Car Culture

2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb won't include motorcycles

The race's organizers have opted to suspend the motorcycle classes at America's most prestigious hill climb event after the death of rider Carlin Dunne.

Aprilia rider Rennie Scaysbrook's 2019 record will stand for at least two years now with race officials' decision to suspend the motorcycle classes for 2020.

Larry Chen/Aprilia

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is an integral part of America's motorsport history, and while motorcycles have been a regular fixture at the event for the last 29 years, the board that runs the hill climb have opted not to have a motorcycle class for the 2020 event.

This announcement, made by the advisory board for the Pikes Peak hill climb on Friday, comes soon after the untimely death of four-time PPIHC champion and Ducati rider Carline Dunne at the 97th running of the race.

This isn't the first time that motorcycles have been removed from the competition on America's Mountain, and in fact, it was Ducati that helped keep the classes going after several other high-profile accidents by creating a mentoring program where riders like Dunne instructed rookie riders how to get to the top quickly and safely.

"Motorcycles have been a part of the PPIHC for the past 29 years, and their history on America's Mountain dates back to the inaugural running in 1916," said Tom Osborne, chairman of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb board of directors, in a statement. "That said, the motorcycle program hasn't been an annual event. They have run 41 of the 97 years we've been racing on Pikes Peak. It's just time to take a hard look at every aspect of the race, including the motorcycle program, and determine whether or not the event may change."

The race to the clouds has arguably gotten significantly more dangerous since a Sierra Club lawsuit forced it to be paved earlier in the decade. The increased grip has led to dramatically increased speeds on the course, and those speeds have made consequences for riders especially more severe. 

Three of the seven deaths associated with the Pikes Peak hill climb have occurred since the course was fully paved in 2012. All of those involved racers on motorcycles: Carlin Dunne in 2019, Carl Sorensen in 2015 and Bobby Goodin in 2014. The other motorcycle death happened in 1982 after rider Bill Gross crashed and was hit by another rider.

As motorcycle fans, we can only hope that the legacy of motorcycles on Pikes Peak doesn't end on the tragic note of Carlin Dunne's death, and that race officials can devise a way to help keep riders safer and going faster than ever.

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