It’s known as the Race to the Clouds, but more enthusiasts know it by its given name- the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Held on the slopes of one of Colorado’s many 14’ers, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb celebrated its 92nd running this last weekend as dozens of motorcycle and race car drivers took to the hill to prove that they not only had the vehicle, but also the skill and stamina to reach new heights in their racing careers. Lucky for us we got to join these competitors from all over the world in their ascent to the clouds!
Standing 14,115 feet above sea level, the summit of Colorado Pikes Peak is a destination for avid hikers, exhibitionists and tourists alike. On any given day, hundreds of people can be found on the mountain, whether it’s aboard the Cog Railway, along Pikes Peak Highway, or the most difficult way up or down- among the 12.6 miles of boulder-filled trails. But for one week a year, Pikes Peak is visited by thousands more people than usual, all in preparation for the world-renowned International Hill Climb.
In total, 130 competitors from all over the globe came to participate in the Hill Climb this year, with 63 of those racing motorcycles, UTVs, quads, or motorcycles with sidecars, and 67 racing in various car classes.
Motorcycle riders kicked off the race following the Gas Monkey Garage-built Chevy C10 pace vehicle at 8a.m, with every competitor aiming for their best time up the 12.42-mile course, complete with 156 turns, inclines and declines of over a 10-percent grade, a 61,626-foot incline from the start to the finish. Those competing on bikes raced in various divisions, from Vintage, Open and Pikes Peak 250 classes to Electric, Lightweight and Middleweight classes.
Though many competitors started the race, not all of them crossed the finish line at the top of the mountain for an official lap time.
Fortunately, this was true for only a handful of the motorcycle racers with Jeremy Toye of San Diego, California securing the top position on the motorcycle podium with an amazing 9:58.687 lap time atop his No. 57 2013 Kawasaki.
Spread evenly apart, racers went by a number of spectator areas and danger zones every few minutes, with delays happening only when the competitor’s vehicles broke on track or there was some other sort of incident.
An avid motorcyclist from Flower Mound, Texas, Bobby Goodin will be remembered for his competitive nature and positive outlook on life.
As the motorcycle portion of the event was nearing its end, the biggest and most tragic incident of the day happened on course when 54-year-old Bobby Goodin lost control of his bike going from the paved surface of the race course to the gravel of the parking lot at the summit after crossing the finish line at his second PPIHC race.
Goodin was riding a 2014 Triumph Daytona 675R when he lost control shortly after crossing the finish line, causing the bike to hit a rock and Goodin to be thrown from the bike into one of the surrounding rock fields. Goodin was airlifted off the mountain in every attempt to save his life, but he was tragically pronounced dead a short time later.
Though a tragic loss, Goodin died doing something that he loved to do. We should all be so fortunate when that time comes.
Goodin’s family and the staff of the PPIHC have released a statement regarding the incident, which you can read here, and a Pikes Peak Motorcycle Safety Fund has been established in his name.
After over an hour and a half delay, the Race to the Clouds commenced with the remaining motorcycle racers. Once finished, all the competitors stationed themselves along the last few turns of the race course in anticipation for the car portion of the race.
Kicking off the car portion of the event was Swiss driver Dumas Romain, who piloted a Norma M20 RD Limited race car up to the top of the mountain. He was followed by two incredibly nimble electric race vehicles from Mitsubishi, a Monster Sport electric Pikes Peak Special and then Paul Dallenbach in his 750hp small block Chevy-powered Open Wheel car.
During qualifications, Dallenbach shattered his previous Open Wheel Class record of 4:07.8 on the shortened qualifying course by over five seconds. Unfortunately, Dallenbach’s record-breaking streak fell short on race day as his car experienced mechanical difficulties during the first half of his race to the top.
With drivers competing in a number of divisions, including Unlimited, Electric Modified, Open Wheel, Time Attack 1 and 2, Pikes Peak Open and Vintage classes, the variety of makes, models, modifications and power ratings on the course at any given time was undeniable.
Some favorites in the mix were Clint Vahsholtz’s 2013 Ford Open Wheel car, Steve Goeglein’s 2002 Chevy Camaro competing in the Unlimited Division, Randy Schranz Shelby Cobra competing in the Pikes Peak Open class, Ralf Christensson’s 1967 Mustang GT350 and Magnus Widen’s 1965 Mustang, both racing in the Vintage class, Davey Schmidtt’s 2008 Mustang racing in the Pikes Peak Open class, Jarad Voight’s 2010 Camaro SS competing in the Time Attack 2 class, and Aaron Kaufman’s 1963 Ford Falcon racing as an Exhibition entry.
The Race to the Clouds is a fitting nickname, as a number of places along the course look to extend endlessly into the sky.
Over the course of the day, eleven competitors in the car portion of the event were unable to pilot their cars the full length of the course. Only about half of them only made it through the first section of the race course due to various complications.
When all was said and done, Romain took home the overall win at the Hill Climb and the top position in the Unlimited Division. Clocking a blistering lap time of just 9:05.801 in his No. 30 Norma M20 RD Limited.
He was followed in lap times by the three Electric-Modified competitors and then Vahsholtz’s Ford Open Wheel car. The top competitors, all of which laid down lap times under ten minutes was rounded out by first-time PPIHC competitor Michael Skeen and his 2009 Nissan GT-R. A full list of results can be found here.
For more photos from the 2014 Race to the Clouds, check out the Photo Gallery below. And be sure to stay tuned for in-depth looks at some of the high-performance Chevys and Fords that took to the mountain in the 92nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
One of the coolest cars at the event, Ralf Christensson’s ’67 Mustang took the checkered flag for the Vintage Division with a lap time of 10:46.00.