This just in: Race organizers say there will be no more motorcycle categories allowed at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, from 2022-onwards.
It’s a very disappointing announcement, but it is no surprise. Already, motorcycles were banned from competition in 2020 and 2021, as part of a two-year study to measure the impact of motorcycles’ removal from the races.
The official statement on the Pikes Peak website reads:
After two years of research, deliberation, thoughtful consideration and advice from colleagues in the motorsports industry, the Board of the Directors of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has made the decision to discontinue motorcycle competition as part of the annual Race to the Clouds.
“Motorcycle competition has been part of the history of the race off-and-on since 1916, and has been both thrilling and tragic for competitors and fans alike,” explained Fred Veitch, Interim Chairman of the Board. “This has been a long process and a difficult decision, but we believe it is the right decision and one that is in the best interest of the organization at this time.”
The reality is, after Carlin Dunne’s fatal crash at the race in 2019, the future of motorcycles at the races was pretty much over. The race itself has never been exactly motorcycle-friendly, particularly in the years when part or all of the course was unpaved. Race organizers usually had weird rules in place, to keep superbikes out of competition, but those rules became less sensible as adventure bikes/naked bikes gained massive horsepower boosts in recent years.
Still, it’s sad to see the race ban motorcycles; bikes had a long history at Pikes Peak, starting with Floyd Clymer’s first-ever run to the top in 1916, combined with two race wins that year. Pikes Peak was always a niche event, but it appeared to be gaining popularity with the street circuit racing crowd in recent years, with Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin both signing up for the race (Dunlop had to withdraw, due to injury). Pikes Peak was particularly-suited to electric motorcycles, which do not suffer from differences in air density over the 4,720-foot change in elevation. The early 2010s saw some exciting scraps between battery bike manufacturers as a result, battling it out with heavily-supported bikes with gasoline engines.
That’s all over now … unless race organizers change their mind down the road.