Pikes Peak, for the uninitiated, is an annual hill climb up a public road in Colorado that scales the side of a mountain. Starting way back in 1916, the course is a snaking 12.42-mile, 4,720-foot ascent through 156 corners and into the clouds to the chequered flag at a queasy 14,000ft. Now, after a string of accidents, the race organisers have banned all motorbike classes for 2020.
The PPIHC Board of Directors has issued a statement and concluded that the 2020 race “will not include a motorcycle program while analysis for long-term viability is conducted.”
The history of motorcycle racing on Pikes Peak traces as far back as the very inception of the race in 1916; a chap named Floyd Clymer became the bloke to do it on two wheels, while the road was still under construction. However, since the tragic fatality of Carlin Dunne - who died in a crash as he approached the finish line on race day on a Ducati Streetfighter V4 Prototype - at this year’s race, the future of two-wheeled race at the event has been brought into review. What does this mean for the future?
Tom Osborne, chairman of the board of directors, said: “It’s just time to take a hard look at every aspect of the race, including the motorcycle program, and determine whether or not the event may change.” That means having officials “gather data and analytics to review more thoroughly the impact on the overall event in the absence of this program”. A decision on the way forward will be made in late 2020.
It’s not the first time Pikes Peak has had to change its ways. The race was somewhat neutered in 2012 when glossy, smooth black tarmac was slopped over the traditional and challenging dirt road. This changed everything. It brought a heavier reliance on mechanical grip, and things got quicker.
Could this mean that other forms of sketchy two (and four-wheeled) racing will be banned? What’s next to be smothered? The Isle of Man TT? The Nurburgring 24hours?