Pikes Peak Int'l Hill Climb news 2009-07-13

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87th Race To The Clouds On Sunday Will Feature An All-Out Assault On The Peak's Elusive Ten-Minute Barrier! Colorado Springs, July 13------The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with 51 auto or truck drivers and 115 motorcycle racers in 11 ...

87th Race To The Clouds On Sunday Will Feature An All-Out Assault On The Peak's Elusive Ten-Minute Barrier!

Colorado Springs, July 13------The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with 51 auto or truck drivers and 115 motorcycle racers in 11 divisions, including automotive, semi truck, exhibition, open wheel, super stock car, pro truck and motorcycle classes, will roar off on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Vintage cars, featuring three 1960s-era Ford Mustangs, a 1952 DeSoto Firedome 8, a 1954 Oldsmobile Super 88, a 1955 Chevy Corvette and a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, will open the competition schedule for the 87th running of the Race To The Clouds.

The competition order:

Vintage Cars, Motorcycle Sid Car, Vintage Motorcycles, 450 Quad Motorcycles, 250 Pro Motorcycles, 450 Pro Motorcycles, 500 Quad Motorcycles, Supermoto Motorcycles, 750 Pro Motorcycles, 1200 Pro Motorcycles, Exhibition Car/Trucks, Time Attack, Pikes Peak Open, Super Stock Cars, Open Wheel, Unlimited, Pro truck, Exhibition Big Rig Trucks.

The Race to the Clouds takes its competitors to the summit of Pikes Peak, a distance of 19.99 km (12.42 miles) over 156 turns, climbing 1,439 meters (4,721 ft) from the start at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway at 2,862 meters (9,390 ft) on grades averaging 7% over both gravel and paved sections.

NASCAR rookie Max Papis will drive the pace car to open the historic race, which will be viewed by several thousand spectators who line the road to the summit.

The buzz about this year's race centers around four well-known international drivers who will try to crack the Peak's elusive 10-minute barrier for the first time in the Unlimited division.

Two Supercharged Ford Rallycross Fiestas from the Olsberg Motor Sport Evolution team from Sweden make their debut, driven by Andreas Eriksson and rally legend Marcus Gronholm. Eriksson, 35, is a four-time Swedish rally champion, with multiple Rallycross victories, and Gronholm, 41, is one of World Rallying's greatest drivers, with two World Championships and 30 WRC victories.

Japanese superstar Tajima will be back again this year in his Suzuki Sport speed machine to go for the mark again, but this time, he faces the new and exciting challenge posed by the entry of the Fiesta and their super-star drivers. He clocked 10:18.250 last summer in his attempt to crack the barrier.

But the trio will also face British Rallycross Champion Mark Rennison, a new entry who will bring his famous 1999 Ford RS200 to the Peak to square off with the three other international drivers in the assault on the record.

In all, a dozen defending champions are back from the 2008 event including record holders like veteran Rhys Millen of Huntington Beach, California (Time Attack 2WD) He set a world record on the Peak last summer with his winning clocking of 12:31.06 in his 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP, but this time, he'll be driving a modified 550-hp Hyundai Genesis Coupe as he goes for his third straight win.

2008 Super Stock Car winner Clint Vahsholtz (Woodland Park, Colo.) has signed up to defend his Pikes Peak crown in a 2002 Ford Mustang to represent the famed family again. He's won 15 of the 17 Hill Climbs he's entered, and needs only three more wins on the Peak to break his dad's (Leonard) record mark of 18.

The event's popular "Fan Fest," on Friday, July 17, presented by Budweiser on Tejon, Bijou and Platte in Downtown Colorado Springs, will include seven blocks of entertainment from 5:00-10:00 p.m. for the public to enjoy.

On the scene will be the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales, a chance to meet the drivers and racers, view their cars and motorcycles, music with live local bands, a Firefighters Chili Cook-Off, food and refreshments, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb's Mobile Museum, a merchandise and race ticket booth, displays of custom cars and motorcycles, and stuff for kids like Freestyle Motocross Jumping exhibitions.

The first running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1916 was promoted by regional icon Spencer Penrose, who had finished widening the narrow carriage road into a much wider "Pikes Peak Highway." The race was an idea to encourage tourism.

It began on August 10 as an automobile race featuring Barney Oldfield and Eddie Rickenbacker to help promote a new highway to the top of a Colorado mountain, and it is now America's second oldest motor sports race, behind only the fabled Indy 500.

Among those entered in that first-ever event was crowd-pleaser Oldfield. He drove a big Delage, and while he did not distinguish himself among the top drivers, spectators came to watch this famous man attack the Peak. Rickenbacker, later to become famous as a World War I flying ace, was also registered to drive.

Duesenberg automobiles were driven, as were Cadillacs, Hudsons and a Stutz. Entry fees were $25 to $50, depending on the event. First Prizes ranged from $500 to $2,000 cash, again depending upon which event the driver entered. To further encourage competition Penrose offered a 43-inch trophy covered in Colorado silver and gold, valued at $10,000. The winners could keep the trophy for a year.

-credit: www.ppihc.com

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