If you’re a racing fan and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. But if you need convincing, here’s a video that should change your mind, courtesy of a guy who knows a thing or two about the event: Rod Millen.
In 1994, Millen set a new record up the 12.4-mile course at the wheel of his iconic yellow Celica, back when the Pikes Peak course was entirely dirt from flag to flag. He also claimed the fastest time every year from 1996 through 1999. Toward the end of that span, Millen campaigned the Race to the Clouds in a Tacoma — the very same Tacoma he belted himself into last weekend for the 100th running of the Race to the Clouds.
The footage above comes courtesy of photographer and videographer Larry Chen, who said he was “so blown away” by Millen’s onboard that he decided to simply publish the whole run, unedited, from start to finish. No voiceover, no cuts, nothing — just the thunder of a turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder out of an Eagle IMSA GTP prototype, a vast expanse of gray below and Millen’s quick hands, for 11 minutes straight.
And Millen needed those quick hands, as you’ll be able to see at around the 2:45 mark. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but time hasn’t softened this Taco’s widowmaking ways, nor Millen’s ability to tame them. The thick-as-pea-soup fog probably didn’t help things, either.
While the Tacoma would’ve had to ascend the mountain on a mixture of surfaces back in its day, Pikes Peak has only gotten faster and in some ways more dangerous with the passage of time. The asphalt near the summit is susceptible to cracking from repetitive freezing, making for a very bumpy and unpredictable ride — something 2019 champ Robin Shute told former Jalop Matt Brown not too long ago. The mountain may change, but its thrilling danger is ever-constant.