My emotions regarding the process for entering, being accepted and qualifying for this year’s running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb have run the gambit from anxious and excited, to anger and frustration…and most of the rainbow of emotions that fall in between those two extremes. The reasons are difficult to express and I won’t go into any detail here because, even though I have had my emotional moments where I vowed to take my toys and go home. I honestly do understand that there are reasons for why the Board of Directors has made the decisions they’ve made and I feel like things will work themselves out. As they seem to do in situations like this. But that’s not why I called you all here tonight…
Right now, in more than 200 shops and garages, not just here in the US, but all over the world, there are teams getting ready for this years Hill Climb. Think about that for a minute. Two hundred plus dedicated drivers, riders, mechanics and tuners all preparing for what will surely be, the most epic edition in the ninety year history of this grand event.
This will be the first year that the road is 100% tarmac. The dynamic, now, is completely different than it has ever been before. In the beginning there was, of course, only the decomposed pink Rocky Mountain granite that the mountain itself is made up of. Then over the years, dirt and gravel from other locations was trucked in and spread across the surface, making setup and tire selection slightly more challenging. Then the true transition years…when the tarmac began to make its bitter and loathsome appearance on the hill. A little more being added each year over the past decade just to ensure that our tire selection and suspension setup abilities didn’t go without some amount of exercise.
There were many who protested, over these past several years, that the race was being “ruined” by the newly paved surface. Even claims that the “Last Great Race in America”, surely could not survive these transition years, much less prosper in the new of era of the twisty black snake that, inch by inch and turn by turn, would be replacing our beloved pink granite.
This year will be a test. Not only for the 200 plus teams that will risk everything for the reward that awaits them at the summit, but for the organization as a whole. Eyes will be focused like laserbeams, on every level of the PPIHC organization to see if they can, indeed, iron out the many wrinkles that accompany putting together what amounts to an entirely new race. And make no mistake, this IS an entirely new race. More of everything has been thrown at this group (entries, controversy, logistics to name just a few) and it’s our sincere hope that they will all rise to the occasion and help us all put on a great show for the incredible fans that follow this unique spectacle.
Sure, some of the cars and many of the faces will be easily recognizable as those that we associate with the great and long history of this race. But many…very many, will be completely foreign to us. Coming from all corners of the motorsports globe, they will come here to compete on a surface that is familiar, but at the same time, completely unknown. They will risk everything. Not because they are reckless, but rather to test their machines, and ultimately themselves, in one of the most demanding environments imaginable. One of the true greats associated with this race, Eddie Mulder, once told me that it takes a special kind of person to pull the trigger up here. And this year that will be even more true as we test the new surface and see just how dangerous more speed and more traction will be, on the narrow track that does not forgive mechanical failure or a brief lapse in concentration.
So join us. We’ll have a lot more to discuss, as the winter of fabrication and tuning, turn into spring of testing and refining. There will be in-depth stories, as well as the occasional quick updates on many of the programs as they take shape. Including your favorite Pink car, which for 2012 is essentially and entirely new car. Re-engineered from nose to tail, we’ll have much to share about the car itself and the incredible cast of characters that have taken their time and money to help us realize a dream.
See you back here soon.