Dirt roads to the summit almost over for Hill Climb

June 28, 2010
photo - The days of dirt are almost over for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Photo by BRYAN OLLER, THE GAZETTE
The days of dirt are almost over for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Photo by BRYAN OLLER, THE GAZETTE 

The days of dirt roads at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will soon be history. A brighter future lays paved in asphalt, most at this past weekend’s event agreed.

Next year’s race, the 89th running, will be the last with any dirt stretch over the 12.42-mile course to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. The stretch on top will be paved this summer with the lower section of dirt expected after the 2011 event.

“By 2012 it will be paved,” race director Phil Layton said.

The most noticeable change will be the vehicles the fans see.

“It will take a different kind of car to be successful,” Layton said. “You’ll see more BMWs and Porsches, more sports cars.”

Greg Tracy, the 1205 cc motorcycle champion, said he used a factory-built Ducati this year in anticipation. No need for a tire good on both surfaces is one less headache.

The nation’s second-oldest motorsports race has a $500,000 budget that relies on entry fees, Layton said. He hopes monetary support from companies leery of dirt could become available.

It won’t be painless. Quad 500 cc driver Jim Vidmar of Colorado Springs says some divisions, including his own, may disappear.

Layton expects the Open Wheel car division to shrink as a result. The number of entries overall likely will not dwindle.

“I have an F1 so I would love to do it,” vintage champ Doug Mockett said. “The records will fall like crazy.”

Imaginations ran wild at the thought of smashing the 10-minute barrier.

“We may see 8-minute runs someday,” Pikes Peak Open champ Dave Carapetyan said. “That day can’t come soon enough.”

Motorcycles add to Sunday’s record haul

Five division records and the overall motorcycle mark fell Sunday, raising the day’s total to 13 records, with another (36 finishes, Randy Schranz and Louie Unser) tied.

Greg Tracy set the 1205 cc mark in 11 minutes, 46.6 seconds and Gary Trachy went 11:33.7 in the 750 class to take over that and the overall mark. Chuck Lee of Castle Rock won the vintage division in a record time of 12:58.7. Davey Durelle set the 250 mark (12:27.239) and Michael Coburn added the quad 500 in 11:44.5.

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