90th Pikes Peak Hill Climb set for July on fully paved road

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For the first time in its nearly 90-year history, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb will be on a completely paved asphalt surface.

Veteran competitors will no longer have to adjust to the usual gravel and asphalt challenges that have been part of the race, said Mike Moran, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation senior media consultant.

City crews finished the decade-long paving project on Sept. 30 by completing the final three miles. The first six mile stretch was paved in the 1950s. The project was hurried this year in order to complete paving before winter sets in on Pikes Peak.  The city was required to pave the entire length of the highway after settling a law suit with the Sierra Club, which claimed the dirt highway was causing erosion and affecting the watershed.

Registration for the 90th Pikes Peak Hill Climb begins Nov. 1 and the deadline is June 15. Only the first 100 motorcycles and 50 autos are guaranteed entry. The race will be held July 8.

Last summer’s race 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 event brought in an estimated $1 million to the local economy.

The city’s famous 12.42-mile race up Pikes Peak attracted media from around the world and about  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 event “may go down as the most successful of them all since it began in 1916,” Moran said.

Next year could be even bigger, he said.  The paved highway could attract new and different kinds of vehicles.