel engine.
Photos: Various sources (Ford, Hoonigan Racing Division, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Larry Chen)