Silent but Violent: Watch Rhys Millen's All-Electric Run Up Pikes Peak

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

All-around fast driver and New Zealander Rhys Millen had roughly 20 miles of experience behind the wheel of his Latvian-made eO electric race car before Sunday’s race.

That apparently didn’t matter as he piloted the first electric car to an overall win at the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday.

Millen’s 9:07.222 final mark was a long ways from Sebastian Loeb’s incredible, insane and probably-never-coming-down 8:13.878, but it’s interesting to note that Millen’s qualifying time was some 30 seconds off of Loeb’s pace, and his electron-powered 1,368 horsepower car should only get faster toward the top.

Millen said during qualifying that there was “20 percent” in the car that he wasn’t using, and adjusting to the car’s pace would ultimately be the deciding factor on how quickly he could run up to the finish line at more than 14,000 feet.

Awful conditions at the top hampered this year’s race and underscored that the road to the top, which covers nearly 13 miles and more than 4,000 feet of elevation change, is a constantly changing racetrack.

It can’t be missed that this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was tragically marked by the death of 39-year-old motorcyclist Carl Sorensen during Thursday’s practice session.

Japanese veteran racer Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima — who is 64 years old and infinitely cooler than most people his age — finished second in his Rimac E-Runner.

Electric cars taking the top two positions is significant for motorsports, better for the automotive industry and could signal an era that the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the new ‘Ring.

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5 of 6 comments
  • 01 Deville 01 Deville on Jul 01, 2015

    A bit faster than my 35 MPH slog up the mountain in rental Sienna last month...

  • 7402 7402 on Jul 01, 2015

    I'm glad to see this as I'm a fan of electric cars. Acceleration and torque are strong points in an electric drive train, and hill-climbing requires lots of both. It won't become the new 'ring time that manufacturers may be looking for; they can rent the 'ring for a day and I don't think Pike's Peak offers such an arrangement. I'd like to see the numbers game reflect the following: 0-100-1 time x+25mph times for x=25, 40, 55, 65, and 75mph slalom time over a simple, defined course easily replicated anywhere I may drive up Pike's Peak one day for the view; I will never drive the 'ring because I simply don't care that much and don't envision myself as a race driver. The metrics above can give me an idea of how a car will serve in the urban and interstate driving that I do in day-to-day life.

    • Redav Redav on Jul 02, 2015

      EV times on a race like PP will dramatically improve if batteries' power/weight ratio improves. Lugging less weight up that climb means less total energy needed, & a recursive smaller battery size. For day-to-day driving, I think most important metrics are already captured. One that I do wish to see is a plot of steady-state mpg v. speed instead of the hwy rating.

  • RS RS on Jul 01, 2015

    Lost half the drive train when a motor pack quit halfway up and still got a record. That's extremely impressive.

  • Olddavid Olddavid on Jul 02, 2015

    This result is too cool. If I hadn't been pre-conditioned to the aural onslaught of racing, I'd probably be with my young Son, enjoying the Electric Formula races. Hard to teach an old dog, but Monster puts the boots to that old adage.