That Rhys Millen screamed past the 14,000 foot mark to the top of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in less than 10 minutes is a major milestone for the nearly century-old race. But although he was driving a 700-hp Hyundai Genesis racecar, let's not forget that this is also the first year racers are driving on a fully paved course.
Millen's official time on the 12.42-mile course — which climbs 4,720 feet to a 14,110-foot pinnacle — was 9:46.164. This bests Monster Tajima's 9:51.278 from 2011.
"With the insights gained from the last few years in our Genesis Coupe, the team was able to make some high-impact improvements, leveraging additional downforce and traction opportunities provided by the new all-tarmac surface," he said in a release. "And behind the wheel, my experience at Pikes Peak over the years allowed me to shave a few tenths from virtually every corner. Breaking the ten-minute barrier is something I've always wanted to do, and it feels great to accomplish this goal in 2012."
Rhys Millen's team had recently fitted a turbocharger to the V6-powered Hyundai-ish vehicle, which Millen's father, Rod Millen, used to set the standing record. Rhys Millen nearly broke the 10-minute barrier last year, and the addition to the car of a turbo, some aerodynamic effects, and completion of road paving seem to have helped him get there, and then some.
The race was held later than normal this year due to major wildfires in the area over the summer.