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Colorado, 18 December 2017

A legend in pictures

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: impressions from then and now

Almost 20 kilometres uphill, 156 exhilarating corners, more than 1,400 metres of altitude difference and over 100 years of tradition: Pikes Peak is the world's most famous hill climb. Next year, Volkswagen will tackle the event with an entirely electrically powered racing vehicle as it returns to the ‘Race to the Clouds' after an absence of more than 30 years.

The Volkswagen electric race car: on 24 June 2018 it will get to the start line in Colorado, USA.


The first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb took place in 1916. A great deal has happened over the years. Join us on a brief journey back through time as we explore the history of this wild chase up to the 4,300-metre-high summit.

1926: the Yellow Devil in action

One of the most popular pre-war Pikes Peak racing vehicles was the Yellow Devil belonging to Spencer Penrose, the founder of the Pikes Peak race.

Spencer Penrose, the man behind the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The first Pikes Peak race in 1916 was organised by the entrepreneur Spencer Penrose (1865–1939). This wealthy philanthropist also financed construction of the racetrack, the Pikes Peak Highway.

1928: Glen Shultz, the hero of the 1920s

The American Glen Shultz won the Pikes Peak event an impressive eight times. He absolutely dominated hill climbs in the 1920s, the pioneer era of this legendary discipline.

1934: the rise of the Unser family

No family name is quite so intrinsically linked with the Pikes Peak Hill Climb as the Unser family. It all started with Louis Unser (1896–1979).

1965: up the mountain in an Indy car

Al Unser, the younger brother of the racing drivers Jerry and Bob Unser, won the event in 1965 in an Indy car, the Harrison Special.

1972: overall win with Volkswagen power in the rear

In 1972, Roger Mears tackled the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in a buggy powered by Volkswagen and won it right off the bat.

1985: Michèle Mouton, the full-power female

This fast Frenchwoman participated in the World Rally Championship from 1974 to 1986. In 1985, she tackled Pikes Peak in an Audi Sport quattro and clinched the overall win – très bien, Michèle!

1986: Bobby Unser and the Audi quattro

It wasn't just in the World Rally Championship that Audi was a powerhouse in the 1980s. In 1986, a year after Mouton's record-breaking drive, Bobby Unser scored another victory on the mountain for the brand – setting a new track record in his Sport quattro SL in the process.

The ‘Race to the Clouds' today

The ‘Race to the Clouds' is still a test of one's mettle to this day. Since the entire track was tarmacked in 2011, the times have got faster while the risks have been reduced.

Colorado Springs – a hub of activity once a year

The city of Colorado Springs nestled at the foot of the 4,300-metre-high Pikes Peak is where it all happens for the drivers, spectators and service staff during the race.

Plenty to see and do at the Fan Fest

A three-day Fan Fest is held in Colorado Springs during race week, featuring free entertainment and all sorts of events.

Motorsport up close

At close quarters: the visitors can come into contact with the stars of the racing scene at the Fan Fest. And if you ask nicely, you might even get to sit behind the wheel of your future dream car – even if the steering wheel is actually bigger than you.

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