2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Hey all! I realize I haven’t been active lately, but what’s a better way to come back than with a photo-dump from Pikes Peak this year? Some of the pictures and videos are blurry because they were taken with my phone and its camera has been acting weird the past few weeks. I watched from Cove Creek for those wondering. Please enjoy!

We arrived at 8 pm and waited in line at a parking lot until the gates opened at 3 am. Driving up two-thirds of Pikes Peak in complete darkness is a fantastic experience!

Worst picture of a Porsche 918 ever (second pair of taillights).

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Driving through the paddock. Beginning of Honda’s area.

Bad picture of Tajima’s car.

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Better pictures of the Porsche 918!

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Driven and owned by a Qatari prince. Rumor has it he paid *lots* of money for the organizers to let him “race” up the mountain. He drove flat out. It was probably a once in a lifetime sight seeing a 918 driven flat out on a “racetrack”.

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Start line.

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Amazing sunrise.

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What do we have here? Six Mercedes GLCs. Four with camo, two without. They look very good!

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What a view.

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Bonus helicopter.

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The new NSX! Absolutely gorgeous car. It was running slowly, probably because they didn’t want to lose it in a crash.

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And the 918 followed driving flat out. Best sounding car I’ve ever heard, much better than the current F1 cars.

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Mirai Racing electric motorcycle. They have ties with my favorite Super GT team, Goodsmile Racing, and a similar livery. Fastest electric motorcycle and 29th overall. Not bad.

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You can’t get this view at any other race.

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Crazy motorcycle. Did a wheelie coming out of the corner and held it for a good 100 m. 18th overall.

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Lexus RC-F running before the cars.

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I didn’t realize my camera recorded sound as well. Here is Rhys Millen. This was after his rear motors broke, so he was running about 650 hp through the front wheels. It looked slow, and it turns out it was slow. Even so, he won overall and broke the electric record, but it was the year of what could have been.

Jeff Zwart’s turbo 911 GT3 racecar. He unfortunately had another problem this year with the engine. When it’s running well, it’s insanely quick.

Paul Dallenbach. This car makes me love V8s again.

And Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima.

Mitsubishi EVO 9 brought over from the UK.

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Palatov D2RS. Cool car as well.

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Clint Vahsholtz

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Porsche 911 Turbo S from Porsche of Colorado Springs. Almost entirely stock except for a half stripped interior, roll cage, and minor ECU adjustment. 16th overall.....in a road car. That shows how fast Porsche’s road cars are.

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NASCAR + Wings = Awkward car for a hill climb. Engine died near the top.

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Radical SR8!

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Porsche 914-8. V8 swap, hence the 8 in the name.

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Beautiful F-Type from the UK. The want is strong.

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Crazy livery on this STi.

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Bad pictures of a GT-R

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Storms rolling in. Is that a funnel cloud?

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Lexus RC-F CCS-R driven by Justin Bell.

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It was at this point the storm did indeed roll in. Spectators were told to take cover in our cars. The race was stopped for at least 1.5 hours. Lots of lightning everywhere and there was fairly heavy hail sustained for 30 minutes. After the storm passed, we saw that the rain/hail had washed lots of the dirt lining the road onto the surface. The summit fared far worse. The ground and road were covered with two inches of a mixture of hail and snow. Snowplows and trucks would be needed to clear the road.

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The race organizers decided that the road was not in condition to continue the race up to the summit. Instead, they decided to lower the finishing line to before Glen Cove, about halfway. Luckily, Glen Cove was only a mile and a half down the road from where we were. Only about 50 of us moved down to the new finish line, but it was worth it. We were able to sit right next to the road, completely different from earlier in the race. Not to mention to drivers were just on the other side of the road and enjoyed talking with us spectators. Potato pictures incoming.

Cars lined up along the road after finishing.

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What storm? #justcoloradothings

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The more attentive of you would notice that the blue Porsche 914-8 in the background has HUGE rear wheels. The story is that the first cars running after the storm were required to use tires with grooves in them in case of standing water on the road. This 914 had already used all of its rear grooved tires earlier in the week during practice. Another team running a Camaro jumped in and gave them two rear wheels that barely fit. The guy with his suit down on the right is the driver of that Camaro and was asking how the wheels worked. Quite well it turns out.

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Engine cover of a 914-8. Best seat on the mountain.

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After this driver finished his run, he came over and sat with the fans and took pictures of the cars finishing as well.

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You can hear the V8s for miles!

This car proceeded to do donuts for over a minute farther up the mountain. I didn’t get to see it, but I heard it. :P

Aaand the semi truck! It did a huge burnout at the end of the video, but I couldn’t catch it.

After they finished, the drivers walked around talking with each other about their cars and taking pictures of them with their cell phones.

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I thought I’d video all of the cars that didn’t run the full course.

Here are the remnants of those donuts.

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At this point I walked back to Cove Creek where we were parked and WOW THE ENTIRE GRID WAS WAITING IN FRONT OF THE PARKING LOT. This is when things got amazing.

The NSX and 918 led the field. I had a feeling this was the first time these cars have been in the same place at the same time.

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The back looks pretty boring, but the front just makes up for it.

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The first of the hypercars I’ve seen. It’s still my favorite of the three.

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That exhaust.

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Lovely Weissach package details.

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And the star of the race, Rhys Millen’s car.

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The car was designed and built in Latvia, hence the flag.

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Rhys Millen (middle) taking a picture with Jeff Zwart. Right after I took this picture, Rhys Millen walked right up to me and started talking with me. According to Rhys, we have the same Solomon running shoes! That’s what I love about this race. No where else can you walk straight through the grid and talk with the drivers, even the winner!

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That Radical though. It looks really aerodynamically refined.

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Hhhnngggggggggggg this F-Type! I’m not completely blown away by the looks of the road car, but in race trim it’s bliss. I’ll have one please.

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The grid was getting ready to go back down the mountain, but first the Mirai motorcycle! The rider was nearby and I was going to congratulate him, but he looked too busy getting ready. I think this livery would good on a FR-S, I might have to do that in a couple of years. :P

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I started filming everyone going down, but my phone’s battery died partway through and corrupted the video.

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After the grid drove back down, we sat in traffic for over an hour trying to get down. Partway down however, I saw Randy Pobst on the side of the road near where he flew off. I didn’t know that at the time, but I figured he crashed because he I never saw him drive up. We started to wave at him, but just then he sees us and waves at us! I realized that he used to drive with K-Pax Racing in a Volvo in the Pirelli World Challenge and he was waving at our Volvo C30 Polestar! This was by far the most rewarding moment of having this car in our fleet.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb sits in an awkward position in the motorsports world. It is somehow unknown compared to the other prestigious races in the world. The low spectator turnout was surprising and the lack of coverage by automotive websites, such as Jalopnik, was disappointing (Autoblog was the only site I found that followed the event closely all throughout race week). Most of this is due to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen occurring on the same weekend.

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While I can’t say you should definitely go to Pikes Peak instead of those events, I do hope that more motorsports enthusiasts give Pikes Peak a chance. It’s kind of ironic that there was a huge turnout of people watching former Pikes Peak cars at Goodwood, but there was a much smaller crowd watching the current Pikes Peak cars racing at the actual event, many of which will end up at Goodwood in a several years.

There is nothing like the PPIHC. You can go to a Formula 1 race and watch highly advanced and not very accessible racecars drive around a completely modern facility. At Pikes Peak, there are a few advanced cars running, but the majority are extremely modified production cars made in someone’s garage. With the proper equipment and knowledge, most of these cars can be recreated by any of us. Regarding the track, it’s anything but modern. During the race, a pack of deer walked through the forest a couple hundred of feet from the road near us, and police officers nearby spotted bighorn sheep on the side of the mountain above us. While Formula 1 may have groundhogs, nothing of this sort would ever happen at a traditional circuit. Not to mention the amazing views!

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There are cries in Formula 1 to make the sport more exciting, punishing, and dangerous. While this is definitely not their intent, the lack of danger may be due to the safety of Formula 1. The reality is that Pikes Peak is extremely dangerous and people do die at this event. People complain of too much paved run off areas in F1. At Pikes Peak, there is no run off and minimal guardrails, even on the upper sections where the competitors run flat out inches from hundred, maybe even thousand foot cliffs. Those wanting Formula 1 to return to the raw racing from before 1990 should check out Pikes Peak. It may have what they are looking for.

Thank you all who have read through this! I realize now that it’s really long, but I hoped you all enjoyed it!

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