The Colorado wildfires burning all around Colorado Springs forced planners to postpone Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
“We have been informed by the U.S. Forest Service that conditions are so extreme, along with the inability to forecast the future of the fire, and with access to Pikes Peak in jeopardy that the agency can’t permit the event to go as scheduled,” said Tom Osborne, Chairman of the Board of the PPIHC and President & CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation in a press release.
On Wednesday, the Waldo Canyon wildfire suddenly switched directions, heading back toward Colorado Springs, the city which hosts the event. More than 34,500 people had to evacuate and hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the wildfire.
The postponed race will be the 90th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, making it the second-oldest race in America, behind the Indianapolis 500. Along with the race to the top, there are a number of other events that go along with the event. These include technical inspections of the Pikes Peak International Raceway, practice and qualification runs, and Fan Fest, the pre-race celebration held in downtown Colorado Springs.
All told, there were 211 race crews and competitors scheduled for this year’s event. According to press releases, the worldwide media interest in this year’s race had reached record levels. It was set to be the largest fan turnout yet.
“At the end of our meeting today, it was clear that we would not be able to go as scheduled,” said Osborne. “Our deepest concern is for the safety of the public and the competitors, and it was obvious that several agencies charged with public safety would not be able to commit the resources and manpower required to ensure those requirements because of the critical need for their resources at this time. Our city is in an unprecedented struggle right now and we are deeply sensitive to it.”
But the race organizers have not given up on this year’s hill climb.
“The 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be run,” Osborne said in the release.
Yesterday afternoon, organizers met with the Colorado Forest Service and numerous agencies tasked with the safety and support of the race to discuss a new date for the event. While that date has not yet been agreed upon, the committee should have a new date very soon.
“The race organizers will meet quickly to begin the search for the new date and it is a goal to announce the replacement date within two weeks,” according to the release.
“Tickets already purchased will be honored for the new date and the events for the fans and competitors will be rescheduled. All sponsor, vendor and supplier agreements will be fulfilled,” according to Osborne.
The Waldo Canyon Wildfire
The Waldo Canyon wildfire started on June 23, and has consumed 18,500 acres of forest land around Colorado Springs. Officials estimate that some 300 homes, all within the city limits of Colorado Springs, have been destroyed in the wildfire. Officials say 20,085 homes and 160 commercial buildings remain in the wildfire’s path. So far the Waldo Canyon wildfire has cost an estimated $3.2 million.
More than 1,200 firefighters are working on the Waldo Canyon wildfire. They hope to get some of it contained today (Thursday) as there is a 30 percent chance of rain, some humidity, and less wind.