Hill Climb breaks sponsors, merchandise ticket records

This year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb sold more tickets, more merchandise and had more sponsors than in years past, setting new records for the 89-year-old Colorado Springs event.

The city’s famous 12.42-mile race up Pikes Peak attracted media from around the world and an estimated 6,000 fans lined the windy road with its 156 turns for a chance to see the 10-minute record time broken by Nobuhir “Monster” Tajima in the Unlimited Division.

The June 26 multi-division car, truck and motorcycle race to the top of Pikes Peak — the second most-visited mountain in the world – brought in an excess of $1 million to the local economy.

The event “may go down as the most successful of them all since it began in 1916,” said Mike Moran, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation senior media consultant.

Just three years ago the race was at risk of going broke, Moran said. This year race the Hill Climb renewed its partnership with Race Central for promotion and news across the television, radio and web for 2011. Race Central TV, radio and webcasts are the production of Motorsports Media Group.

And the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation pumped up the marketing for the event.

Ticket sales revenue set an all-time record of $148,461, breaking last year’s high of $115,380 while merchandise sales reached $25,779, surpassing last year’s $15,721.

The race headquarters hotel, the Crowne Plaza, booked 416 rooms for the race, compared to last year’s 272 rooms.

“These important results show why the race is now on solid ground and poised for a wide-open future as the entire course is fully paved in time for the 2012 edition next summer,” Moran said.

There were plenty of attractions this year including actor Paul Walker, star of “Fast and Furious,” who drove the official pace car and the return of legendary driver Rod Millen, who last raced in the Hill Climb in 1999.

“It was a perfect storm for us,” Moran said.

Next year could be even bigger, he said. The entire length of the road is expected to be paved, which could attract new vehicles and maybe a television deal.

“We’ve got a huge upside that we are exploring now for next year’s race,” Moran said.