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Pikes Peak... fatalities?


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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 00:47

Just showing my stepson Climb Dance and he asked me a question I'm unable to answer... or at least not with any accuracy...

"Have people ever been killed there?" and the rather connected question, "Have they gone over the edge and not been killed?"

So maybe a bit of a history lesson on this pinnacle of hillclimbing would be in order?

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#2 LittleChris

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 02:36

Ray,

I seem to remember that until the last ten years Pikes Peak had actually never seen a fatal accident, but I think there may have been one in the last 5 yrs or so.

Chris

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 02:38

Actually, I thought I had read that too... but not so recently.

I vaguely recall being surprised that nobody had died there, but I've not read a contemporary report on Pikes Peak in a very, very long time. Long enough to be careful not to depend on my memory... not long enough to not harbour a desire to be there some time!

#4 LittleChris

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 02:58

I think part of the reason is that it has a relatively low average speed because there are so many hairpins and so the terminal speeds before each bend are not that high. Given the amount of hairpins, should you run off the road then there's not actually that far to drop before you hit the bit of road you were on about 15 seconds before. Wouldn't care to prove it though !! :)

#5 Buford

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 03:10

Yeah I ran there. There are corners where you could kill yourself. But most are kind of a slope, not a sheer dropoff.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 03:27

Like the drop off the esses at Bathurst are 'kind of a slope'?

And to be sure, nobody has been killed there that I can think of... but it kind of looks dangerous. I saw Tony Roberts go off there backwards in the Falcon in 1970... shot out into oblivion and we all thought he'd stop rolling when he got to Conrod Straight... but he didn't go all that far.

Wonder if there are photos of that around on the net?

#7 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 05:06

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Just showing my stepson Climb Dance and he asked me a question I'm unable to answer... or at least not with any accuracy...

"Have people ever been killed there?" and the rather connected question, "Have they gone over the edge and not been killed?"

So maybe a bit of a history lesson on this pinnacle of hillclimbing would be in order?


As LittleChris mentioned, Chandler Bruning died at Pike's Peak recently, I believe in 2001. But he went off further down, before the plummeting drop-offs, flying into some trees.

Keep in mind that the lower section features a fast straight and some climbs without exposed drops. I believe Bruning lost control at a quick part.

Let me check to see if there is an early one listed. For some reason, I think there was a very early fatality at Pike's Peak as well.

Somewhere in the late 80's or 1990, one of the top hillclimb drivers, Bob Donner, died when his open wheel class car struck a deer during another hillclimb in Colorado.

As far as going over and not...yes, several. One year in the late 1960's/early 1970's, two drivers went off during practice (I want to say one was Grier Manning). Injuries, but not too serious. One of them was quite a tumble.

And in the 90's, a Japanese driver, whose name escapes me...went tumbling wildly off one of the high drops. Fortunately it was nose over tail flipping and a rock caught the car. Other than cuts and scratches, and possibly a mild concussion and whiplash, I don't recall him suffering any other injuries.


Jim Thurman

#8 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 12:02

I checked "Tribute" and the only fatality listed for Pike's Peak was a motorcycle racer, Bill Gross, in 1982 (July 4th).

Here is a link to an item on the Chandler Bruning accident from 2001:

http://www.competiti...281nb8709nc7482

Bruning's death was also posted in the "Speeds Ultimate Price" thread.

Interesting that the article mentions another fatality. I still seem to recall a fatality in the early years of the event.

I mentioned Bobby Donner III, he died after his car struck a deer in the Teller County Hillclimb on October 7, 1989.

As far as the drivers going over that were injured, that will have to wait until I have a chance to dig through some old papers.

Also, for much of the Pike's Peak road, the drop-off is more of a slope (like pictures I've seen of Bathurst), rather than a sheer drop.

Atascadero Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval near the central California town of Atascadero, was built in a bowl like setting on a hilltop. Problem was if a car went off the back straight, it could tumble down the sloping hillside. A couple of fatalities occurred exactly due to this, neither of which found their way into "Tribute" (which is no surprise really since Atascadero Speedway received very little coverage even in regional racing papers).


Jim Thurman

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2002 - 21:48

Thanks Jim... it's a great climb, and with such a tradition, it's good to know that with so many competitors over such a long time there has been so few.

#10 Mark Beckman

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Posted 10 November 2002 - 10:16

I actually and finally have a full course "in car" (light truck actually) video of the climb and its not as scary in car as it is outside.

#11 Brun

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Posted 10 November 2002 - 11:31

Somewhere I have an interview with Michele Mouton. She told the magazine about how much she felt herself under pressure when going up Pike's Peak. Mainly because the guys there more or less thought that this was no place for a woman. She recalls being quite angry and as a result she pushed the car too much, nearly losing control in one of the bends and going over the cliff. Managed to avoid it in the last seconds, but it was a close call.

#12 Holger Merten

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Posted 10 November 2002 - 12:54

But Michele got the record in that year (1985 I think). Nevertheless, it's hard to climb the peak.

#13 cabianca

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Posted 11 November 2002 - 04:32

The Donner family has been involved with Pike's Peak since the 50s, when Bob Donner won the sports car class in a Porsche. His son, Bob, Jr. was killed at Pike's Peak when he hit a deer while driving a V-8 rear engine special. This has been well over ten years ago. I think Bob Jr's brother, David, has been highly placed in recent years.
Michael T. Lynch

#14 Jim Thurman

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 23:26

Originally posted by cabianca
The Donner family has been involved with Pike's Peak since the 50s, when Bob Donner won the sports car class in a Porsche. His son, Bob, Jr. was killed at Pike's Peak when he hit a deer while driving a V-8 rear engine special. This has been well over ten years ago. I think Bob Jr's brother, David, has been highly placed in recent years.


Donner's death has been cause of great confusion. I've seen it listed as happening at Pike's Peak, a different hillclimb on part of the same course (in the Fall) and at an entirely different hillclimb. Obviously, since Bobby Donner III died in October, at something called the Teller County Fall Hill Climb, it could not have been at the Pike's Peak hillclimb, which is traditionally around July 4th. Pike's Peak is located in Teller County, but I think there was a hillclimb at or near Cripple Creek, which is also in Teller County (but several miles South of Pike's Peak) and I seem to recall a dateline on the report of Donner's death being Cripple Creek. If that's the case, there is no way it was even the same roadway as the Pike's Peak hillclimb.

In the mid to late 80's, a series of hillclimbs were organized and run in Colorado, with sponsorship from a brewery. The series received little coverage, so I imagine other than local papers, it would be tough to turn up anything on it. I sure don't know how many they ran in a given season.

As far as the other Pike's Peak fatality...I have no idea who it was, or when (other than recalling it was in the event's early years)...or even where to look for it, though I know I've seen it listed in print.


Jim Thurman

#15 Jim Thurman

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Posted 13 November 2002 - 00:00

Ok, a quick internet search turned it up...

Wallace A Coleman died after crashing during practice for the 1921 Pike's Peak hill climb.

And, no, I don't have a date on that.

I also wanted to mention that I believe the Donner family had a lot to do with the Colorado hill climb series, and, there still is a series of climbs:

http://www.chcaracin...m/schedule.html



Jim Thurman

#16 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 November 2002 - 03:04

Originally posted by Brun
Somewhere I have an interview with Michele Mouton. She told the magazine about how much she felt herself under pressure when going up Pike's Peak. Mainly because the guys there more or less thought that this was no place for a woman. She recalls being quite angry and as a result she pushed the car too much, nearly losing control in one of the bends and going over the cliff. Managed to avoid it in the last seconds, but it was a close call.


I don't know about the other guys, it probably was mainly Bobby Unser. Bobby was a heck of a driver, but not exactly modern in his thinking about women's roles.

I believe he came out of retirement the next year simply to make sure a "girl" didn't have the outright climb record.

It galled Bobby no end that Bobby Unser Jr. was beaten by "a girl", so much so that was pretty much the end of Bobby Jr.'s career. I think Bobby Sr.'s thought would have been that if he couldn't beat "a girl", he had no business driving. He certainly seemed to make no effort to help Bobby Jr. afterwards.


Jim Thurman

#17 Michael Ferner

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 20:43



This video from the 1957 climb should dispel any thoughts about "shallow slopes", especially around the 6-minute mark - going off there in a racing car without even as much "protection" as a roll-over bar was sure to meet with disaster. So, the fatality record is even more astounding. One near-fatality not yet mentioned was the accident that ended Cotton Farmer's career in 1967.

#18 fredeuce

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 01:04

Michael,
Great piece of footage.

There is also a video that Dick Wallen put out that has some early footage from the Thirties and an interview with Louis Unser and Bobby Jr. I'm sorry to hear Michele Mouton was not viewed on her merits. She's a very capable driver.

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 01:08

I don't think there was any suggestion that all slopes were shallow...

In fact, I think this is yet another attempt by Michael to discredit Buford. This thread had not been posted to in seven and a half years.

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#20 johnny yuma

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 06:36

Bobby Unser hisself went over the edge at Blue Sky corner in practice in 1978.He was rescued by helicopter and his car repaired to run the next day Bobby at the wheel .In 1986 he used an Audi Quattro to break Michele Mouton's record.She was not the first woman to compete,the first was 1952,there were half a dozen more up to 1984. Bobby Unser's youngest daughter Jeri competed in 1998,the 12th Unser to compete ,and the first female Unser.In 1993 she held the record for Electric cars.Now that must have made" big daddy" Unser gag--a female in an electric car ,and its his own daughter ! Unless all this talk of sexist male race drivers is hyped bunkum blown up by motoring journalists (sorry ray bell)

#21 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 08:18

I must be one of the very few Brits to have gone up Pike's Peak. In 2006 I rode my motorbike across the US and back again. The day before I'd ridden up America's highest road, Mount Evans (14,260ft) and then the following day Pike's Peak (14,130ft) which is just a few miles away in Colorado. Riding up Pike's Peak was an act of lunacy on my part as the top quarter of it isn't tarmacced but gravel over a washboard surface. Riding a 600 lb motorcycle on that surface was very scary. The air was thin at the top and the bike refused to tick over. On the return journey, a man stopped all vehicles to make sure their brakes had cooled sufficiently before rejoining the tarmac road. At my walking speed, he didn't need to check me. :drunk:

#22 Hamish Robson

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 08:57

A few years ago I worked for Suzuki Sport, the boss of which was Mr Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima. One time, while on a visit to his Japanese headquarters, we had a good look at his Pikes Peak Escudo with which he has won Pikes Peak several times and (I think) holds the course record.

Much like its driver (all respect to Tajima-san), the car is a real monster...

Ignore the first ten seconds, watch this video:

http://www.carandsuv...-peak-hillclimb

#23 P.Dron

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 09:25

A few years ago I worked for Suzuki Sport, the boss of which was Mr Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima. One time, while on a visit to his Japanese headquarters, we had a good look at his Pikes Peak Escudo with which he has won Pikes Peak several times and (I think) holds the course record.

Much like its driver (all respect to Tajima-san), the car is a real monster...

Ignore the first ten seconds, watch this video:

http://www.carandsuv...-peak-hillclimb


Where in France is that hillclimb, shown after the Pike's Peak clip?

[Edit] To answer my own question, it seems to be at Gemenos in the Bouches-du-Rhone, a few miles west of Paul Ricard circuit.

Edited by P.Dron, 04 June 2010 - 11:24.