Colorado Springs, CO – The 100-day countdown to the 100th Running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo on June 26 has begun.
A look at the past century of motorsports action on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain helps define why this race has not only endured but become one of the premier hill climbing events in the world.
Since 1916 when local businessman, Spencer Penrose, conceived the idea to promote a race to the summit of the famed Colorado peak, only World War I and World War II have interrupted the event.
A mere 10 years later, with the entry of Joe Unser, the family began carving the Unser name in the record books on Pikes Peak and at every major racing venue. Twenty-four-year old Loni Unser will be the fourth generation of Unsers to challenge the mountain. With 37 class and division wins, 15 course records, including five consecutive records set by Bobby Unser, and 26 King of the Mountain crowns, (more than one quarter of those awarded), the Unser family has proven a force to be reckoned with on Pikes Peak. “What better tribute to one of the first families on Pikes Peak than for a fourth generation Unser to cap off the past 100 years of competition and launch auto racing on America’s Mountain into the next century,” shared Fred Veitch, PPIHC Board Chairman.
In 1981 a new era dawned on Pikes Peak, the Rally division. First-timer, Rod Millen, behind the wheel of his Mazda RX7 captured an impressive 6th place finish. Over the course of his 19 years on Pikes Peak, Millen would claim eight division titles, 3 division records and five King of the Mountain victories. Behind the wheel of a Toyota Celica Super Sport Turbo, Millen notched a course record in 1994 on a completely gravel course – 10:04.060.
Millen introduced son, Rhys, to Pikes Peak in 1992 in the Pikes Peak Open class where he captured his first win and a class Rookie of the Year award. Rhys has returned to Pikes Peak 24 times since, collecting an additional twelve wins while setting ten division records in everything from High Performance Showroom Stock to Time Attack to Electric Modified. In 2018 and 2019, teamed with Bentley, Rhys succeeded in breaking records in Production SUV and TA2 – Production. Two times, Rhys Millen has been awarded King of the Mountain, in 2012 and again in 2015 when he accomplished a first on Pikes Peak – besting every gasoline-powered vehicle on the mountain in an electric 2015 Drive eO PP03 in 09:07.222.
Father and son will compete together this year for the first time since 2013. Rod’s 2022 return in his 1998 Toyota Tacoma is highly anticipated, as fans are eager to see it perform in the Unlimited division on the now paved course. Rhys will be behind the wheel of the E-Motion Engineering Porsche 991 GT3R when he returns in the Pikes Peak Open division, the same division he first entered in 1992.
Rod Millen’s record on the dirt course will stand forever as the road surface was paved in phases over a ten-year period from 2002 to 2012. In 2007 Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima broke the overall record, thirteen years after it was set in his Suzuki XL8 with a time of 10:01.408. Unbeaten for the next three years, Tajima celebrated King of the Mountain honors time after time. Finally, in 2011, Tajima’s long awaited sub-10-minute course record was celebrated around the world – 09:51.278. For 25 years, Tajima’s winning record, huge smile and enthusiasm for the sport garnered international media attention and a loyal fan base.
It was only two years later that Pikes Peak rookie, Sebastien Loeb of France, piloted a 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak to the summit in a blazing fast 08:13:878. Many felt it was impossible for time to drop beyond that point. However, another French competitor, Romain Dumas proved he was up to the challenge.
From 2012 to 2021, Dumas raced on Pikes Peak seven times, winning all but once. He held King of the Mountain crowns in 2014, 2016, 2017 and in 2018, a year that was one for the record books. With Dumas behind the wheel of the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, an all-electric prototype, a record shattering run was possible. The story of the 9-month concept-to-creation effort was closely followed in the automotive industry and the racing community. With the thin mountain air being displaced so quickly and forcefully, the sleek, electric racer sounded like a jet engine as it passed by the awestruck spectators. On June 24, 2018 – Dumas reached the 14,115 foot summit in a lightning fast 07:57.148 – an average speed of 94 miles per hour over the 12.42 mile course.
The Road to 100 is paved with the stories of dedicated grassroots racers, jaw-dropping automotive technology, and fully-backed factory teams pushing the limits. Join us for Race Week, June 20-June 26 and see where the Road to 100 leads.
Pick up your copy of the 2022 Souvenir Race Program at Fan Fest on June 24 in downtown Colorado Springs.
To learn more about the history of this iconic race, visit Penrose Heritage Museum, a free admission attraction in Colorado Springs.
ABOUT THE PIKES PEAK INTERNATIONAL HILL CLIMB
First staged in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest race in America. The invitation-only event, often referred to as The Race to the Clouds is held annually on the last Sunday of June on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The famous 12.42-mile (20 km) course consists of 156 turns, boasts an elevation gain of 4,725 feet (1,440 m), and reaches a finish line at 14,115 feet (4,302 m) above sea level. The PPIHC’s automobile categories feature a wide variety of vehicles representing multiple forms of motorsport; everything from production-based Time Attack challengers to purpose-built Open Wheel racers and state-of-the-art Unlimited vehicles take on America’s Mountain pursuing victory. The 100th Running of this iconic motorsport event will take place on June 26, 2022.
Event Coordinator / Media / Historian