By on June 27, 2011

Yesterday was a long, long day on Pike’s Peak. Above 10,000 feet, the Colorado sun bakes the will to live right out of you, while the lack of oxygen starves lungs and engines alike. Constant wrecks and breakdowns shut down the course for long periods, but all these things were just minor irritants, forgotten as soon as the next racer came fishtailing up the hill. The big news, of course, was the demolition of the 10-minute barrier by Monster Tajima, but every entrant got plenty of cheers from the thousands of dust-huffing hillclimb fans lining the route to the summit. Make the jump for some of my photo highlights from the day.

The Seat León Supercopa I encountered in a Manitou Springs motel parking lot on Friday looked and sounded great on race day.

Speaking of European cars we never see in North America…

I had a couple of friends driving in the race, but both faced setbacks on race weekend. Bill Caswell, LeMons race winner and low-budget rally hero, ended up stacking his E30 during practice and spent race day as a spectator. Meanwhile, LeMons Supreme Court District Judge Texas Dave of Rally Ready Motorsports was making a crazed underdog run at the 10-minute mark in his Evo. He looked extremely fast passing my vantage point near Gayler’s Straits, but engine failure above the tree line ended his run. Next year!

I was very happy to see a Pontiac Sunbird, of all things, roaring by. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well for Bobby Regester further up the hill. The good news: Regester walked away from the wreck.

Many of the vintage climbers were 60s Mustangs, so it was nice to see a Ford racer changing it up with a Falcon Signet.

Plenty of Carrera Panamericana cars roaring up the mountain. One of my favorites is Doug Mockett’s ridiculously fast ’54 Oldsmobile.

Competing in the Time Attack class was this ’80 Corolla.

The bike contingent provided plenty of nail-bitingly squirrelly antics for the crowds.

Monster Tajima’s car doesn’t look much like a Suzuki SX4, but that’s how the Unlimited class works.

All the entrants that make it to the summit stay there until the race is over, then roll back down the hill to the cheers and high-fives of the spectators. Even some of the wreck victims made it back down under their own power, with an assist from gravity.

Now I’m hooked. Pike’s Peak 2012 or bust!

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