Acura’s Pikes Peak race cars show what it takes to get up a mountain fast

Acura last year launched an assault on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that included not one, but three of its NSX hybrid supercars, including one converted to all-electric power. The Honda luxury brand came away with a Time Attack 2 class victory, but this year it hopes to win even more.

Acura is once again bringing a fleet of cars to Pikes Peak, but this year the emphasis is on the TLX sedan. The Acura contingent will include two racing versions of the TLX, plus an NSX racer. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the oldest continuously-run motor sports events, and one of the most challenging. The 12.42-mile course sports 156 turns on the way up to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak.

To conquer the mountain, Acura will field a modified version of the TLX A-Spec, the sportiest version of the updated 2018 TLX. The car’s 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 is tuned to produced 500 horsepower, or 210 hp more than stock. It also has a carbon fiber front splitter, a big rear spoiler, and an interior stripped of all amenities to save weight. The TLX A-Spec will be driven by Honda engineer Nick Robinson, who scored Acura’s Time Attack 2 win last year.

While the TLX A-Spec is modified for racing, Acura’s other TLX Pikes Peak entrant is a bona fide race car. It’s the TLX GT that competed in the Pirelli World Challenge from 2014 to 2016, mixing it up with Ferraris and Porsches on North American road courses. Some modifications were made to the engine to account for the thinner air at that altitude, and the transmission and aerodynamic aids were tweaked as well. The TLX GT will be driven by Peter Cunningham (pictured above), who actually raced it in its competition heyday.

Finally, Acura is gunning for another class victory with the NSX. While an NSX won the Time Attack 2 class last year, it missed out on Time Attack 1. Acura will try again in the latter class, which allows a greater degree of modifications than Time Attack 2. For 2017, Acura fitted the NSX with a bigger front splitter and rear spoiler, lightened the car, and made some software tweaks. Like last year, the Time Attack 1 NSX will be driven by James Robinson, brother of Nick Robinson, the driver of this year’s TLX A-Spec racer.

The 2017 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb gets underway June 25. Expect a wide variety of hardcore race cars and modified production models, including the Faraday Future FF 91 electric SUV.