His last record run in 2007 clocked 10 minutes, one second. Now, four years later, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima has achieved the long-coveted sub-10-minute time in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb's unlimited class. He did it in 9:51.278.
Tajima set the new record this past weekend, climbing 4,700-feet into the Colorado clouds in a 910-hp Suzuki SX4, over a combination of tarmac, gravel and dirt. There was some extra pavement on the course this year, though it didn't appear to help Tajima's rival Rhys Millen. Millen ran the 12.42-mile course — comprising 156 turns — in a Red Bull-sponsored Hyundai PM580 prototype producing 1,000-hp. His time lagged Tajima's by nearly 20 seconds, at 10:09.242.
This year also marked the final running of the traditional, dust-choked Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Locals are continuing with plans to pave the entire stretch of mountain roadway by 2012 in an effort to boost tourism. That means a move toward traditional sports cars, perhaps even an F1-based contender — and a precipitous drop in Pikes Peak run times. If that prospect makes you sad, you can always sit on the porch in your rocking chair and watch "Race to the Clouds."