2024 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Live Stream, History & Preview

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Image: Alan Stark on Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution via the CA-SA 2.0 license
Perhaps the most famous hill climb racing event in the world is set to kick off: The 2024 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is set to take place for the 102nd time on June 23 - here's how to watch, some history and a small preview.

Race week for the 2024 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is here: 61 entries will attempt to tackle the infamous namesake mountain in Colorado as quickly as possible, and with some outrageous machinery. The event is known for its Unlimited class, which allows for some incredible machinery to be built to chase after the record time, a 7:57.148 set by Romain Dumas in a Volkswagen I.D. R in 2017.

Pikes Peak has a rich history to look back on. In fact, the event was first run in 1916, only having been paused from 1917 to 1919 and 1942 to 1945 due to both World Wars. Today, the event is still open to both cars and motorcycles, and has become a proving ground for engineers. Not only is the record time held by an electric vehicle, but the first event by a non-gasoline (or petrol, if you will) vehicle was won in 1971 already, as Ak Miller took a propane-powered Ford Mustang to victory.

In recent years, standout cars included the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak in which WRC icon Sébastien Loeb won in 2013, the Suzuki SX4, XL7 and Escudo that powered Nobuhiro Tajima to six straight wins from 2006 to 2011, and Dumas' aforementioned Volkswagen I.D. R.

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The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb route including the run up to the start line. Image: Maxxl2 via Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb History​

The namesake Pikes Peak is part of the Rocky Mountains. At its tallest point, it is 14,115 feet (4.302,31 meters) high, and the finish line for the hill climb is officially just five feet below this. The course starts at 9,160 feet (2,791.97 meters) and winds its way up the mountain, meaning competitors have to conquer an enormous climb along the 12.42-mile (20-kilometer) course. The start line is located between the Crystal Creek and South Catamount Reservoirs, close to the towns of Green Mountain Falls.

Initially, the route was a carriage road, but the narrow way up the mountain was widened in 1915 and called Pikes Peak Highway from then on. Just a year later, the first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb took place, won by Rea Lentz. World War I meant the race would only resume in 1919, but one of the biggest racing dynasties in America was soon established in Colorado - namely that of the Unser family.

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Al Unser Sr.'s 1961 Unser Special. Image: Dick Thompson via Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The Unsers Reign Supreme​

Louis Unser would win the event nine times in total, with victories coming both before and after World War II. Unser scored his final win in 1953, and is even considered the oldest IndyCar driver to ever compete, as the event was part of the USAC-sanctioned IndyCar/Champ Car championship at the time. When Unser started the 1965 edition, he was 69 years, 3 months and 19 days old.

His winning days being over did not mean that the Unser family had to go without a Pikes Peak winner for long, though: Bobby Unser, Louis' nephew, took his first win in 1956 already and was the driver to beat at Pikes Peak, taking every single victory from 1958 to 1963. More victories followed, his final one even in 1986 in an Audi Sport Quattro SL, meaning 'Uncle Bobby', as he was known, stood victorious a total of ten times.

His younger brother Al Unser Sr. won two times, and Al Unser Jr. followed this up with a win of his own in 1983. The final Unser to win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb to date is Bobby's son Robby unser, who won the event four times between 1989 and 2004.

Other well-known racers to win the event include rally aces Walter Röhrl (1987), Ari Vatanen (1991) and Michèle Mouton (1985), as well as IndyCar legends Rick Mears (1976) and Mario Andretti (1969).

Gravel Gets Phased Out​

The course itself did not see many changes during this time. An all-gravel affair for most of its existence, the Pikes Peak Highway was slowly started to be paved from 2002 onwards, as surrounding landscape and water quality was increasingly suffering from the dirt and gravel eroding from the road. Slowly, the course turned into a mostly-tarmac run, with gravel being part of the event for the the final time in 2011.


Since then, the overall winner's time has never exceeded 10 minutes anymore, the only exception being Robin Shute's run in 2022. The Brit has won all editions of the hill climb since 2021, having taken his debut win in 2019.

Reigning Champion Shute Will Not Compete​

However, Shute will not add to his win tally in 2024, as he was set to run a Hyundai Ioniq 5 N in the Exhibition class. However, he will not appear at all, having decided not to compete "for personal reasons", according to a press release by Bryan Herta Autosport. Shute had already driven the car for the team during testing for the event, for which Randy Probst will take his spot.

As usual, the Unlimited division will attract most of the attention come race day. The class features some of the most outrageous race cars in the world, with enormous wings, even more enormous power, and little weight to speak of. Usually, the overall winner is from the Unlimited division, although no former winners are entered in it for 2024.

The entry list does hold some familiar names, however. Current Hyundai WRC pilot Dani Sordo will be running another Ioniq 5 N, and two-time Le Mans winner Dumas will compete in an electric Ford F150 Lightning Super Truck in the Pikes Peak Open division. Meanwhile, Loni Unser carries on her family's tradition behind the wheel of a 2015 Porsche GT3 Turbo Cup in the same division. IndyCar fans will recognize Katherine Legge in the Time Attack 1 division, where she will be driving an Acura Integra.


2024 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Live Stream​

The 2024 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb crown could be hotly contested, then. But how to watch the event? Luckily, this could hardly be any easier - instead of navigating your way through a long list of national broadcasters, paywalls or subscriptions, the solution is easy: YouTube.

The entire event will have its official live stream on the Mobil1 YouTube Channel, where you can also find the previous three editions to re-watch to get in the mood for the weekend. As soon as the 2024 stream is listed there, we will embed it for you below. The event is set to start at 13:30 UTC on Sunday, June 23.

Meanwhile, we shall keep our eyes peeled for any news around Gran Turismo 7 maybe finally adding the track - a few signs seem to point that way, at least.

Are you looking forward to the 2024 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

I grew up in Chipita Park, CO. My parent's property bordered Pikes Peak. I spent all the years of my childhood and most of my adulthood (until they paved it) on the mountain every day during race week. Hence my love of simracing :)
If anyone reading this ever gets the chance to attend, I HIGHLY recommend going for the pre-race practice sessions that run the week before the race. Way less crowded and you get the see every car go by like 4x instead of just once.
Looking forward to the race, but it just hasn't been as interesting to me since they paved the entire course.
 
Great topic. Is there possibility to simdrive old Pikes Peak with Ari's Peugeot 405 like in that Climb Dance video?
 
YES ! Once again awesome spoiling in a motorsports thread does not say SPOLIER.

Come looking for a link and get Bill Collins instead.
 

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