Originally called “El Capitán” by Spanish settlers, the mountain was renamed Pike’s Peak after Zebulon Pike, Jr., an explorer who led an expedition to the southern Colorado area in 1806.
“…here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles (24 or 26 km) from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day’s march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinnacle. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill-provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return.”
By 1873, a primitive road led to the peak, where a weather station had been established. In 1901, two Denver men drove and occasionally pushed the first automobile-a locomobile steamer to the summit. Fourteen years later, local financier Spencer Penrose spent $263,000 to rebuild the road for automobile travel. The next year, Penrose, who founded the Broadmoor Hotel, started the Pikes Peak National Hill Climbing Contest, as a way to advertise Pikes Peak Highway and to encourage growth of the burgeoning automobile tourism industry in Colorado Springs. (Penrose had a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service until 1935.) With an astonishing time of 20 minutes, 55.6 seconds, the first winner of the hill climbing contest was Rea Lentz, driving the race’s smallest car, Romano Demon Special.
Dubbed the “Race to the Clouds,” the hill climb became a testing ground for new automobiles. The auto industry found the twisty mountain highway a wonderful testing ground for power of multi-valve engines, overhead cams, and superchargers, and introducing balloon tires and four-wheel drive.
From 1936 to 1939, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Willis Post No. 1, sponsored the race, using American Automobile Association rules. In 1956, the United States Automobile Club became the race’s sanctioning body. Over the years, the race has expanded to include sports cars, motorcycles, stock cars, and has attracted champion racers from around the world. During the 1990s, the fastest growing race division was for trucks, and a division for electric cars was introduced. The race’s name was also changed to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Still the race continues to be a local tradition, and local drivers continue to win.
Video uploaded by U Tube user pikespeaklibrary
2011 Monster Tajima’s
Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima (60 years old!!) breaks his own 2007 record 10′01″408 with this new 9′51″278 in his “Suzuki Monster Sport SX4 Hill Climb Special”. He broke his record despite losing his radiator in the last phases of the race. The car spewed water from the radiator over the final 500 yards of the race.(you can clearly hear the change in the video).
Tajima overcame an overheated engine and wind gusts of up to 40 mph.
“I took my car to the limit,” Tajima said. “And it held up to everything I asked of it”. Before the race, Tajima predicted he would break the course record, finish in under 10 minutes and win the final time the course would include a section of gravel. Gravel remains in fact on just under three miles of the course, from the Halfway Picnic Grounds to near Glen Cove. Race officials said the course will be completely paved for the 2012 race.
Video Uploaded by U Tube user GoProCamera