Quick Guide To Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

By John Beltz Snyder

June 01, 2011

The Nissan Leaf will make its motorsports debut later this month at the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs on June 26. It will be competing in the Electric division (a new and relatively small division). With the evolution of the PPIHC taking place before our very eyes, we thought it a good opportunity to review the various divisions that will be competing this year.

Open Wheel: Whether its dune buggies or Indy style cars, Open Wheel is one of the faster divisions at Pikes Peak, and has been a part of the competition every year since it’s inception in 1916. The current record for this division is 10:05.85, set by Robby Unser in 1994.

Pikes Peak Open: These cars and truck keep a lot of their stock looks, but have undergone major modifications to their engines, transmissions, and suspension. 2010’s best time was 11:34.0 by Dave Carapetyan in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Super Stock Car: About what you’d expect; tube-frame stock cars are modified for speed, with last year’s times being about on par with Pikes Peak Open division. The engines may be moved backward a few inches.

Unlimited: This division features a lot of cars built specifically for this race. Any kind of car can compete in this very fast division, so long as they pass safety inspection. Nobuhiro Tajima holds the record for Pikes Peak, at 10:01:408 in his Suzuki SX4. Nobody has broken the ten-minute barrier yet. Will this be the year?

A catchall for cars that don’t fit into the other divisions.

Time Attack:
Production-based cars divided into two classes: two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive. Last year, Jeff Swartz set a 2WD class record of 11:31:095 in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Electric: Like it sounds, this is a division for electric cars. As of this writing, only two competitors are scheduled to race in Electric this year, one of which is the Nissan Leaf we mentioned earlier.

Vintage Race Cars: Splint into Vintage Race Cars and Vintage Modified Race Cars, this is the division where you’ll see classics from the 50s, 60s, and 70s competing against one another.

There will also be motorcycles competing in their own divisions, including 250cc Pro, 450cc, 450cc Supermoto, 750cc Pro, 1250cc pro, Vintage, and Sidecar (that last one is not to be missed, as watching the passenger crawl around for stability in the corners is exciting to behold).

This year will see Quad 450cc and Quad Modified divisions competing in the hill climb.

Exhibition Powersport:
This division features electric motorcycles (well, one electric motorcycle for 2011), Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs), and quads with engines 750cc or larger.

For more information about the Nissan Leaf’s entry into PPIHC, read the press release, below.

06.01.2011 , FRANKLIN, Tenn.

On June 26, a 100 percent electric Nissan LEAF will compete in the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord behind the wheel. The Nissan LEAF will compete in the Production Class for electric vehicles and, other than the removal of some interior parts like seats and carpets to make room for safety equipment, such as a roll cage, racing seats and safety harnesses, the LEAF will be very close to the way it left the factory.

Like every production Nissan LEAF, the Pikes Peak LEAF will be powered by a lithium-ion battery composed of 48 compact modules and a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. However, unlike most of the other vehicles competing at Pikes Peak, the LEAF will have no tailpipe, no emission of greenhouse gases and will make the climb in near silence.

“This is another innovative way to showcase the fun-to-drive nature of the Nissan LEAF and highlight that 100 percent electric vehicles perform very well in demanding situations like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb,” said Ron Stukenberg, senior manager, Marketing Communications, Motorsports. “The instant torque available from the electric motor makes the LEAF a fun car to drive and the abundance of corners on the hill climb will give Chad a chance to take advantage of that torque.”

The Pikes Peak Hill Climb will be the motorsports competition debut for the Nissan LEAF, but Nissan recently showcased the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC at the New York Auto Show. The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC is designed and constructed as a real racing machine, starting with its full carbon fiber monocoque bodywork. The three-piece bodywork includes removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and taillights and driver-adjustable rear wing. The powertrain is straight from a production LEAF and repackaged to provide a mid-ship placement for the motor, inverter and battery pack as well as rear wheel drive.

The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will likely make a series demonstration runs later this summer at various motorsports venues around the world.

“Nissan is committed to taking an innovative approach to showcasing the Nissan LEAF and Pikes Peak is an excellent venue to do just that,” added Stukenberg. “Nissan LEAF owners are fully embracing this new world of zero-emission technology. We believe the same potential exists in the motorsports world, and we’re proud to be one of the first on the grid.”

About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010 and has been recognized as a 2010 and 2011 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information about Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.Infiniti.com.

About Nissan
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second largest Japanese automotive company by volume, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan and is an integral pillar of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 150,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4 million vehicles in 2010.

With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades including the prestigious 2011 European Car of the Year award.

For more information on our products, services and commitment to Sustainable Mobility, visit our website at http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/.

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