Electric Action At The Peak

A battle between two former Kings of the Mountain in the suddenly-loaded Electric Auto Division will highlight the 91st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 30.

The showdown in the Electric division will feature a pair of veteran drivers who have a combined scoreboard of 17 wins on America’s Mountain, New Zealander Rod Millen and Japan’s Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima.

Tajima, who will turn 63 two days before the race, will be again driving his Tajima Motors E-Runner, which was forced out of the race last year when Tajima developed a small fire aboard the electric vehicle.

The Japanese driver, a fixture in the event, has won the Unlimited division eight times, and was the first driver to crack the ten-minute mark when he clocked a 9:51.278 in winning the title in 2011. It was his sixth straight win in the Unlimited field.

Millen, 61, will be making his debut in the Electric division, driving the Toyota TMG EV P002 that won last year’s Electric title when it was piloted by Japan’s Fumio Nutahara.

Nutahara (Hokkaido Japan) will be back himself in an effort to defend his Electric title, but does not yet know which race car he will be driving. He established the all-time record in the Electric division last year with his time of 10:15.380 in a 2012 Toyota Motorsport vehicle.

Rod Millen has won nine titles on Pikes Peak, including five Unlimited crowns, the 2011 Time Attack 2WD crown, and other triumphs dating back to 1989 in Pikes Peak Open, Pikes Peak Production, and High Performance Showroom Stock divisions. Of those, only the Pikes Peak Open division is still on the card.

The loaded Electric field also includes the 2010 and 2011 champion, Japan’s Ikuo Hanawa, who will be behind the wheel of a Summit HER-02 vehicle.

Eleven new records were set last year at the second-oldest motor sports event in the USA behind the Indy 500, the first edition contested on the fully-paved 12.42 mile course with 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes on the summit at 14,110 feet, where the air is rare.

The event’s growing international prestige is again evident this year with entries from France, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Belgium.