Skip to main content

Ain’t no mountain high enough: Honda reaches for Pikes Peak

Honda ARX-04b
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Rules and regulations usually constrict the variety of the cars you’ll see in most forms of motorsport, but that’s not the case with the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Held every year on the Colorado mountain that is its namesake, the “Race to the Clouds” is one of the most challenging motorsport events around. It features 156 curves over 12.42 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation. The finish line is at 14,110 feet – nearly 3 miles above sea level.

And the field of cars is almost as spectacularly varied as the course itself is treacherous. You can see everything from lightly-modified production models to purpose-built racers gunning for the top.

Honda’s recent efforts to conquer the hill are a case in point. In the last few years, the Japanese carmaker has fielded everything from a Fit EV electric car to a tuned version of its Odyssey minivan, and this year it’s entering a car designed for a completely different type of racing.

The Honda ARX-04b is an LMP2-class coupe designed for endurance racing on much flatter terrain. The car Honda plans to enter spends most of its time in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, debuting at the 24 Hours of Daytona back in January.

Going twice around the clock on a conventional road course is no easy task, but Pikes Peak presents its own challenges. A miscalculation could send the driver plummeting off a cliff, and as the car climbs higher, it makes less power because of the thinner air.

That will put a lot of strain on the ARX-04b’s 3.5-liter V6, which is derived from the engine used in numerous Honda and Acura production models.

In years past, the unpaved Pikes Peak course was dominated by custom-built buggies that often looked like a cross between a rally car and something out of Mad Max. Now, however, the course is almost entirely paved, opening the door for sports car-style racers like the Honda.

Honda calls the 2015 attempt an “exploratory effort,” ahead of a full-on assault on the overall record of 8:13.878, set by World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb in 2013. Loeb drove a Peugeot 208 T16, a custom-built machine based loosely on Peugeot’s 208 hatchback.

Will Honda be able to do better with its repurposed endurance racer? Check out the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 28 to find out.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Tesla Model 3 vs. Hyundai Ioniq 6: Which electric sedan is best?
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6.

There are finally some more electric sedan options. For years, the Tesla Model 3 was really the only good electric sedan that comes at a reasonable price -- until, Hyundai recently launched the Ioniq 6. The Ioniq 6 certainly takes some cues from the larger Ioniq 5, but is smaller and sleeker, with a design seemingly inspired by the Porsche 911.

But the Tesla Model 3 is still clearly an excellent option for those looking for an electric car, and who don't want a larger crossover. Which is better? Here's a look.
The exterior design of the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai Ioniq 6 is quite different. If you've seen a Tesla car before, then you'll immediately recognize the Model 3 -- it looks largely like a slightly different version of every other Tesla (except the Cybertruck).

Read more
Scout Motors Electric SUV: rumored price, release date, design, and more
Scout SUV Teaser

There's another electric SUV on the way, and this one comes with a familiar name. Volkswagen is reviving the classic Scout name for a new electric SUV that's billed as being an "RUV," or a rugged utility vehicle. And, it could well prove itself as the best electric SUV in its price range, when it does finally come out.

The new EV isn't due out for quite some time, but there's already a fair bit that we know about it. Curious to learn more? Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming Scout SUV.
There's very little we actually know about the Scout SUV so far, but we do know a little about the eventual design. A few teasers for the upcoming vehicle have been released, showing sketches of both the SUV and the accompanying pickup truck, along with what's presumably the front of the SUV -- though in a dark environment, with little detail.

Read more
Volkswagen ID.GTI concept is another icon reimagined as an EV
Front three quarter view of the Volkswagen ID.GTI concept.

Volkswagen reinvented one of its most iconic models with the ID.Buzz, a modern, all-electric homage to the classic Microbus. But that's not the only fan favorite vehicle currently in the automaker's catalog.

Debuting at the 2023 Munich Auto Show, the Volkswagen ID.GTI concept aims to do for the Golf GTI hot hatchback — VW's signature performance car — what the ID.Buzz did for the Microbus. VW claims a production version has already been given the green light, although it won't say when it will appear.

Read more