Aside from this weekend’s European Grand Prix, two other major motorsport events are taking place this weekend: the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
These two events could not occur at more spectacular venues. The tortuous Nürburgring Nordschleife is well-known by all who have an understanding of the history of Formula 1, but perhaps fewer will be aware of the existence of Pikes Peak, which is among the most famous rally hill climb events in the world.
Take a look at this incredible 1989 film, Cllimb Dance, produced by Peugeot and starring one-time FIA Presidential candidate – and consummate rally star – Ari Vatanen, as the Finn hauls a Peugeot 405 T16 rally-spec car up the 19.99-kilometre route.
Also known as ‘The Race to the Clouds’, the route charts some 156 turns over a 1,439-metre climb in altitude to a staggering 2,682 metres above sea level. The route is tortuous and incredibly dangerous, with the circuit lined by trees and sheer cliff drops.
Sanctioned by the FIA, the event has been an annual fixture since 1916 and is currently contested by a variety of classes of cars, trucks, motorcycles and quads.
The event has been by such motorsport luminaries as Mario Andretti, and the three Unsers (Al, Bobby and Robby).
This year’s event will be the last to be held with its dirt sections of the course, as the Colorado Springs venue is being forced – courtesy of one of those pesky lawsuits that the Americans are so famous for – to pave the entire route to the summit.
When you look at venues like Pikes Peak and the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it certainly makes you wonder what on earth Formula 1 is doing racing in such dumps as the Valencia street circuit.
Hermann Tilke and Formula 1’s greater authorities should be ashamed.