CASCADE, Colo. (AP) - The 82nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will have a much different feel this weekend: More asphalt has been
put down on the 12.4 mile course up the Pikes Peak Highway, part of a federal plan to control erosion on the mountain.
Asphalt now covers the first 2 miles of the course through the Halfway Picnic Grounds, the fastest part of the course where racer hit speeds over 120
miles per hour.
The asphalt is part of a 10-year plan that began in 2002.
Robby Unser, son of Indy 500 Champion Bobby Unser, is returning for the first time since 1997 and doesn't believe the pavement will make the track
It will present a challenge for pit crews preparing the cars. "You've got to set it up for both parts, paved and dirt,'' Unser said.
He does, however, think the addition of pavement could make the course more difficult to drive. "With the pavement, it's much twistier,'' Unser said.
"You can't cut corners the way we used to on dirt.''
Unser will drive a 2003 Subaru Impreza in the open division. He is an eight-time division champion, and his 1994 time of 10 minutes, 5.85 seconds is
the third fastest time ever clocked in the race.
For the third year, the Sports Car Club of America's ProRally drivers return, and will compete in four stages.
The second stage, which starts at 3:45 a.m. Friday, will be run solely on asphalt from the Toll Gate to the Halfway Picnic Grounds. The fourth and
final stage will run the length of the course to the 14,110-foot summit on Saturday.
Defending overall champion Paul Dallenbach of Basalt, Colo., returns in the Open Wheel Division to defend his title. Clint Vahsholtz of Woodland Park,
Colo., will try for his ninth consecutive title in the Super Stock Car Division.