The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is the second oldest motorsports race in America (only the Indy 500 is older), a long-standing tradition in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region, and is the world’s highest-altitude auto race. An annual event since 1916, 2011 marks the 89th running of the “Race to the Clouds.”
The PPIHC is a dangerous sprint run of 12.42 miles that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the mountain’s 14,110-foot summit’s and is a grueling test on both man and machine. As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thinner air slows the reflexes and saps the muscle strength. That same thin air also robs engines of 30% of their power at the summit. Both the competitor and vehicle need to be in top shape simply to finish… let alone win.
Banks teamed up with Dallenbach Racing to take on the annual the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Driver Paul Dallenbach had set records on the mountain before and was aiming to be the first person to beat the 10-minute mark in the Unlimited class. Banks added extra firepower to the aerodynamic racer with a Twin-Turbo system, raising the engine’s power output from 745 hp & 650 lb-ft to an amazing 1,400 hp & 1,301 lb-ft. The engine improvements utilize Banks’ altitude compensation technology that they developed originally for the US military.
The electronic engine management is set-up to deliver constant air density to the intake manifold from the start of the run to the peak of the mountain where the air is much thinner. To compensate for the thinning air as the racecourse climbs the mountain the turbo speed increases to feed the engine with the same density as at lower altitudes. Driver and car were recorded as having the fastest times in the Unlimited class during testing, but a half shaft breaking upon the actual race’s launch would keep the car out of the competition.