Race week has begun for Sunday’s 97th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Here’s a fan guide for race week (click here for the daily schedule).  

What is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb?

Also known at The Race to the Clouds, the Hill Climb takes place on a 12.42-mile section of the Pikes Peak Highway. The course begins at an elevation of 9,390 feet and climbs 4,720 feet to the summit which is 14,115 feet above sea level. The change in elevation saps internal combustion engines of 30 percent of the power they had at the start of the race. According to the PPIHC website, the race is one of the most diverse one-day motorsports events in the world, featuring cars, motorcycles, trucks and more.

The first race was in 1916. The Hill Climb course features 156 corners.

How much are tickets?

Race Day tickets are purchased online. All attendees age 10 and over need a ticket. Single tickets cost $65 before race day and $75 on the day of. Family packs begin at $110 in advance for a family of two and $360 for a family of eight the day of. A full pricing chart can be found on the PPIHC website.

Where can you watch the race?

Fans can only watch from seven designated areas along the course: Devil’s Playground, Cove Creek, Glen Cove, Ski Area, Halfway Picnic Grounds, 9 Mile and the Start Line Area.

Here’s a little info on some of the locations:

Devil’s Playground: Lightning storms are common on this area of the mountain, and this corner is regarded as the most dangerous during such weather. A sign stands on the side of the road, noting origins of the name “because of the way lightning jumps from rock to rock during a thunderstorm.”

Ski Area: The Pikes Peak Ski Area operated from 1939-1984, and it was the major skiing attraction in Colorado Springs for decades. An expansion effort in the early 1980s proved to be futile, as lack of snow and financial issues led to the resort closing in 1984. Today, the ski area is a popular place to park and watch the race.

Glen Cove: Constructed as a large log cabin, the Glen Cove Inn was a popular place for tourists to relax when they traveled to the peak on horseback. The cabin was originally settled by Frank Tweed in 1886 and he later turned the property into a station for visitors to stop on their way up the mountain. Glen Cove later became a hotel, and today it serves as a small restaurant and souvenir shop.

Cove Creek: A ditch was built off the side of the highway for runoff water. The runoff comes from Glen Cove Creek, a stream that filters into Crystal Reservoir.

Halfway Picnic Grounds: The fastest part of the course, aptly named because it is located approximately halfway between the start line and Glen Cove. In the early days of Pikes Peak, horse tours were offered up the mountain, and this was the point in which guides were instructed to tell tourists they made it halfway.

The Gazette wrote an article about these and other areas along the Pikes Peak Highway in 2016.

What time is the race?

The race begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday but racegoers want to arrive much earlier if they want a spot as parking is first come, first served.

Spectators can arrive as early as 2:30 a.m. which is recommended for the more popular sites to watch the race like Devil’s Playground. No one will be allowed past the start line after 6:30 a.m. and all those who drive past the start line must wait until at least 4 p.m. before they can go back down the mountain.

Will the race be livestreamed?

There’s no official livestream of the race but KRDO radio (1240 AM and 105.5 FM) will broadcast it.

Will there be food?

There may be food vendors, weather pending.

Spectators are encouraged to bring adequate food and especially water. Gas or propane stoves with shut off valves are permitted but not self-contained charcoal grills.

What about camping?

Camping overnight Saturday into Sunday is allowed. Campers must purchase a $150 permit in addition to race day tickets. Campers can set up at Glen Cove, Ski Area, 9 Mile and Halfway Picnic Grounds. Campers can get on the mountain starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and all those wishing to camp must be through the gateway at 6 p.m. Saturday night.

What is there to do during race week?

Most of the events leading up to the big race are practices and qualifiers. Tickets are $50 a day for June 25-28. Also, fans can purchase race day tickets from various locations in the city. The biggest pre-race event is the Fan Fest held Friday, June 28 downtown. The 10-street block party is free and open to the public and features stunts performed by the Red Bull Motorcycle Jumpers.

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