Pikes Peak, ‘Race to the Clouds, 100 years in the making’

In last month’s Famous Last Words, I wrote of Fords Transit Van inspired Ford SuperVan 4.2 taking on the infamous 2023 Pikes Peak race. Designed specifically for hill climbing, the all-electric van had large front and rear spoilers, a revised 3-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain with a total power output of 1,500 kW (2040 hp), an upgraded 600 kW regenerative braking system, a rebuilt frame, weight reduction, and a new high-performance Li-Po NCM battery. 

Basically, SuperVan 4.2 was a rocket ship with the aerodynamics of a box, but it won the 2023 Open Division with a time of 8:47.682, which was 30 seconds clear of the second-place getter in the category. However, it was just 7 seconds behind the overall winner, coming second to Robin Shute in a 2018 Wolf TSC-FS purpose built, open wheel race car.

The SuperVan 4.2 is just one of the many thousands of stories that have emanated from one of the toughest and most dangerous car races in the world, the Pikes Peak Race to the Clouds in Colorado, US. First run in 1916, in the early days the surface was a combination of gravel and sealed sections, however it’s now asphalt from start to finish and the fastest time up the mountain was set in 2018 when French driver Romain Dumas driving a specially built all electric Volkswagen I.D. R, recorded a time of 7 minutes 57.148 seconds, which still stands today.

As you can imagine, the history of the ‘Pikes Peak Race to the Clouds’ is immense and if you’re interested there is a great documentary which is available through Amazon Prime.

From the first race, an upset victory by Rea Lentz while driving a homemade car, to Sebastien Loeb’s record smashing run in 2013, “Race to the Clouds ™ 100 Years in the Making” is a 90-minute documentary film capturing the history of America’s second oldest auto race … The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The greatest challenge in motorsports for both man and machine, founded in 1916 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Spencer Penrose, has grown into an international event attracting the best drivers and riders from around the world.

‘Race to the Clouds, 100 Years in the Making’ – Official Trailer

For more information on the event, go to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb webpage.