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The history of Pikes Peak, the race to the clouds

24 mayo, 2021
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Asphalt and dust until 2012

The 90th edition of the emblematic race was the first in which there was no unpaved section, a key characteristic until then, and that marked the personality of the event throughout its history. Since then we have stopped seeing the mythical crusades of WRC drivers like Ari Vatanen or the passage from asphalt to gravel or dirt that so complicates driving the two-wheel categories …

Although the dust clouds are long gone, now there are rubber marks on the asphalt. The race is still spectacular. Thousands of attendees travel to Colorado to witness everything from week-long practice to the race. A hobby that comes from all over the world, attracted by the assistance of emblematic pilots and by the peculiarity of the vehicles that take the exit.

Pikes peak

This has been the asphalt evolution and the land on the course of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb throughout its history:

Year new paved area % asphalt
2002 First mile 6%
2004 End of First Mile – Halfway twenty-one%
2006 Glen Cove – Double Cut 35%
2007 Double Cut – Devil’s Playground 46%
2010 Mile 19 – Summit 57%
2011 Devil’s Playground-Mile 19 76%
2012 Halfway – Glen Cove 100%

Pikes peak

Pikes Peak: Braving the mountain since 1916

The history by car is so extensive that we could dedicate several reports to treat it in detail. In fact the test achieved its fame thanks to the fans of four wheels that arrive with all types of vehicles with the most impressive preparations to beat the time year after year. But since our concern is motorcycles, we will try to make an approximation to their history. Also very extensive, although with intermittent cuts of several decades.

In 1916, the first edition of the race, there were 29 registered motorcycles. At that time one of the most popular models was the 750cc Excelsior made by Ignaz Schwinn, which was piloted by 19 brave men. The winner at that time was Floyd Clymer, with a time of 21: 58.410 minutes.

Pikes peak

From 1917 to 1953 there was no motorcycle category, but it returned with force in 1954 and 1955 when Billy Meier set a new record with Harley-Davidson pulverizing the previous time with a record of 15: 34,100 minutes. A year later, again by decision of the race management, the two-wheeler category was abolished and would not reappear until 1971. The new era was inaugurated by the fierce driver Gary Myers and his Husqvarna who dominated the 750 category with a time little superior to that of Meier established 17 years earlier.

Pikes Peak Modern Times

From the 70’s to the present day (except for a break from 1983 to 1990) motorcycles have competed without pause, breaking records normally every three years. Virtually all brands have achieved glory: Triumph, Yamaha, KTM, Wood-Rotax, Suzuki, Honda, Husqvarna, Aprilia, BMW and Ducati, each with their most iconic models of the moment.

Pikes peak

The categories have historically been very colorful and we have been able to find from 250 2t motorcycles, to classics, sidecars, quads, 450 supermoto and 750 motorcycles, until 2007 the queens of the tour. But in 2007 a new 1200cc category was created to accommodate the most powerful motorcycles over 900cc. The first to win was BMW’s HP2 Megamoto, but also Ducati and KTM have had a lot to say in this category.

Pikes peak

The current categories of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Over the years, the race has taken a certain shape until it reaches the one it has today, and is divided into the current four categories in the motorcycle section. They are as follows:

Pikes Peak Heavyweight

It is the premier class among motorcycles at Pikes Peak. The motorcycles must have a maximum of 4 cylinders and a minimum displacement of 851 cc. It includes some of the fastest motorcycles on the market, including also electric motorcycles.

  • Current record: 2019 – Rennie Scaysbrook – Aprilia Tuono V4 110 – 9: 44: 963 minutes.

Pikes Peak Middleweight

It is the category of “medium weight” motorcycles. 2t or 4t motorcycles, with no more than 4 cylinders, and with a displacement between 501 cc and 850 cc.

  • Current record: 2018 – Chris Fillmore – KTM 790 Duke – 10: 04: 038 minutes.

Pikes Peak Lightweight

It is the smallest category of all, perfect for motorcycle development and new riders. They can accommodate 2t or 4t motorcycles, with a maximum of 2 cylinders, and a maximum displacement of 500 cc.

  • Current record: 2019 – Chris Fillmore – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition – 10: 20: 819 minutes.

Exhibition Powersport

A category created to literally “promote and demonstrate advancements in the practical application of motorsport technology and automotive engineering.” That is, a place where brands can present prototypes and new models. A class in which there are no records as it is an exhibition test.

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The Mountain Kings at Pikes Peak

They are famous for their feats and recognized as the most iconic and courageous riders in the Motorcycle category. Practically unknown outside its borders, but climbing the great Pikes Peak there is no one to beat them. In the 90 years of racing there have been many winners but these deserve special mention for adding 6 or more victories. Along with them, we can’t forget true champions, like Carlin Dune, who lost his life in an accident at Pikes Peak in 2019.

Steve Scott: This emblematic American motocross rider achieved no less than 6 consecutive victories (1972-76 and 1980) with Bultaco in the 250 category. His talent also made him debut on the asphalt with less luck, although he did win some podium finishes. He belongs to the select group of pilots of the North American Hall of Fame.

Chuck Lee: Always with his number 56, Chuk achieved no less than ten victories in 250 cc. The first of them in 1982, when Scott’s reign ends and the last last year on his mythical CR 250 from 1995. In 2010 he participated in the Vintage category with a Triumph Champion and also won.

Pikes peak

Davey Durelle: Known as SuperDave, he holds the record for victories with no less than 14. He is a veteran and during his glorious years he was unbeatable at 750, dominating from 1996 until the arrival of the Trachy brothers. Later he has raced in 500, 450 and 250, always obtaining triumphs. Dirt track rider and motor enthusiast, he is recognized on the track for always wearing number 58.

Greg tracy: Another of the Pikes Peak legends, since he debuted and won in the amateur category in 1996. Winner 6 times, the last three with Ducati in the 1200 category. This family man has managed to be the fastest both with the Hypermotard as with the Multistrada.

Gary Trachy: Greg’s brother, although he incorporates the H in his last name, has seven titles. He feels comfortable in any mount since we have seen him win with TM, Yamaha, Honda in all categories, but his most famous victory was obtained in 2007 with the BMW HP2 Megamoto with which he set a new record and inaugurated the category of 1200 cc.

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