The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is as unique as it is beautiful and fortunately its pretty damn easy to go to. I have been twice and can walk you through two very different experiences.
How do I get there:
Fly to Denver if you are far away, otherwise drive. Pikes peak is about a hour south in Colorado springs. If you have any friends in Denver convince them they need to go to this because they do and its awesome. I did and it made my life much easier. The population of Denver has gone up by about 43,000,000 in the past 3 years so you probably know someone. Otherwise you are renting a car to get to the mountain. There is no public transport option to pull this off.
Before the Race:
Colorado is dope. There are alot of fun hiking or outdoors things to do or brewery’s if you just like to get drunk. The day before their is a mile drag race at Colorado springs airport not far away. It is called Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack and there is always crazy shit there. Alot of twin turbo Lamboghini’s, Ford GT’s, ETC. It is the perfect sister event to the hill climb and if at all possible go.
Elevation Sickness & Clothing:
If you are coming from sea level you are not tougher then elevation sickness. Trust me. Plan accordingly and don’t push your luck. Ask me why I know.
I have seen it hail, then snow and be 20 Degrees, then be 70 Degrees within a hour on the mountain. Layering is key
Option #1 - Base of the Mountain
Watching the race in this manner has some real benefits. You do not have to get their very very early or spend more money (More on that later), its beautiful, you can explore the pits, you won’t be stuck on a mountain for hours, there is a food vendor, and racecars. General admission tickets run about $40. The pit is the most open in all of motorsport. It is quite literally a bunch of people on the side of road on a mountain. If you want to talk to Monster Tajima,the Millen family, or the guy racing an carbureted open wheel car he built they are right there. It is amazing and everyone is super friendly. Also the electric cars have sirens because they are silent when they run. It is hilarious until you realize how fast they are.
You get a cooler and some cheap camp out chairs and you watch racecars launch all day. They will sound funny because you are at 9,000 feet and they are going to 14,000 feet and that is alot of fuel adjustment, but its pretty cool. There are no mountains home, so the view even from the base was breathtaking to me. You can also see the the top of the mountain and it helps grasp the insanity these people are undertaking. Their is a vendor but really your aim is to be self sufficient and have a cooler. There are even almost real bathrooms.
There is one way up the mountain so if you are past the start finish line you are stuck there. All the cars do their timed run and then at the end come back down together. However, at the start finish line you can walk down a little bit or take a shuttle to the lower parking lots where you are parked and leave at any time.
The only real downside is you are seeing just the beginning. You do not get to drive up the course and see some of the nitty gritty, and it is hard to get a feel for the bravery of people running here every year. Which brings me to option 2.
It is possible to get up at the butt crack of dawn Sunday and drive up to one of the many spectator areas. However, this is also the one night a year camping on Pikes Peak is permitted. A camping pass runs about $150 per vehicle and each person in the vehicle needs a general admission ticket. You get a tent, a lot of clothes, a cooler of beer/food, and a smoker/grill. You go up the day before at a normal time and you hang out on top of a big ass mountain, and then sleep while everyone is fighting traffic to get up. Camping passes sold out the first year I tried to get them but I couldn’t seem to get rid of mine this year so your mileage may vary. Plan ahead. They are available to buy in decemberish usually.
This was you get to see more of the course and hang out a little bit more. It’s a little scary driving up the mountain at driving pace let alone race pace.
That being said Elevation sickness is real. I came from sea level to Glen cove camping area (11,400 ft.). After a few hours I could not walk to the bathroom, tie my shoes, or do anything without being completely out of breath. We cooked extra ribs and gave them to the fire fighters near us in case I needed oxygen which I thankfully did not (Even if you do not need oxygen you should make delicious ribs for the emergency workers). I would not go higher then this unless you are pretty fit, or give yourself a few days to adjust before hand. If you are coming from Denver or elevation you are probably ok, my friend drank beer and laughed at me the whole time.
If you stay up the mountain they let the racers on top come down first, then the highest spectator area, then the second highest spectator area and so on and so forth. So you are there until the end, which is a positive.
There is alot to see but it is a very different perspective of the same race.
I would recommend both, but probably start at the base for a year. It is a event with no parallel and mountains and racecars and just fucking cool.
I started writing about how to do some races because I am passionate about it and thought all the information in one place may help some people get out and go. I cannot attend this year and had to sell my camping pass, but I plan on returning. More Photos way back on the Instagram