The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a mainstay in American automotive culture. Since the first car chased the clouds in 1916, countless others have risked their lives in pursuit of new records and automotive performance. And now we have a new documentary to tell us exactly what it’s like.
MotorTrend’s Pikes Peak: On the Edge is available to anyone with a MotorTrend On Demand account, and it is fantastic. It’s divided into three parts for easy viewing, and each part captures the story of a different part of the 2020 Pikes Peak event as told through the lens of six different drivers—some of whom are hardened veterans and some of whom are hitting the pavement for the first time.
The documentary is made by TangentVector, the same company that brought us APEX: The Story of the Hypercar and which is composed in part of Jalopnik alum Matt Hardigree.
I’ll be totally honest—it was only relatively recently that I understood the value of Pikes Peak. I knew it meant something, yes, but I didn’t fully grasp what until I started researching it for my own documentary purposes. And then suddenly it clicked: this is essentially the Le Mans of hill climbs. It’s been a place to test out new equipment—and your resolve—for over a century, and we’re still designing cars that take on the challenge in a different way. And it was this best-kept invitation-only American secret until Michele Mouton set a new record in 1984.
In the first part of Pikes Peak: On the Edge, we’re introduced to the different drivers that will be contesting this year’s event. In the second, we follow the 3am test session that’s responsible for countless crashes each year. In the last, we watch each driver take a shot at setting a new record climbing the mountain—one is successful, and another just barely makes it.
I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s definitely worth your time. All three parts total clock in around an hour and a half, so the bite-size chunks of episodes are easy to enjoy if you can wrestle the remote away from the rest of the family this holiday season.