For us, race day started at 4:45 am. Kevin had set an alarm for 5am, but that turned out to be unnecessary. The gate at the bottom of the mountain opens to spectators at 4am. Some camp in the cars at the bottom starting the night before, others get in line in the early hours of the morning. By 4:30, the first cars had reached our camp at Glen Cove, at about mile marker 13, and 11000 ft. Not long after that, the noise from the cars going further up the mountain and from others packing camp was enough to get us up and packing in the 40 degree temp. The stars gave way to dawn as we rode 2000 ft further up the mountain to our destination at Devil’s Playground, just after mile marker 16. (The peak, where the racers wait after their run, is over 14000 ft.)
Devil’s playground is considered one of the best places to watch the race. At nearly 13000 ft, its above the tree-line. From our perch on the side of the hill, we could see several corners around mile marker 16, parts of the track all the way down to glen cove, and if we used binoculars, we would see corners several miles before that. All in all, we could probably see several miles of the 12.42 miles course. Racing started with the vintage motorcycle class at about 9am under sunny skies. (I was grateful for the sun, it was really cold up there.)
We both love side-car racing. Its completely insane. Two of the three entries from this race are also racing in the famous Isle of Man.
From our spot, you can see the course 2000 ft below at our camping spot at Glen Cove.
This racing semi was the only entry of its kind, and the only one I’ve ever seen. With 1800 Hp, its pretty unique. It was also absurdly fast. The driver was really good too, except when he spun out at this corner. If he hadn’t done that, his time would have defied belief.
Carlin Dunne won his class again this year on his Ducati Multistrada, and was also the third fastest up the mountain overall. On a motorcycle. That’s amazing.
This year apparently had more delays than normal. There was only one serious crash that we know of, where a car went tumbling off the course and down the hill. We found out later that both the driver and co-driver were ok after spending a night in the hospital. Otherwise, there were some other crashes, and some mechanical failures. The most notable failure was Pike’s Peak reigning champion “Monster” Tajima’s car. He was the main draw for many people, as he’s been the fastest up the hill for the last several years in a several hundred or maybe 1000 Hp car. Since beating the 10 minute mark for the first time last year, he switched to electric car this year. Speculation is that in addition to being the first to beat 10 minutes, he wanted to move on and set records in the electric class. We were both really looking forward to watching his run, but the car had some sort of failure early on in the course, and we never got to see it.
As a result of the delays, the racing took longer than normal. The afternoon weather rolled in, and it started hailing on us. We found refuge with some new friends in their Jeep, which I was extra grateful for, since I hadn’t really been warm all day. Eventually, the race organizers had to close the top half of the course, and the last 15 or so cars only got to run to Glen Cove.
Race day ended with a 2+ hour decent down the mountain at sunset. Spending all day in weather at elevation was exhausting. Fortunately, the rain had finally stopped, and I was finally warm by the time we reached the bottom.
08/12/2012 – 47 miles. Despite dealing with the extra long day and extreme weather, I would go again (maybe not on a motorcycle). This is a great race to watch.