An investigation by the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb’s race director and race safety team found that Carlin Dunne died Sunday after he “highsided coming into the last turn before the finish line,” race officials said Tuesday.
Dunne’s 2019 Ducati Streetfighter V4 Prototype was inspected, and there’s no evidence of a mechanical failure, a news release says. “After reviewing footage from the incident,” investigators determined that Dunne had highsided, which happens when the back tire loses control and regains it violently, usually throwing the rider from the motorcycle.
A highside crash is considered to be one of the most dangerous kinds of motorcycle crashes.
“The PPIHC has an internal camera crew at the summit to capture each competitor’s finish,” Executive Director Megan Leatham said in an email to The Gazette. “We were able to analyze this video footage frame by frame to get a clear understanding of the racing accident.”
Witnesses recall seeing Dunne hit a bump in the road at a high rate of speed, which can cause the bike to highside, though the investigation results made no mention of a bump. Dunne flew from the front of the bike, across the road and 20 to 30 feet down an embankment, witnesses said.
Dunne’s death was the seventh fatality linked to the historic race and the third motorcyclist to die in six years. In 2014, Bobby Goodin, 54, wrecked his motorcycle moments after crossing the finish line, losing control as he slowed on the gravel parking lot atop Pikes Peak. The next year, Carl Sorensen, 39, went off a cliff during a final practice run along a 3-mile stretch before the summit, plunging to his death.
“We mourn the tragic death of Carlin and he will remain in our hearts forever as part of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb family,” Leatham said in a statement. “Carlin was loved by everyone who was lucky enough to know him. We not only lost one of the greatest ever to compete on Pikes Peak, but more importantly an irreplaceable friend to this organization.”
The crash happened at 10:29 a.m. as Dunne, 36, of Santa Barbara, Calif., was making his final push to the finish line.
A helicopter circled the summit for two to three minutes, and an ambulance was sent to the site. Crews spent about 15 minutes helping Dunne.
The racer was taken by stretcher to an ambulance about 11 a.m., then transported to Penrose Hospital via helicopter, according to El Paso County Search and Rescue’s Facebook page.
He was pronounced dead at 11:42 a.m. The county Coroner’s Office will determine the cause and manner of his death after autopsy results are received, spokeswoman Sandy Way said.
The event’s rulebook says oversight for the safety of the hill climb lies with Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb Educational Museum, which “shall be solely responsible for insurance, safety precautions and vehicles, participant safety, course conditions, crowd control, ambulances, fire protection, and medical support.”
Although the highway up Pikes Peak typically falls within Colorado Springs jurisdiction, local police won’t investigate the crash, Lt. Jim Sokolik said Monday.
“It’s a closed-course sporting event, so it’s much like if you have the Daytona 500, you had a traffic crash and it was fatal, a police organization doesn’t come out and do traffic cones and measurements and stuff,” Sokolik said.
“The coroner does make a final determination of manner and cause of death, but because it’s basically a sporting event, the regular rules and the law don’t apply.”
The Gazette’s Lindsey Smith contributed to this report.