News Racing

Pikes Peak Hill Climb Discontinues Motorcycle Competition

The decision follows the 2019 fatal crash of four-time champion Carlin Dunne and ends an event that has challenged motorcycle racers since 1916

August 19, 2021

By Kali Kotoski

Motorcycle competition at the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is no more, following a recent decision by the organization’s Board of the Directors after it concluded a two-year study prompted by the fatal crash of four-time champion Carlin Dunne in 2019.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has long been regarded as one of the most difficult and dangerous motorcycle competitions on the planet, with riders making a 4,720-foot climb up a serpentine and treacherous road on America’s Mountain in Colorado Springs.

Since 1916, motorcyclists have climbed the mountain road, which is hugged by precipitous drops and few guard rails, making the margin for error almost non-existent.

While the decision didn’t cite Dunne’s death as a factor, the 2019 race was the last time motorcycles took to the annual Race to the Clouds, as the event was postponed in 2020.

The organization said that the two years of research involved in the study also included extensive deliberation and thoughtful consideration and advice from the motorsports industry.

“Motorcycle competition has been part of the history of the race off-and-on since 1916, and has been both thrilling and tragic for competitors and fans alike,” explained Fred Veitch, interim chairman of the board. “This has been a long process and a difficult decision, but we believe it is the right decision and one that is in the best interest of the organization at this time.”

When Dunne crashed his modified Ducati in 2019, he was on the path to winning the competition and was expected to set a new course record. But on his final run of the event he hit a rough section on the road and was ejected from the course on the final corner of the race, with witnesses saying that a bump caused his front wheel to lose traction.

Reporters driving up the track the next day confirmed that the track surface near the summit was extremely bumpy — and even poorly maintained — in certain spots.

His death at 36 stunned the racing community. Since the race began in 1916, the hill climb has claimed seven lives, with four of them being motorcycle racers.