Skyscraper!: A Technical Look Inside Rhys Millen’s Hyundai Genesis PM580 Pikes Peak Open Class Slate Cleaner
By Mike Kojima, Photos and video by Jeff Naeyaert
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is an American racing institution. The first running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1916 was promoted by Colorado Springs Luminary Spencer Penrose. Penrose had just finished widening a narrow carriage road into the much wider and smoother “Pikes Peak Highway” to the summit of Pikes Peak. Penrose started and promoted the “Race to the Clouds” as an attraction to encourage tourists to visit.
From the starting line at mile 7 of the Pikes Peak Highway, the course winds through 156 turns and 12.4 miles of dirt and tarmac gaining 9390 feet on a grade averaging 7%, peaking out at the 14,115 foot summit. The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is one of the toughest to drive and most dangerous motorsports events in North America.
With the nose off you can see the large splitter that is integrated into the flat floor. You can also see the ducting on the splitter for the twin oil coolers and the venturis for downforce in front of the front tires. On either corner of the windscreen, you can see the ducts leading to the side mounted coolant heat exchangers that take air from the nose’s main large air inlets.
The event is one of the most challenging for the race car designer as well. The course is made of high speed pavement combined with slippery and rough dirt sections. The air is oxygen poor and ridiculously thin near the summit. An engine will lose at least 30% of its power as it climbs and near the summit, a driver’s strength and reflexes seriously decline. Many drivers use on board oxygen systems to help deal with the altitude. The thin air also greatly limits the effectiveness of aerodynamic aids, reducing downforce.
The cars range in design from one off specials which look like a World of Outlaws Sprint Car, a WRC car and an Indy car had a kinky coupling, to WRC Rally car variants with heavily tweaked aero and engines, to things that look like prototype racers with 4WD. The rules for the Open Class are quite open except for safety requirements and the open rules mean that there is quite an interesting technical diversity of car racing, heaven for the car geek.
|The PM580 pulls to the line and gets the green flag.|
|Servo auto focus, 5 frames per second and a dork cameraman could not keep up with the uberfast PM580. For good action photos we suggest going to Motormavens.com and Speedhunters.com|
|The PM580 has a very compact cabin necessitated by space for the AWD system.|