Thursday, June 28, 2012

Global warming & epic fires delays Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The 90th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was due to run on July 8, and feature several electric cars racing to the top.  However global warming has caused a massive heat wave, dry conditions, and a massive fire in the mountains near Colorado Springs.  Because Pikes Peak is in the mountains near Colorado Springs, the "epic conditions and safety concerns related to the wildfires threatening Colorado Springs and nearby communities" have forced a "postponement" of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb event until "later in the summer."

Clearly the delay is a disappointment to Electric Racing Fans, because this year the PPIHC was to see 8 electric cars in competition.

I read a report on CNN a little bit ago that all the hotel rooms in Colorado Springs are booked solid with refugees from the fire, and that hundreds of homes have burned in the area.  The map of the fire shows it is located just across the highway from Pikes Peak.

These conditions clearly make it impractical to hold the Pikes Peak Hill Climb at this time. “We have been informed by the U.S. Forest Service that conditions are so extreme, along with the inability to forecast the future of the fire, and with access to Pikes Peak in jeopardy that the agency can’t permit the event to go as scheduled, “said Tom Osborne, Chairman of the Board of the PPIHC and President & CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

Osborne goes on to vow that “The 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be run,” and that a new race week will be chosen to be compatible with the drivers, racers, pit crews, and multiple agencies which must coordinate so the PPIHC can be held, later this summer.

The race is the second-oldest motor sports race, behind the Indianapolis 500. “This race began in 1916 and it has earned its place among the world’s greatest motor sports events, and it is an important part of the sports heritage of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region,” said Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach. “We are committed to making sure it takes place this year and that we carry on the tradition. We are disappointed, but our first concern is our city, its residents, their homes, businesses and public safety.”

The 211 race crews and competitors were due to begin arriving in Colorado Springs this weekend.  Obviously an influx of people into an area already stressed by an emergency fire condition would not have been good.

Tickets already purchased will be honored for the new date and the events for the fans and competitors will be rescheduled. All sponsor, vendor and supplier agreements will be fulfilled, according to Osborne.

P.S. In case of negative reaction to the claim that "global warming" is causing this delay - okay, yes, it's difficult to pin a specific event on global warming, I know that.  However, on the Climate Progress blog yesterday, Joe Romm noted that "Record-setting heat waves, wildfires, and deluges" are exactly what climate scientists have predicted for decades.  There is extreme heat in the midwest, which leads to dry conditions, more likely to cause fires, and if one steps back far enough the fire near Pikes Peak is part of a larger pattern of weather this year which looks like global warming in action.   See

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