COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Ever since he was a child, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, has dreamed of one day racing in the world famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Luckily for him he has had the opportunity to do so 19 times with 2011 being his 20th. No one has competed in the unlimited division more than Tajima and with every attempt there has been one common goal, to break the ten-minute barrier. If he were to break the barrier in any of his previous attempts the victory would have been for himself, but this year is different.

As many of you know, in mid-March of this year, Tajima’s homeland of Japan experienced a disaster when an undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami that destroyed everything in its path, most notably nuclear power plants.  Not only did the tsunami destroy the people of Japan’s possessions and shelter, but it also washed away the lives of over 15,000 friends and loved ones.

Although this disaster occurred over three months ago, Japan is still recovering.  Many of the country’s buildings are still in need of repair, and over $161 million in donations have been collected from people all over the world to help in these rebuilding efforts.  The very generous actions of other is greatly appreciated and will do amazing things for the Japanese people, but as the famous Beatles song states, “Money can’t me love”.  Money can only do so much, especially when an entire country’s morale has been ripped out from under them.

On Monday, at McCloskey Suzuki in Colorado Springs, Tajima stated that this year he will not only race with the intent to beat ten minutes for personal achievement, but to lift the spirits of his country people as well.  He also stated that he will wear patches on his race suit and put stickers on his helmet and car in support for those lost and still struggling back in Japan.

Although he will display obvious signs and symbols of his support, Tajima will also wear very subtle indicators of his additional inspiration.  His new sponsor is GoPro, whose slogan is “Be a Hero”, and ironically that’s exactly what he plans to do.  With a new sponsor comes new graphics, and his Unlimited Car has changed in the past year from titling it a “Monster” (Monster Motorsports) to “Be a Hero” (GoPro).

There have been over 8,800 runs up Pikes Peak in its 88-year history and no one has ever finished in less than ten minutes.  With that in mind, imagine how much hope would be brought to the country of Japan if one of its own could beat all odds and be the first ever to reach the summit in less than ten minutes.  If Tajima is able to accomplish this feat, Pikes Peak will no longer only be know as “America’s Mountain”, but as the mountain that gave Japanese people a reason to hope once again.

Post Race Follow-up

Here is a short clip of a story we did at my internship, KKTV 11 News Colorado Springs.