June 27, 2013 Updated: June 27, 2013 at 7:20 am
A $3 million project to create a new Hill Climb museum and expand the Carriage Museum by 4,000 square feet will be announced Thursday, The Gazette has learned.
The new museum will feature artifacts and memorabilia from the history of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, including the first motorized vehicle to climb the mountain. It will be on the west side of the Carriage Museum, located between the two Lake Circle roundabouts on The Broadmoor property, and is expected to be open by next year's race.
"It will be a very high caliber of historic memorabilia," said Tom Osborne, chairman of the Colorado Springs Sports Corp. that puts on the race.
The announcement will be made during a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. Thursday. El Pomar will fund and maintain the museum, and The Broadmoor donated the land for it. The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.
For El Pomar, it was fitting that those who control the purse strings of the foundation that Spencer Penrose started decided to fund a museum on The Broadmoor grounds to honor the Hill Climb. Penrose not only started the Hill Climb, the 91st version of which will run Sunday, but he built the highway on which the famed race is run.
"This is really a legacy of theirs," said Bill Hybl, chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation that was started by Spencer and Julie Penrose in 1937. "We consider this a legacy project."
The intent of the museum will be to serve more as an educational experience than a Hall of Fame for the race. Digitized video dating back to the first running in 1916 will tell the race's story, along with that of the highway.
Cars and motorcycles will also be prominently featured. A 1906 Readings Standard motorcycle and the Ducati Multistrada that became the first motorcycle to break the 10-minute mark last year have already been donated by Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli and Spider Grips Ducati, respectively. Others that organizers hope to include are vehicles from nine-time champion Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima and the mangled remains of the vehicle Jeremy Foley spectacularly crashed off the side of the mountain last year.
The plan is to include current or semi-current cars on display in front of the museum.
"I don't care how old you are," Hybl said. "Whether you're 6 or 86, race cars just have appeal."
Racing certainly seemed to appeal to Spencer Penrose, who had cars in the event several times before his death in 1939.
"He was a real racing enthusiast," Hybl said. "More than that, Mr. Penrose, and I don't believe he'd object to this, was a real promoter. Whether it was the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, whether it was the Cog Railway, whether it was the Pikes Peak road or whether it was racing, he was a promoter. He believed, from what we can tell, that the community benefited from a variety of promotions and I have to believe also he enjoyed it."
Hybl, citing the $1.3 billion annual impact and 14,000 local jobs created by the tourism industry, believes the museum will be another attraction to bring people to Colorado Springs.
"It's like any other community," Hybl said. "The trustees feel if we don't move forward in offering new and exciting things for the traveling public and local people, that we fall behind others."
The museum will be free to the public and include a miniature version of Pikes Peak Highway. It will also include a "garage" area that will focus on race winners, participants and include a heavy focus on the local volunteers who have kept the race going.
For the Hill Climb and the nonprofit Sports Corp., landing the backing to build the museum was nothing short of a coup. The facility will also be used for race receptions, press conferences and other purposes.
"We do not have the financial wherewithal to build a museum on this grand scale," Osborne said. "Without El Pomar and The Broadmoor, this would not have happened."
Several past and current drivers are among those planning to be in attendance at the groundbreaking Thursday.