This is no ordinary car race. This is the 100th running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
It’s tough enough to imagine racing the curving, paved road up America’s Mountain in 2022. Consider the pioneers who first tackled the summit in the primitive racecars of 1916.
Return to Full Speed
The 100th running will be one to remember, featuring a full lineup of racers and the return of Fan Fest, a beloved downtown celebration, on June 24.
“We are pleased to once again host Fan Fest, our pre-race street festival in downtown Colorado Springs,” says Lisa Haight, PPIHC event coordinator and historian. “Look for our 15 top qualifiers in the OPTIMA Batteries Fast 15 Alley and join them for an autograph session. The popular FMX motocross jumpers will also return.”
More than 30,000 people are expected for the 10-block, rain-or-shine street party.
Sponsored by Gran Turismo, the Hill Climb is the second oldest race in America. Often referred to as The Race to the Clouds, this invitation-only event is scheduled for June 26.
“The 100th Running is a banner year,” Haight said. “With so much history behind us, it’s important to honor the past and remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who created this race, saw it through some lean years and broadened its scope around the world making it the spectacle it is today. This year, we welcome six King of the Mountain winners back to competition and induct eight notable individuals to the PPIHC Hall of Fame.”
Drivers will travel from Japan, Luxembourg, Peru and nine other countries, as well as 17 states to participate.
Visualize 156 turns winding along a 12.42-mile course that climbs 4,725 feet. The finish line sits at 14,115 feet above sea level. The thin air closer to the summit can sap power from internal combustion engines and slow competitors’ reflexes, requiring every ounce of gray matter.
In 2022, about 80 drivers will compete in six divisions.
The Porsche Connection
Every division is fun to watch for its own reasons. If you’re looking for the most level playing field, however, check out Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama, the only single-model division. Every car is a Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Competitors this year include George Hess III from Colorado Springs and fourth-generation racer Loni Unser, who will be racing #92, the same number her grandfather and father sported.
Porsche got its start in 1948 and its cars have competed at the Hill Climb since the mid-1950s.
“Shortly after its inception, they were already halfway across the planet” competing at PPIHC, said Joe Brenner, general manager of Porsche Colorado Springs.
In fact, Porsche and the Hill Climb are so inextricably linked that the local dealership hosts its own Driver Meet & Greet leading up to the big event. This year, it will be June 22.
“It’s a little more intimate” than the downtown Fan Fest two days later, Brenner said. “There’s no face painting or balloon animals. … It’s more a conversation with the drivers.”
In 2022, Porsches make up nearly a quarter of the field.
“It’s somewhat a testament to the core values of Porsche,” Brenner said. “It’s not just about performance. It’s about reliability. It’s about the over-engineering of the car.”
When other cars start to chug climbing to extreme altitudes with thinner oxygen, Porsche remains a viable racecar, he said.
“If you’re a climber, this is Everest. This is the ultimate challenge.”
Tom Osborne passed away unexpectedly in 2021. The former PPIHC chairman helped raise the race to new heights. Those who knew him are celebrating his legacy, especially during this iconic 100th running.
“I wish he was here to see it,” Brenner said.