The Race to the Clouds

What about some racing history and a bit of ‘awesome’?

In completely rectangular state of Colorado in the US there’s a mountain, right at the front end of the Rocky Mountains. It’s called Pikes Peak and it’s the theatre of an annual hill climb racing event, held since 1916.

Also dubbed The Race to the Clouds, the 12.42 mile track features 156 turns and an altitude difference between start and finish of over 4,700 feet, ending at over 14,000 feet. The race is open to host of different racing classes, with the overall standing record at just under 10 minutes (9:51.278 to be exact), achieved by a Japanese driver named Nobuhiro Tajima in 2011. He was driving a purpose built Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special by Monster Racing. Looks nothing like a normal SX4 and laughs at everything else with a spoiler.

Anyway, this year the event is to be held coming weekend, after having been postponed due to raging forest fires in the nearby area. Exactly 25 years ago an Audi S1, driven by Walter Röhrl, flew up the mountain in what was then a record time. Is it then a coincidence that Audi revealed a teaser image of an Audi RS5 with a nifty colour scheme only a few days ahead of the event? I’d applaud that, despite that it’s never going to make a record run this time.

Mr. Röhrls run of 1987 is the topic of a bunch of German YouTube videos, but couldn’t find one in English. You’ll have to make do with Fritz, the friendly neighbourhood documentary narrator.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8AzQolK_84&w=420&h=315]

My personal favourite footage of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb event, however, is a clip called Climb Dance. It won a bunch of film prizes and there’s a reason. The footage by French director Jean Louis Mourey of Finnish racing driver – and later Member of the European Parliament Ari Vatanen, running his Peugeot 405 T16 into the sky is absolutely amazing.

Pay particular attention to the unlucky bug at the 2:50 marker and the improvised sunscreen!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxIxlN36bGI&w=420&h=315]

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