May 28, 2014 12:00 PM by Jordan Mason
Colorado Springs-----------Experts acknowledge that The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a one-of-a-kind motorsport phenomenon, the world's most famous hill climb with nothing like it anywhere else.
The race was first run in 1916 and was the brainchild of Spencer Penrose, the founder of The Broadmoor, to help promote his new luxury hotel property. In the early years, the race was run on dirt and gravel.
Fast forward to modern times, and the 12.42-mile course is now fully paved, with the Start Line at 9,390 feet and the finish at the Summit of America's Mountain at 14,115 feet.
Over the years, the race has somehow managed to attract a combination of versatile drivers and racers rom around them world. The list of champions included famed competitors like Louis Unser, Al Rogers, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Roger and Rick Mears, Al Unser, Wally,Jr., and Paul Dallenbach, Eddie Mulder and Bobby and David Donner.
In recent years, the list of international competitors has increased dramatically, and has led to achievements like Japan's Nobuhiro Tajima, already a legend in his own nation's tracks and courses. The 64-year-old driver won the Unlimited division, where anything goes a total of nine times, becoming the first competitor to break the elusive 10-minute mark in 2011 with a stunning 9:51.278 clocking.
Tajima surprised race veterans in 2011 by switching to the Electric Modified Division, highlighting the sudden popularity of the Electrics, autos and bikes. Though a fire sidelined his dream in 2012, he piloted his 2013 E-Runner Pikes Peak Special to a new record of 9.46.530.
But the big story last year was the appearance of nine-time consecutive World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb of France, the most decorated WRC driver in history.
To the delight and stunning surprise of the thousands of fans on the course and around the world, Loeb exploded up the mountain in a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak as if he owned the venerable course, hitting the Finish Line in a jaw-dropping 8:13.878!
Loeb isn't entered this year, but another famed French driver will have his eyes on that record and further enhancing the status of the international competitors.
35-year old Romain Dumas, a French driver who lives in Basil, Switzerland, flashed to a 9:46.181 in the Pikes Peak Open Division in 2012,won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 hours of Sebring and a host of other prestigious international races.
So, who might be this year's Sebastien Loeb and do something special to grab the headlines after the conclusion of America's second-oldest motor sports race.
It just might be British motorcycle ace Guy Martin, whose name is known all over Europe on scores of tracks.
One of Great Britain's most accomplished motorcycle speed stars has entered The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and his goal as a rookie is simple - set a new motorcycle speed record on America's Mountain on Sunday, June 29.
He's set a very lofty goal for himself, indeed. Only two bikes have ever broken the ten-minute mark on the Peak, and they came back-to-back in 2012. The Peak motorcycle record was set in 2012 by Carlin Dunne in the 1205 Pro Division with a clocking of 9:52.819 on a Ducati. Greg Tracy, also on a Ducati, became the second racer to break the ten-minute mark with a blistering 9:58.262 moments later.
Dunne had the fastest motorcycle clocking last year with a 10:00.694 in the Exhbition Powersports field.
Martin will be entered in the Pikes Peak Challenge - UTV/Exhibition Division, racing on a 2014 Martek Custom bike that he's building for himself.
Martin is a famous British motorcycle racer, television presenter, truck mechanic and hands-on engineer. The 32-year-old racer has his own television show, "Speed With Guy Martin," and has a new book out titled "Guy Martin- My Autobiography."
He is probably best known for his successful motorcycle road racing career, most notably for grabbing the headlines in the Isle of Man TT races, a 38-mile road race, but more recently his career has taken off in a different direction when he began to appear on TV, presenting the popular series "The Boat that Guy Built" on BBC 1 which was followed by the 2012 Channel 4 series 'How Britain Worked' and, most recently (2013) the Channel 4 series Speed with Guy Martin. Guy undertook a series of speed-based challenges, exploring the boundaries of physics and learning about the science of speed. During the series Guy broke the British record for outright speed on a bicycle, hitting an amazing 122.4 mph and smashed the world gravity-powered sledge speed record.
Known to have been called "The fastest man never to win the TT", Martin's motorcycle racing career began when he moved to Ireland and in his debut year won the 'Cock o' the North' and International Gold Cup races at Scarborough as well as the Irish 750cc Support Championship. He came 7th in his first Senior TT race, setting the fastest lap by a newcomer. In 2005 he was the only rider to finish all five of his TT races inside the top six.
He has raced for several teams including AIM Yamaha (2006) Hydrex Honda (2007-9) and Wilson Craig Honda (2010) when he went to the Isle of Man looking to achieve his first TT victory.
Or, will Sunday's hero be one of the established American veterans that PPIHC fans have come to love and embrace, like Paul Dallenbach of Basalt, Colorado, who has seven triumphs to his credit over 20 attempts on Pikes Peak, including the Time Attack Championship in 2013 when he broke the ten-minute barrier in 9:46.001.
Maybe it will be 66-year old Randy Schranz of Colorado Springs, who will be competing on the Peak for the astounding 40th time this summer while winning a battle with cancer. Randy won the Pikes Peak Open division in 2011 and 2013, and he and son Layne once again are entered again, returning to compete against one another in the Pikes Peak Open.
There are 17 international auto drivers entered among the 74-car field and 23 international motorcycle racers in a field of 71 bikes.
The Race to the Clouds on America's Mountain has truly become "International" in every sense of the word and it's getting bigger every summer.
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