It was a tough 24 hours for Codie Vahsholtz following the death of his Ducati motorcycle teammate and friend Carlin Dunne on June 30 during the 97th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
“Somewhere, we’re fist bumping right now,” an emotional Vahsholtz said following the awards ceremony at Hotel Elegante on July 1.
Vahsholtz, 28, a Woodland Park native, was Dunne’s teammate for the last two years. They met in 2011, when Codie was a rookie rider on Pikes Peak and Dunne was already considered one of the best riders in the world.
A year later, Dunne was the first motorcyclist to conquer the backbreaking Pikes Peak race course in less than 10 minutes (9:52.819).
“Carlin is somebody I always looked up to,” Vahsholtz said. “He showed up and hauled (butt). He did unbelievable things. He was like Superman to me. That’s who he will always be to me.”
Dunne was just 36 when he died, but already a legend in the race world. So when word spread of his death from a crash less than 100 yards from the finish line, Vahsholtz and his teammates did their best to hold their emotions together.
“Carlin Dunne made me a great motorcycle rider,” Codie said. “I never would have gotten to the level I am not if it wasn’t for him.”
Dunne was an accomplished motorcycle rider and stuntman for television and film. Following his record-setting run in 2012, Dunne joined the Race Smart program, which had him teaching rookie riders as they first came to race up Pikes Peak.
Vahsholtz said he never stopped learning from Dunne.
“(Carlin’s death) means I will be a lot more prepared (to race) than I ever have in my life,” Vahsholtz said. “That’s the crappy part about this race.”
Vahsholtz’s father, Clint, competed on top of motorcycles as an early Hill Climb competitor before getting behind the wheel of a car. Clint also knew and respected Dunne.
“If you ever had a mentor that was Coach X, Carlin was that to Codie,” Clint said. “And Carlin was that to a lot of riders.
“I’m always concerned for Codie’s future, especially now that he has two kids under 5. But I know he’s going to do what he’s going to do. And unfortunately this kind of thing happens and nobody likes it.”
When Pikes Peak Highway became fully paved for the 2012 Hill Climb, previous best times were shattered. With increased speed, comes increased danger. Since 2014, three motorcyclists have died during Hill Climb competition or practice runs.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m in a car” Clint said. “You have a cage around you. Crashes don’t tend to lead to a memory of you.”