Today is the start of summer and also the start of race week in Colorado Springs where the 89th running of the Pikes Peak hillclimb will take place on Sunday, June 26th. If you've been following the saga of the second oldest auto race in the U.S. you'll know that fans of the famous hillclimb expect the .
They've actually been expecting it to be broken every year since 1994. That's when Rod Millen managed to traverse the 156-turn, 12.42 mile dirt road in 10 mins 4.06 seconds in his one-off Toyota Celica. His record was not broken until 2007 when Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima lopped almost all of 3 seconds off the record in his Suzuki XL7 Hillclimb Special.
Monster has won the Pikes Peak five times. This year he's driving a Suzuki SX4 powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.1-liter V-6 producing 910 horsepower. However, he faces even tougher challengers with Rhys Millen, Rod's son, tackling the hill in his one-off Hyundai Genesis RMR PM580 that produces 750 horsepower. The horsepower champ though has to be Paul Dallenbach, an experienced competitor in the Race to the Clouds, who will be driving a single seater with 1307 horsepower on tap.
Other potential winners in the unlimited class include Jean Philippe Dayraut in an 850 horsepower Dacia Duster and Dave Carapetyan in a highly modified Mitsubishi Evo.
There are 194 racers entered in this year's event, driving everything from a Nissan Leaf to an Austin Healey Mk III, to a production class Hyundai Genesis Coupe, driven by Rod Millen, who is competing for the first time since 1999. Jeff Zwart is also back, in a new Porsche GT2 RS.
More than anything the weather is a key factor in the race, as it affects the surface of the dirt. However more than half of the road to the 14,110 ft summit is now paved, making weather less of a factor. Next year the whole course is expected to be paved, which means cars can be fitted with slicks and the record will most definitely fall, as long as it's dry.
The Pikes Peak hillclimb is one of those races that should be on everyone's "bucket list". If you can't make it to this year's potentially historic event, plan on being there next year.