I got a bit fired up yesterday while I was talking about the spectator zones that will be put into place for the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and I got a bit of flak for calling it “the world’s most unprofessionally run international motorsport event.” It is, full stop.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is about to host its 92nd running, and in the almost hundred years of competition, the Race to Clouds has failed to move beyond its folksy roots.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this race. It’s a great historic event, which actually gets more coverage abroad than it does in the United States. But, it has some serious growing to do from a safety, media, coverage, and promotional point-of-view.
Implementing new rules for the 2014, as to where spectators can view the race, is a huge step forward for Pikes Peak, and the following video is a great example why some modicum of professional organization needs to be brought to this race.
There are two things wrong going on here in the video (below). First, the obviously dangerous moves from the four knuckle heads who are crossing a “hot” race course, right as they hear a 1,000hp race car approaching, with a certain Sebastien Loeb going 10/10ths inside it.
The second less subtle issue is our cameraman, and the rest of his spectating buddies, who are sitting on the outside of the turn, right in the crash zone if anything should go wrong with the vehicle.
I am pretty sure you can actually see me in this video (red shirt), crouching down an embankment with my camera at road-level. I know I’m rolling the dice in this position, but I’m also pretty sure everyone else around me doesn’t have the same thought — even though I said as much to just about anyone with kids or lawn chairs who came by thinking this was a good spot to spectate as well.
All it takes to get on the mountain is some ticket-stub agreement, which says that you will not hold Pikes Peak et al accountable for your bone-head ideas.
However, it would be thorough and say less “grossly negligent” if someone at the mountain gate gave at least some pointers to spectators on the physics surrounding Newton’s First Law of Motion and how it applies to race car crashes.
For me, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb comes right after my coverage of the Isle of Man TT, two very similar races, which are run in two very different manners.
At the TT, you would never see someone cross the road when it was hot (that rule is mentioned ad nauseam throughout the fortnight), and you would be hard-pressed to find a marshal that would allow spectators to sit in such an obviously dangerous vantage point. I’m not even sure a TT marshal would let a professional, who knows the risks at hand, to be in such a vulnerable position.
So, the next time you here someone complaining about how the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is being ruined by having spectator zones, show them this video, and remind them that all it would take to shut the race down would be one of these idiots getting hit by a race car or motorcycle. Myself included.
Source: Road & Track