America’s second-oldest motorsports institution, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb announced on Thursday that it would not run on its scheduled June 28th date, and instead postpone two months to August 30th. While I applaud the organizer’s optimism that the 98th running of the race will continue on, I doubt whether it will be possible to hold such an event even in August.
“With a full recognition and understanding related to the current Coronavirus situation, our Board of Directors has decided to postpone the Race to the Clouds until August 30,” said PPIHC Chairman of the Board Tom Osborne. “As all Americans understand in these challenging times, there are numerous factors that may influence the decision to postpone, cancel, or reschedule major sports events, domestically and internationally – including the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The safety of our competitors, fans, volunteers and partners is our major concern as we move forward.”
If the statement had mentioned a desire to continue the race without the tens of thousands of attendees that pack themselves onto the mountain every year, I might have believed it would be possible to continue the race in August. If they were to use the spectator parking lots and hospitality tents as a way to spread out the competitors in parc ferme, it might work. If they came up with a plan to separate the cars and drivers at the top of the mountain it might work.
As it stands, the plan for August still includes the 30,000 strong Friday Fan Fest, which will surely be untenable.
“Our Pikes Peak International Hill Climb family is important to us, and we believe this is the best option today. We feel confident that race teams, competitors and their crews, along with our loyal fans will support this change. We know this race is iconic and tremendously important to the auto racing world and our community, but the safety and health of everyone involved is our top priority,” said Megan Leatham, Executive Director.
As the Monaco Grand Prix has already done, PPIHC should consider cancelling the climb to the clouds this year and host the 98th running once this whole virus situation has eased up. Call it summer 2021, if the health community can fast track a vaccine. Maybe.
Pikes Peak is perhaps the greatest motorsport event I have ever attended, as it still rewards a level of ingenuity that other series have eschewed. The racers and their cars are as interesting as ever, and somehow keep getting faster. I truly hope that the coronavirus pandemic is downgraded to a mere annoyance by August, and that the race can be held as otherwise normal, but I have thus far not seen anything that would allow me to be optimistic about this being the case.
I’ll see you on the mountain in 2021, folks. This year it just isn’t going to happen.