How Many Cars Have Driven Off Pikes Peak?

Pikes Peak, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is one of the most famous hills in the world. Standing at 14,115 feet tall, it has captured the imagination of daredevils and racers for over a century.

If you’re wondering just how many cars have made the perilous drive to the summit of Pikes Peak, read on for a deep dive into the history of the hill climb.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: over 700 cars are estimated to have reached the summit of Pikes Peak since the first automobile ascended the mountain in 1901.

The Early History of Racing on Pikes Peak

The First Automobile Makes It to the Top in 1901

The history of racing on Pikes Peak dates back to the early 1900s when the first automobile successfully made it to the top of the mountain. In 1901, a rugged and treacherous dirt road was constructed, allowing brave drivers and their vehicles to attempt the challenging ascent.

It was during this time that the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the “Race to the Clouds,” was born.

The inaugural race took place on August 10, 1916, with a total of 12 competitors vying for the title. One of the most notable participants was Rea Lentz, who drove a Romano Demon Special and became the first person to win the race, completing the course in just over 20 minutes.

Lentz’s victory marked the beginning of a long-standing tradition of automotive excellence on Pikes Peak.

Racing Takes Hold in the Early 1900s

As the 20th century progressed, racing on Pikes Peak gained popularity and attracted more participants and spectators. The challenging terrain and breathtaking scenery made it an ideal location for automotive enthusiasts to test their skills and showcase the capabilities of their vehicles.

By the 1920s, the race had become a significant event, drawing national attention and famous drivers from all over the country. One of the most notable participants during this time was Spencer Penrose, a prominent businessman and philanthropist.

Penrose, who later founded the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, was an avid racing enthusiast and played a crucial role in the development and promotion of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Throughout the early 1900s, improvements were made to the road, making it less treacherous and more accessible to participants. The introduction of paved sections and safety measures increased the speed and competitiveness of the race.

However, the challenging nature of the course remained, with its steep inclines, sharp turns, and unpredictable weather conditions.

Today, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb continues to be one of the most prestigious and challenging motorsport events in the world. It attracts top drivers and cutting-edge vehicles from various disciplines, including rally, drifting, and electric car racing.

The race’s rich history and the spirit of competition are a testament to the enduring appeal of racing on Pikes Peak.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a renowned motorsport event held annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This exhilarating race takes place on the Pikes Peak Highway, a challenging 12.42-mile road that winds its way up Pikes Peak, one of the most famous mountains in the United States.

The Race Gains Popularity Over the Decades

Since its inception in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has gained immense popularity among both racers and spectators. Over the decades, this iconic race has attracted some of the best drivers from around the world, all vying to conquer the treacherous terrain and set new records.

The race has witnessed significant growth in terms of participation and viewership. In recent years, the event has drawn large crowds, with thousands of fans lining the route to cheer on their favorite drivers.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has become a must-see motorsport event, not just for enthusiasts but also for casual fans who appreciate the thrill and excitement of high-speed racing.

Transitioning from Dirt to Paved Roads

Over the years, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has undergone various changes, including transitioning from a dirt surface to paved roads. This transition has not only improved the safety of the race but has also allowed for faster speeds and more intense competition.

Previously, the race was known for its challenging dirt surface, which required drivers to carefully navigate the twists and turns while dealing with loose gravel and unpredictable conditions. However, in recent years, the road has been fully paved, providing a smoother and more consistent surface for the drivers.

This change has led to faster lap times and a more competitive race. The paved roads have allowed drivers to push the limits of their vehicles and showcase their skills without the added challenge of an unpredictable surface.

As a result, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has become even more thrilling and captivating for both participants and spectators.

For more information about the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you can visit their official website at

The Challenge of Reaching the Summit

Driving up Pikes Peak, one of the most iconic mountains in the United States, is no easy task. With its steep slopes, sharp turns, and unpredictable weather conditions, it presents a unique challenge for drivers.

Over the years, numerous racers have attempted to conquer this mountain, but not all have been successful.

Over 150 Racers Have Crashed on the Mountain

Since the first race was held on Pikes Peak in 1916, more than 150 racers have crashed while attempting to reach the summit. The treacherous terrain, coupled with high speeds, has led to some spectacular accidents.

From cars flipping over to drivers losing control and careening off the edge, the dangers of Pikes Peak are evident.

One of the most famous crashes occurred in 1988 when a driver lost control of his vehicle and flew off a cliff. Miraculously, he survived the 200-foot fall and walked away with only minor injuries. This incident serves as a reminder of the risks involved in tackling Pikes Peak.

Despite the dangers, racers continue to be drawn to the challenge of conquering this mountain. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, held annually, attracts drivers from all over the world who are eager to test their skills and push the limits of what is possible.

Changing Weather Makes the Climb More Difficult

One of the biggest challenges that drivers face when attempting to reach the summit of Pikes Peak is the unpredictable weather. Situated in the Rocky Mountains, the mountain experiences rapid weather changes, with conditions often shifting from sunny and clear to stormy and foggy in a matter of minutes.

This ever-changing weather poses significant challenges for drivers, as visibility can be severely reduced and road conditions can become treacherous. Snow, ice, and strong winds are common obstacles that racers must contend with, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the already demanding climb.

It is essential for drivers to be well-prepared and equipped with the necessary skills and equipment to navigate these challenging conditions. Expert knowledge of the mountain, as well as a keen understanding of how weather patterns can affect the road, are crucial for a successful ascent.

While the challenges of reaching the summit of Pikes Peak are daunting, they also make the achievement all the more rewarding. The racers who have successfully conquered this mountain can truly claim to have accomplished something extraordinary.

The Continuing Legacy of Pikes Peak

Since its inception in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has captured the imagination of automotive enthusiasts around the world. Known as “The Race to the Clouds,” this iconic event takes place annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and challenges drivers to conquer the treacherous 12.42-mile course leading to the summit of Pikes Peak.

New Records Set Almost Every Year

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the consistent setting of new records. With each passing year, drivers push the limits of what is possible, striving to achieve faster times and greater feats of engineering.

From the early days of the race to the present, the record for the fastest time on the course has been broken numerous times, showcasing the incredible advancements in automotive technology.

For example, in 2018, Romain Dumas set a new overall record time of 7 minutes and 57.148 seconds, driving a Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, an electric vehicle specifically designed for the race. This remarkable achievement not only demonstrated the potential of electric vehicles but also highlighted the ongoing pursuit of excellence on Pikes Peak.

It’s not just the overall record that continues to be shattered. Each year, drivers in different vehicle classes strive to set new records for their respective categories. From motorcycles to trucks, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb attracts a diverse range of competitors, all vying for their chance at glory.

This fierce competition ensures that the legacy of Pikes Peak lives on, as new records are set and old ones are surpassed year after year.

Electric Vehicles Take On the Course

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in the types of vehicles participating in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious and technology advances, electric vehicles have begun to dominate the race.

The introduction of electric vehicles to the race has brought a new level of excitement and innovation. These vehicles, powered by clean and efficient electric motors, are capable of incredible speeds and acceleration.

Additionally, they offer unique design possibilities, as they do not require bulky internal combustion engines or fuel tanks.

Electric vehicles have not only proven themselves to be competitive on the Pikes Peak course but have also shattered records previously held by traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. This transition to electric power in motorsports is a testament to the rapid progress being made in the automotive industry, as well as a reflection of society’s growing concern for the environment.

As the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb continues to evolve, it remains a symbol of innovation, determination, and the pursuit of excellence in the world of motorsports. The race’s rich history and ongoing legacy make it a must-watch event for automotive enthusiasts and fans of thrilling competition alike.


For over 120 years, daring drivers have taken their cars to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. While over 700 are estimated to have made it, many more have crashed or turned back due to the extreme conditions.

As vehicle technology advances, the hill climb continues to capture the imagination of racers and fans alike, cementing its legacy as one of the most iconic courses in the world.

Similar Posts