Rhys Millen set a new record of 9:46:164, just beating out Romain Dumas, who raced up the mountain in 9:46:181, which beat out last year’s record of 9:51:278 set by Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima.
Rain and slick pavement forced race officials to move the finish line from the summit of 14,100-foot Pikes Peak down to Glen Cove, where the altitude is 11,440 feet. The temperature at the summit of Pikes Peak was a chilly 38 degrees.
“To finish on the same second within two-hundredths of a second of each other with both of us dealing with rain in the last sector, I pretty much gave it in and said the smart thing to do is to push for the class win, but we pushed so hard right up to sector,” Millen said in a statement. “This is unbelievable!”
The course was slippery on the first three-quarters, he said. But, he said, he pushed his little Hyundai Genesis as hard as he could. This year, the entire road is paved, with the final sections completed after last year’s race.
The 12.42-mile paved course up Pikes Peak Highway attracted many new competitors — those with cars two inches off the ground who wouldn’t dream of racing on gravel, and those who want to test the performance of electric cars.
The Hill Climb is the second oldest auto race in the U.S., behind only the Indianapolis 500, and has always attracted big names in racing.
Tajima, running in the Electric Auto Division after six straight Unlimited titles, was forced out of the running by a fire in the cockpit of his electric entry as he began the first leg. Tajima was unhurt, and the auto was towed off the course.