Waldo Fire puts Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on hold

Tom Osborne

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is postponed because of the Waldo Canyon fire and ongoing safety concerns in the area of Pikes Peak Highway.

The 90th run of the famous auto and motorcycle race, which was scheduled for July 8, will be revived later in the summer, race officials said. They expect to set a new date within the next two weeks.

“We have been informed by the U.S. Forest Service that conditions are so extreme, along with the inability to forecast the future of the fire, and with access to Pikes Peak in jeopardy that the agency can’t permit the event to go as scheduled, “said Tom Osborne, Hill Climb chairman of the board and president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

Race organizers have already begun to notify the 211 competitors and the 300 news reporters from the U.S. and from 15 nations. The event draws about 6,000 spectators and has a multi-million economic impact on the city.

Tickets already purchased will be honored for the new date and the events for the fans and competitors will be rescheduled. All sponsor, vendor and supplier agreements will be fulfilled, according to Osborne.

Wildfires broke out Saturday in the area just northeast of Pikes Peak Highway, which was closed to traffic and tourists Monday.

Race officials immediately met with the U.S. Forest Service, the city and county officials to discuss whether the event would go on.

The Hill Climb was started in 1916 by Spencer Penrose as a way to advertise the opening of Pikes Peak Highway. In these years since it has only been canceled during World War I and World War II.

The race is second-oldest motor sports race behind the Indianapolis 500. It will be scheduled for later this summer and organizers are hopeful they can also reschedule Race Week for drivers, racers, support crews and fans.

“The 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be run,” Osborne said.

Mayor Steve Bach called the race an important part of the sports heritage of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region in a prepared statement released Wednesday.

“We are committed to making sure it takes place this year and that we carry on the tradition,” he said. “We are disappointed, but our first concern is our city, its residents, their homes, businesses and public safety.”

Osborne said safety was the biggest concern with trying to push forward with the July 8 race schedule. “… It was obvious that several agencies charged with public safety would not be able to commit the resources and manpower required to ensure those requirements because of the critical need for their resources at this time,” he said. “Our city is in an unprecedented struggle right now and we are deeply sensitive to it.”