Its 2:30 on a Sunday morning standing in line at 7-Eleven: bananas, a few energy drinks and a gallon of water. Seems like a pretty reasonable days supply of nutrition. I hop into a BMW with newly found friends that had just driven 20 hrs from Pullman Washington to see the last year of dirt at Pikes Peak. With just an hour of sleep on the books I’m anxious as we roll up the freeway towards Pikes Peak. At 3:00a.m. We pass miles of spectator cars waiting to gain access to the mountain. We roll through the entrance passing a quick check for credentials and away we go following the second car in our convoy.
As we snake our way up the dark mountain, following the few dancing red lights of the cars ahead, we slowly roll up to 8 mile (also know as pit row), lit up like a small city. There’s a hustle and bustle to shadows ducking between cars and trailers. Before we can figure out the rhythm of the morning, we’re on our way up the hill. Quickly passing, Hansen’s Corner, and Engineers Corners, we make it to Halfway Picnic Grounds at 9,960 feet. Just past this point, the road turns to the last 2.5 miles stretch of dirt. A few more switchbacks and climbing another 1,000 feet we arrive at Ski Park, my crew’s final destination. Kyle Lewis and Matt Galantuomini continued their journey up to Devils Playground.
As we navigate down a dark path to a large rock quarry filled with machinery for the upcoming paving, we find a place to park. Excited for the day’s events, yet knowing it was more than 5 hours till race time. I climbed a rock pike with my back to the wind and used my camera bag as a pillow. I closed my eyes hoping for sleep. Anxiously awaiting the sound of cars, awake from the adrenaline of the morning and energy drink, I slowly watched the dark night speckled with stars, slowly catch fire as the sun rose from the east and illuminate the sky.
As the friends I had just met slept from their long travels, I ventured off and talked with course officials and the Police that were on duty. (As a photographer, you can never have too many officials on your side.) As the hours passed, my friends slowly rose from their slumber to find me at Gilly’s Corner. As the day progressed we moved to Heitman’s Hill and back.
Pikes Peak is not just a road to be driven, but a mountain that needs to be conquered and respected. Words cannot express watching professional drivers battling against a mountain with pure determination.
For info on photos please contact: Eric Gearhart firstname.lastname@example.org