It rises west of Manitou Springs and climbs into the heavens. When you stand on the summit on a clear day, you can see five states’ worth of land and if you look carefully, some of the curvature of the earth. And if you look over the side of the ledges, you can see just how quickly that pit of fear forms in the bottom of your stomach. Pikes Peak has amazed humans since the first set of eyes saw it, has held the respect of everyone who has stood at it’s foothills, and ever since the horseless carraige first summited the peak after a drive that took over five hours, the goal has been to see who can scale the mountain quickest in a race to the top. Pikes Peak is a racing pinnacle, a bucket list item that requires skill to be perfected before an attempt is even made. Some of the best have found themselves sailing off of the edge of the mountain into a genuinely horrifying scenario. But if you get it right, put every corner together and stitch it all into one run, you create magic.
In recent history, the drive seems almost easy. Watch Ari Vatanen’s “Climb Dance” small film that shows him throwing a Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 GR up the hill in 1988 and you wonder just how easy the mountain road could be. Then watch this video of an Oldsmobile Toronado make the same run back in 1966. Hmm…light, purpose built Peugeot versus a front-wheel-drive Yank tank that has enough torque to blow those tires away on a dirt surface. You be the judge on which one did it better!
Yes, I know, different class of cars, time difference, et cetera. You could be in a Toyota Camry on that road and you’ll still get goosebumps going through “The W’s”.