In November 1806, when Zebulon Pike first laid eyes on the mountain that would later bear his name, he decided an ascent to the top was impossible. He could not have imagined that one day, people would be climbing the last 5,000 feet to the summit in ten minutes or less. But if he could see what goes on there now during the first week in July every year, he would think it was cool—as cool as the snow that lingers on this mountain until summer.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a time-honored event in which drivers and riders of various vehicles climb the last 5,000 feet of this 14,115-foot high Rocky Mountain peak along a paved road that is 12.42 miles long and contains 156 curves. The racers’ opponents are the clock and the fact that inches from the edge of the racing surface in many sections are drop-offs of hundreds of feet or stands of trees, or both
During the most recent event—the 92d running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb—an intrepid BMW driver challenged the mountain. Tim Hardy went up the hill in a 27-year-old BMW E30. What model E30? Doesn’t make much difference what it was born as; now it’s a fully prepped race car with an M52 2.8-liter turbocharged BMW inline six pumping out 480 horsepower at the rear wheels. The car’s weight with a full tank of E85 gas is 2,340 pounds. That is a seriously good power-to-weight ratio, especially for an E30 BMW.
Tim attacked the challenging and dangerous road with ferocity and brought his BMW to the top in 10:44.650, good for fifth place in the Time Attack (TA)1 class and 25th overall.
But even better, we can watch Tim’s run. Watch it, but be careful and make sure your chair’s armrests are sturdy. You may find yourself grabbing onto them really hard.—Scott Blazey
[Video, photos courtesy Tim Hardy.]