Colorado Springs, CO — A week of early practice and qualifying sessions on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain built excitement for the 98th running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo on August 30.
By Friday, three contenders were out of the race, and two more were scrambling to repair their racecars after crashes on the mountain. Randy Pobst and Steve Goeglein, backed by their crews, worked day and night determined to make it happen – both returning on race day. Pikes Peak rookies, Joshua Allan in a Tesla and Don Wickstrum in a Porsche, weren’t so lucky, and withdrew their entries prior to the race. Likewise, Tommy Boileau, the 2019 Rookie of the Year, was unable to compete on Sunday after a crash near Boulder Park earlier in the week.
Saturday’s pit set up took place in the wind and rain as a storm moved over the mountain in the afternoon and continued into the evening.
Sunday dawned clear and sunny, but revealed up to half an inch of ice coating the road on parts of the upper section. Heavy equipment moved in to clear the slick surface as crews worked diligently to make the course race-ready.
As drivers, teams and race officials geared up for action, the Acura TLX Type S Prototype pace car left the Start Line piloted by three-time Pikes Peak class winner and Acura engineer, Nick Robinson.
Romie Gallardo, mother of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion, the late Carlin Dunne, waved the first green flag sending Scott Birdsall off the line in his 1949 F1 diesel-powered truck, “Old Smokey”.
Open Wheel Division:
Clint Vahsholtz with 23 division and class wins on Pikes Peak stepped to the top of the podium not only as champion of the Open Wheel division, but as King of the Mountain, recording the fastest time of the day and setting a new Open Wheel division record. “I wasn’t as fast as I’ve been on the lower section,” said Vahsholtz, “so on the middle and upper sections I just went 100%.” Vahsholtz bested his previous Open Wheel record set in 2017 with a new record time of 9:35.490 set in the same racecar, a 2013 Ford Open. Vahsholtz is the first American to be crowned King of the Mountain since David Donner in 2005.
Another Pikes Peak champion, Paul Dallenbach, claimed second place with 9:36.181 finishing less than a second behind Vahsholtz in the 2006 PVA-03 Dallenbach Special.
Third place went to Cole Powelson in a 2020 Sierra Alpha finishing in 9:37.449, just one second behind Dallenbach.
Blake Fuller claimed the Exhibition division title in his Tesla Model 3 and set a new Electric Production vehicle record of 11:02.802, improving on his former record set in 2016.
Randy Pobst, only two seconds behind Fuller, garnered second place in the division in his Tesla. Pobst’s team put forth a monumental effort to rebuild his race car after a spectacular crash at Bottomless Pit earlier in the week.
Scott Birdsall finished third in the division, besting the previous diesel powered record set by Uwe Nittel in 2015, with his own record time of 11:24.065.
Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama Division:
Originally, a group of eight was slated to compete, but due to travel complications of COVID-19, the field was whittled to four.
Blake “Bilko” Williams claimed the top spot on Sunday after being forced by adverse weather to run a shortened course in his first appearance on Pikes Peak in 2019. Williams, of Nitro Circus fame, with a time of 10:52.622 was still well off the record pace set by Travis Pastrana in 2018 at 10:33.897.
Colorado Springs resident, George Hess III received second place, and Kathryn Mead, the only woman to enter the 98th running not only garnered third place but was crowned 2020 Rookie of the Year. Mead’s time of 11:36.345 was fastest of the eight rookies competing.
Time Attack 1 Division:
Two Pikes Peak Hill Climb Hall of Fame members returned to racing on America’s Mountain this year, both from Colorado and both choosing Porsche racecars. Driving one of the most gorgeous cars to ever challenge Pikes Peak, the 000 Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport, David Donner took top honors with a time of 9:36.559, the best time he’s recorded on Pikes Peak. The eye-catching art car was a nod to the Rare Shades™ event series.
Jeff Zwart, eight time Pikes Peak division winner, was behind the wheel of a 2019 Porsche 935 – one of only 77 produced. The #11 Porsche, sporting a throwback Mobil 1™ Pegasus livery, finished second in 9:43.921.
Third place went to James Robinson driving a 2019 Acura NSX. James held the record for a hybrid-fueled vehicle set in 2018 and improved on that time charting a new record of 10:01.913.
Pikes Peak Open Division:
Three vastly diverse vehicles claimed the top three positions in the Pikes Peak Open division – a NASCAR-style Chevy SS, a Palatov D2tt and a 2001 Porsche 996 TT. One of only seven racers finishing in under 10 minutes, Layne Schranz won the division in his 2019 Chevy SS in 9:45.360. Schranz, like Vahsholtz and Donner, is a second generation competitor in the Race to the Clouds.
One of the most exciting moments came as the last racer, Formula Drift champion, Daijiro Yoshihara, left the start line behind the wheel of his Toyota 86 and blasted to the summit in 10:05.006 claiming first place in the division.
Derek Boyd finished second in his 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X in 10:11.446. Boyd occupied the top spot most of the day and looked like the winner until Yoshihara crossed the finish line knocking him down one step on the podium.
Third place was awarded to Kevin Wesley in the 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat for his finish time of 10:25.915.
The Parade of Champions was led back down America’s Mountain by a custom-wrapped BMW M8 Competition Coupe driven by Laura Hayes, a BMW Performance Center driving instructor.
Although the 98th running of the Race to the Clouds was conducted without spectators on the mountain, plenty of race fans followed Pikes Peak Live presented by Mobil 1 for the first time on Facebook with legendary Radio Le Mans host John Hindhaugh commentating. “Being able to offer our loyal fans a new way to experience the racing action was something we were really excited about,” explained Megan Leatham, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. “We were determined to do everything we could to continue the 98-year legacy of this motorsports tradition.”
Event organizers, competitors, fans and motorsports enthusiasts from around the world can now set their sights on the 99th running next year and the spectacle that is sure to be the 100th running on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in 2022.
Photo Credits: Leif Bergerson, Larry Chen, Louis Yio, Jason Zindroski
Event Coordinator & Historian
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb