Porsche Motorsport recently ran a one-make event for Cayman GT4 Clubsport models at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Eight invitation-only places were handed out to various celebrity drivers and Porsche customers to compete on the 12.4-mile hillclimb course up the side of America’s 53rd tallest mountain.
First run more than 100 years ago in 1916 as the Penrose Trophy, Pikes Peak is one of motorsport’s best-known time trial events. The 4,700-ft ascent with 156 turns was a well-kept secret amongst US racers until 1984, when the first European teams arrived. Michèle Mouton with the Audi Quattro blitzed the all-gravel course, setting a new record in 1985.
The promotional value of Mouton’s Quattro on full boost in the Rockies surrounded by endless blue sky was not lost on Audi’s World Rally Championship competitors. Peugeot soon entered the contest and the French brought unprecedented attention to the hillclimb in 1989 with the release of ‘Climb Dance’: a film by Jean-Louis Morey following Ari Vatanen’s attempt on the course in 1988.
Manufacturers have been pilgrims ever since, using the event as a marketing metaphor for man and machine overcoming nature’s most extreme obstacles. The succulent irony here is that the mountain takes its name from explorer, Zebulon Pike, who failed to make the summit and the whole course was tarmac’d in 2011. But of course the hillclimb is an amazing event and no small achievement to take part.
The eight entrants of the 2018 GT4 trophy race included legendary mentalist, Travis Pastrana (above), who I worked with as part of the Race4Change effort on the 2011 Safari Classic Rally. Driving a Porsche for half the Safari, co-driven by Fabrizia Pons (who had co-driven Michèle at Pikes Peak), Travis was excellent fun and pretty quick, too: complaining that he needed a sixth gear on the long flat-out straights. The car soaked up some serious punishment over the three days that Travis was driving and was somewhat reluctant to go much further at speed when Pastrana jumped out after three days.
Other drivers in the Cayman group included IMSA Porsche regulars, Mike Skeen and Till Bechtolscheimer, former baseball player turned Porsche dealer principal, CJ Wilson, and Indycar driver, JR Hildebrand. Eight-time Pikes Peak class winner and Porsche fanatic, Jeff Zwart, was brought in as a consultant to advise the drivers on what not to do, but Pikes Peak left its mark on Skeen and gentleman driver, Nick Kwan, both of whom experienced unplanned high-speed contact with the scenery through the weekend.
To cover the event and derive some cool content, Porsche Motorsport North America partnered with Porsche Design, Yokohama and Mobil 1. Mobil 1’s Youtube channel, The Grid, recently released a nice video feature on the event – watch it below. Click through to Mobil 1 The Grid on Youtube to subscribe to this Porsche-friendly channel. The pics in this piece are from the Yokohama Tyres Facebook page. All good stuff.