Simon Pagenaud’s epic win at Indy spotlights the historic link between the race and the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Colorado Springs—-America’s oldest auto race is the fabled Indianapolis 500, getting off and running in 1911 and won by Ray Harroun.
The nation’s second-oldest is the fabled Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo, which got its start on America’s Mountain in 1916, held to commemorate the building of a new road, which was won by Rea Lentz driving a Romano Eight in a time of just under 21 minutes.
The two legendary races are historically and anecdotally linked through the performances of the champions and other drivers through the decades.
French driver Simon Pagenaud’s epic triumph in the 103rd running of the Indy 500 on May 25 added another chapter to the fascinating bond between the two races.
“This race chooses its winners,” Pagenaud said after holding off Alexander Rossi in a frantic finish. “Today, I was the chosen one.”
Pagenaud is the latest Indy 500 champion who also gritted his teeth on the historic Pikes Peak Highway in the race to the summit of the 14,115-foot mountain near Colorado Springs.
That list includes Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Parnelli Jones and Al Unser, each a winner at Indy and Pikes Peak over the years. Though Pagenaud did not win at Pikes Peak, his 2013 ride on the mountain remains notable nonetheless.
Driving a highly-modified Honda Odyssey minivan, Pagenaud was a crowd favorite in his Pikes Peak debut, powering up the 12.42-mile course to a second-place finish in the Exhibition Class with a clocking of 12:54.325.
“For me, it was amazing,” said rookie Pagenaud that day. “Pikes Peak was always a dream for me, ever since I was a kid in France. There is a lot of interest in this event in Europe, and I think that’s why you saw so many French drivers this year.
That reference to French drivers at Pikes Peak was something that exploded into history last summer when Romain Dumas, driving a Volkswagen electric I.D. R, smashed fellow French star Sébastien Loeb’s 2013 Pikes Peak record (8:13.878), becoming the first driver to traverse the rugged course in under eight minutes (7:57.148) on a gray Sunday morning.
On June 30 at the 97th running of the Race to the Clouds on Pikes Peak, three French drivers will attempt to carry on the national legacy established by competitors like Loeb, Dumas, Pagenaud, Vincent Beltoise, and the great Michèle Mouton.
All three are entered in the Time Attack I Class: Raphael Astier (Le Teil) in a 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Turbo, and two rookies–William Cavailhes (Montpellier) in a 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RGT, and Christian Schmitter (Strasbourg) in his 2013 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Mike Moran firstname.lastname@example.org
PPIHC Senior Media Consultant
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