After holding out hope that the wildfires besetting the Colorado Springs area could be contained in time for the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to be run as scheduled on Sunday, July 8, series officials bowed to the inevitable late Wednesday and announced that the event has been postponed until later in the summer.
More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from the Colorado Springs area as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Only a small portion of the blaze, which is threatening the Air Force Academy, has yet been contained.
“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.
Osborne said that the iconic event – the nation's second-oldest motorsports race behind the Indianapolis 500 – will be staged later this summer, and that a new date will be set within a time frame that allows the option of rescheduling of a full race week for drivers, racers, support crews and the multitude of agencies that are required to support the race.
“This race began in 1916 and it has earned its place among the world's greatest motorsports 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.”
PPIHC officials met with officials from the Forest Service and numerous agencies tasked with the safety and support of the race this afternoon that included a wide-ranging discussion and review of the possibility of staging the race on July 8, along with the numerous ancillary events that go with the event. Those include the arrivals of the 211 race crews and competitors starting this weekend, the Technical Inspections on July 3 at the Pikes Peak International Raceway, the July 6 Fan Fest downtown, and practice and qualification times for all competitors on July 4-5-6.
“At the end of our meeting today, it was clear that we would not be able to go as scheduled,” said Osborne. “Our deepest concern is for the safety of the public and the competitors, and it was obvious that several agencies charged with public safety would not be able to commit the resources and manpower required to ensure those requirements because of the critical need for their resources at this time. Our city is in an unprecedented struggle right now and we are deeply sensitive to it.”
The race organizers will meet quickly to begin the search for the new date and it is a goal to announce the replacement date within two weeks. Tickets already purchased will be honored for the new date.
Entrants for this year's Hill Climb include six-time defending overall champion Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, who has entered a new all-electric prototype for the race to the summit of the 14,110ft. mountain.