By on July 3, 2013

63 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince I became a Coloradan a few years back, I’ve joined all the other car freaks in the Mountain Time Zone for the annual pilgrimage to the 30th-tallest mountain in the state for the big race. I shared my photos from the year Monster Tajima broke the 10-minute barrier, and from from the year the course became all-asphalt, and now I’ve got some shots from last weekend’s event.
67 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinImagine tens of thousands of rowdy race fans, mostly with better access to beer than to oxygen, scattered along the 12-mile course at elevations ranging from 9,390 feet to 14,110 feet. Most of them will bring the coolest vehicle they can lay hands on, which means you’ll see a lot of ancient German sports car, zero-ground-clearance JDM-ified street racers, camper vans outgassing That Junkyard Car Smell, and classic Italian scooters. These guys, who race a Suzuki Swift GT in the 24 Hours of LeMons, rode their scooters 100 miles from Denver and then up to 12,000 feet on the mountain.
22 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe bikes ran first, which turned out to be a good idea— thunderstorms rolled in later in the day.
66 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven with a dry racing surface, bad things can happen. Right off the bat, a couple of bike racers crashed and had to be airlifted out. The increased speeds resulting from the all-asphalt course meant that crashes may be even hairier than before.


Motorcyclists weren’t the only racers to wreck; the electric car of Latvian Janis Horeliks spun out at the end of the long straight at Halfway Picnic Ground, slid into the mountain, and sent up choking clouds of electrical-fire smoke for quite a while.
40 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEveryone knew that Sebastien Loeb had the best shot at blowing away the record time, so the spectators were quite worked up by the time Loeb’s Peugeot screamed by. So worked up, in fact, that this one leaped right in front of my camera at the crucial moment.
37 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s going to take a few more years before the electric cars beat the gasoline ones to the top— it’s coming, though; EVs don’t need oxygen, and battery capacity isn’t a big deal when the course is only 12 miles long— but the electric motorcycles are already there. The Lightning electron-fueled bike (not the bike in this photo) beat all the fossil-fueled two-wheelers with its just-a-hair-over-10-minutes run.
64 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHonda brought a mean-sounding Odyssey minivan.
49 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis Pontiac Solstice clattered by, trailing a cloud of unhappy-engine smoke.
42 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot many vintage cars entered this race (the organizers have decreed that only race cars that have competed in a previous PPIHC race may enter the Vintage class), but at least we had a couple of yowling Minis as sort of a consolation prize.
62 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Banks Power Freightliner was apocolyptic.
68 - 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen it was all over, the racers rolled back down the mountain for 12 miles of high-fives from the spectators.

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12 Comments on “Down From the Mountain: 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb...”


  • avatar
    bachewy

    Awesome photos. I keep telling myself I’m gonna go up and watch that. Next year for sure!

  • avatar
    Syke

    Made my day to see a Meriden Triumph running (3rd pictures, it’s late 60’s).

  • avatar

    Those times make mine seem slow… but then again a 160hp Explorer at sea-level makes all of about 80hp at 14,110 feet and struggles to get over 40 going up the mountain. my personal best record for the trip up the peak is about 30 minutes.

    Watching the racers going up it, makes me just cringe knowing how narrow that road feels at 20mph, but it still is an event I’d love to see in person.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The first thumbnail to catch my eye was the blue tadpole; from the photograph it appears to not be suffering any drama, which belies claims 3 wheeled layouts are inherently unstable.

  • avatar
    TheSeaward

    I’m right on the other side of that helicopter, Murilee. I would have waved at you from across the street if I’d known you were there. This was my first year and I’m already making plans to return, though I plan on bringing ear plugs next year to block out the drunken lullabies at 2am.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m going to camp next year— all the camping permits were gone by the time I thought to get one. Leaving Denver at 4:00 AM is no fun.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Next year is SUNI VI,Sunbeam United National, at the Colorado Springs Marriott, starting June 30 – July 4, a once-every-five-years national event, in 2014 celebrating 50 years of the Sunbeam Tiger, and a few of us are arriving early to catch Pikes Peak next year. Where’s the best place to watch, and how long is the road closed to traffic while the event is going on?

  • avatar
    Mike

    Holy cow, we passed by the scooter guys after the race in their well-orchestrated formation on US24 near I-25. And I thought I was dedicated by waking up at 3 AM. Those guys either camped over night with little to no gear, or drove damn near all night on the slower back roads down from Denver. And they made it farther up the mountain before the road closed. Amazing.

    FYI, the Solstice didn’t make it to the Ski Area.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      When I don’t want to deal with traffic on I-25, be it slow or fast, I’ll hit the highway 85 route from Santa Fe Blvd until I reach Sedalia, then cross the tracks and meander south along 105 for a more pleasant scenic trip which adds an additional 20-35 minutes depending on pace. I can imagine that being the most direct route for the smaller engine scooters along with a quick crossover at Monument before reaching COS city limits.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    Obligatory YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziYJVoaOeiI (unless you’re a big Cream fan, skip ahead to 5:00)


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