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Friday 20 August 2021

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Pikes Peak Cancels Motorcycle Program Permanently

Having only recently announced 26 June 2022 as a planned date for the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Board of the Directors of the PPIHC has made the decision to discontinue motorcycle competition as part of the annual 'Race to the Clouds'.
"Motorcycle competition has been part of the history of the race off-and-on since 1916 and has been both thrilling and tragic for competitors and fans alike," explained Fred Veitch, Interim Chairman of the Board. "After two years of research, deliberation, thoughtful consideration and advice from colleagues in the motorsports industry, this has been a difficult decision, but we believe it is the right decision and one that is in the best interest of the organization at this time."


The PPIHC is the second oldest race in America. The invitation-only event is held annually on Pikes Peak - 'America's Mountain' - near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The famous 12.42-mile course consists of 156 turns, boasts an elevation gain of 4,725 feet, and reaches a finish line at 14,115 feet above sea level. The PPIHC's automobile categories feature a wide variety of vehicles representing multiple forms of motorsport, everything from production-based Time Attack challengers to purpose-built Open Wheel racers and state-of-the-art unlimited vehicles take on 'America's Mountain' pursuing victory.
Ever since the program to pave the road up the mountain (it was completed around 2011), the event started to change in character, with an ever greater diversity of motorcycles and powersports vehicles taking part - including Quads and electric motorcycles - and speeds and times getting ever faster.
Tragedy struck in 2015 and 2016, with two consecutive year motorcycle fatalities. In the last race before the pandemic forced cancelation in 2020 and 2021, in 2019, Ducati rider, four-time winner and former outright lap record holder Carlin Dunne was killed on the final turn en route to a new sub-10 minute record.

Carlin Dunne was a matter of yards away from recapturing his record time for the PPIHC when he was killed in 2019 on the final turn (at around 14,000 feet) in what we now know will have been the last ever running of the 'Race to the Clouds' to have involved a motorcycle program.

Following his death, an initial decision to suspend motorcycle involvement for 2020 was taken by the Board of Directors, pending consideration of the long-term viability of the event in general and the ongoing involvement of motorcycles in particular.
In a statement at the time, Tom Osborne, Chairman, stated: "Motorcycles have been a part of the PPIHC for the past 29 years, and their history on 'America's Mountain' dates back to the inaugural running in 1916. That said, the motorcycle program hasn't been an annual event. They have run 41 of the 97 years we've been racing on Pikes Peak. It's just time to take a hard look at every aspect of the race, including the motorcycle program, and determine whether or not the event may change."
Now we know that the 100th and subsequent running of the PPIHC will be without motorcycles, Australian rider Rennie Scaysbrook's 2019 winning time, in a new record of 9:44.963 on his Aprilia 1100 cc Tuono V4, will remain the record in perpetuity.
Lucy Glöckner, Rookie of The Year in 2018 and the only woman to enter the motorcycle program in 2019, was the second fastest overall riding a BMW S1000R - she was the first woman to break the 10-minute mark and will remain the fastest woman ever to compete on Pikes Peak.
Carlin Dunne will remain the fastest ever rider to complete the course on an electric motorcycle, having set a time of 10:00.694 in the Pikes Peak Challenge on a Lightning electric Superbike in 2013.