I live in Colorado Springs and have attended and or been involved with the event for a large portion of my life. I see some comments here that I think I can help with. I add a quick reply here on what I recall from scanning this thread.
Race held on the 4th of July - The race has been held on numerous dates throughout the years including Labor Day. (May) The race hasn’t been held on the 4th of July for a very long time. When the Olympic Training Center moved to Colorado Springs there was an Olympic Festival that was held that split the local attendance and hurt the race and that was the initial reason for changing that date. I can’t imagine ever having the race in May as they did in the past as even during June/July we have seen rain/sleet and snow on the same day. In recent years the race was actually shortened to run only to Glen Cove due to Sleet/Snow on the road in the upper elevations of the course.
Asphalt: This has been increased throughout the years with a very large section after Devils Playground to the Summit being paved last year. The remaining dirt section of the course is to be paved this year. There is talk that the race could be moved to later in the year for 2012 due to this.
Speed and the Surface. Asphalt is faster but what I have not seen factored into the opinions here is the fact that the road is much narrower now with the pavement. In many places 50 -60% of the surface has been turned into the drainage control on the sides of the road. This really changes things as you cannot run the same line and straighten out the road as you could in the past. Additionally.. where the road may have been straight, there are places where the asphalt may zig zag for whatever reasons the paving company had in their mind during the paving process. If we were to count the 156 turns today we might come up with a very different number.
History of the Surface: For many years there were asphalt like surfaces that were tested on road. All were similar to a temporary road surface and would develop potholes and were always uneven. The dirt was always much smoother as well as the final version of the asphalt we have today. If you watch Tajima's record setting run on YouTube from this year you will see a section that is still like this right after the dirt that begins immediately after the Picnic Grounds and returns to pavement right before Glen Cove. This was an attempt to appease the naturalists who wanted the road paved without really paving it. It was a good effort but always produced a very poor surface.
Tires – During my lifetime there have been numerous tires used on the mountain with the changes in the surface. The Goodyear Pikes Peak Special was the standard tire for the Stock Car and Open Wheel classes and still is for the other Hill Climbs ran by the CHCA in Colorado. Firestone had a tire for the Peak in the 70’s that had ground up walnut shells in the tread. This year many of the teams ran tires that were suited for asphalt due to the dramatic increase in the pavement. Cars were much slower than usual on the dirt for this reason. We are now at a point where the majority of us that will miss the dirt are ready for them to complete the job so that everyone can get on with a tire choice that will support the surface.
4WD – It is my belief that when the surface is paved the advantage of 4WD will be greatly diminished. We all know that there is added weight with the additional driveline. It also takes more power. The car that I worked on in the past is what I believe a very capable platform for future events. I found this photo on the web at the following link. (That’s me behind the wing)http://www.subiegal......id donner.jpg
Note Jimmy Olsen in the background with a 4WD Wells Coyote Open Wheel car sporting 4 of those Pikes Peak Specials I mentioned. Yet another formula.
A more recent photo in the final configuration of the Donner Dykstra before the car was crashed at Goodwood. http://www.flickr.co...loir/196798943/
The tunnels on this car do not share the same space with the wheel opening as they do on Monsters Suzuki and therefore it has much better ground effects. Additionally it was always designed as a ground effects car and did not have them added later as Paul’s car has.
One more thing that you might not be aware of as it has been forgotten by many. The Open Wheel record is still at 10:05. This was set many years ago by Robby Unser. (The Guy who beat Ari on the Peak when they were both in Peugeot 405’s)
A photo of that car can be seen here. http://www.vintagera...o...&magiid=250
I understand that this car was rebuilt from a Wells car with very little remaining that resembled the original car. There were iterations of the wings that had side plates so large that they were problematic in the wind on the upper portions of the course above tree line. Hole saws were used to cut large diameter circles in them to bleed the air and not allow it to upset the car. Robby always said that he thought a 2WD car could take back the overall record but the weather never cooperated with him to prove that point. A 10:05 against Millen’s Toyota Tacoma 4wd record of 10:04 was very close.
The race ran very long on Sunday. Bobby Regester’s crash was as bad as they get and resembles Koichi Horiuchi’s from years past for sheer terror points.
Oil cleanup is now an issue and there was a delay in the event while clean up occurred in Boulder Park.
Dallenbach never started the race. I am not sure exactly what happened but I would bet it was related to the engine. Many were disappointed for that team.
Rhys Millen lost his brakes near the top and a great deal of time. Last year the springs were too stiff and the tires too hard so he never had the opportunity to thrash the Hyundai like he did this year.
The Dacia Duster was very promising. A 10:17 after a rapid 5 month build to get it here and the drivers first time on the mountain mean that there will much more expected from them next year.
Tajima’s drive was very clean this year. It shows in his time. Weather or a quick dip into the ditch prevented his success previously. Hats off to this man for his perseverance.
RS200s have never done fantastic on the Peak. They have always had issues. Stig was the last on here in an RS200 and lost his brakes on the way up. This is one of my favorite cars and I think that we have never seen the full potential.
We have seen many Group B era cars and a very many specials throughout the years that are not seen in many other places in the world if at all. I cannot tell you just how fortunate I feel about that. There are no words for it.