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Race To The Clouds

Romain Dumas at the Pikes Peak Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs.  [Eddie LePine Photo]

Romain Dumas and Eddie LePine at the shop where they worked on the cars.  [Eddie LePine Photo]

Romain Dumas and Eddie LePine at the shop where they worked on the cars. [Eddie LePine Photo]

I went to Pikes Peak for the first time this year for a couple of reasons – it is an event that I always wanted to see and my good friend Romain Dumas was going to be driving a unlimited prototype, going for the overall victory.

Romain has done it all in motor racing. He has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a total of 3 times (twice in the GT class and once overall for Audi), he was the American Le Mans champion in 2007 and 2008 driving a Penske Porsche and this year he is one of the Porsche factory LMP drivers of the all new Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Romain got hooked on Pikes Peak last year, where he won his class and finished 2nd overall. This year he was determined to come back and take the top time.

When I arrived on Thursday I had no idea of what to expect but after making two trips up the course – which is 12.42 miles and has 156 turns – I found it breathtaking. The course tops out at 14,115 feet and after all of my years of racing  on a wide variety of circuits, this course was absolutely amazing. There is literally no margin for error – anywhere. You make a mistake on this course and you are going to be in big trouble.

Romain Dumas Honda powered car at fan fest in downtown Colorado. Dumas qualified first in the Unlimited Divsion.  [Eddie LePine Photo]

Romain Dumas Honda powered car at fan fest in downtown Colorado. Dumas qualified first in the Unlimited Divsion. [Eddie LePine Photo]

Dumas has done rally racing and said that this is like no other event he has ever done. You have to be right on from the start for you only get one shot at the mountain. His team worked around the clock to prepare their Norma chassis with Honda power for his run.

Another reason I wanted to come to Pikes Peak was that Bobby Unser (a 13 time winner of the Race to the Clouds) told me it was something that I just had to see to appreciate. He was right.

The event only draws about 9000 spectators, in part, I am sure, due to the fact that you have to get up on the mountain at like 2am before the racing starts to even get a spot to watch from. Then you are there for the duration.  However, this is a huge event in the area, as the 35,000+ spectators who were on hand in Colorado Springs for the FanFest will attest.

Romain Dumas crosses the finish line at the top of Pikes Peak.  [Photo by: Romain Dumas Rallye Team]

Romain Dumas crosses the finish line at the top of Pikes Peak. [Photo by: Romain Dumas Rallye Team]

There is quite a bit of international media coverage, with over 50% of the journalists covering the event coming from outside the US.

As far as Romain Dumas goes, it was mission accomplished. He won the Race to the Clouds overall in his Norma M20 RD in 9 minutes and 8 seconds. Now that Romain has conquered Pikes Peak and Le Mans, perhaps it is time for him to give Porsche their first victory with the new Porsche 919 Hybrid.

I wouldn’t be surprised – once Romain sets his mind to something, he gets it done.

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Eddie LePine

Eddie LePine

Eddie has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up).
Eddie LePine

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