Racers get to show off “Peak”-performance at annual Hill Climb

Competitors are hoping to reach new heights of racing glory as they ramp up to participate in this weekend's annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb near Colorado Springs.

The second oldest tradition in American motorsports, right behind the Indy 500, this competition has attracted all manner of wheeled vehicle, from supercars to lawnmowers, since its inception in 1916.

This year's race is noteworthy for another reason, as drivers had to unexpectedly wait an extra month before climbing the storied peak. The delay was caused by the devastating wildfires that swept through Colorado back in July, which forced officials to postpone the event until this Sunday.

The course itself takes drivers on a 12-mile trek more than 4,000 feet up the mountain, tackling sharp turns on a track that at times is only paved with gravel.

A large number of the vehicles that make the annual trip up the mountain are classic muscle cars. Every year, the Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing (RMVR) car club sponsors a crew of drivers that take their classics to the summit. Last year, 15 cars applied to participate, 13 made it through tech inspections and 12 reached the top of the mountain.

What's especially cool about this event is its mixture of rookie competitors and racing legends. The peak has hosted such big name champions as Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and Al Rogers. However, amateurs get a chance on this mountain. Last year two of the best times for those competing with the RMVR club came from first-timers Ralf Murdock in his 1971 Camaro and Doug Mockett and Angeleca Fuentes in their 1954 Oldsmobile Mockett Rocket.

The official race date this year will be Sunday, August 12. However, Colorado Springs will be hosting the equivalent of a city-wide car show the whole weekend as it welcomes competitors, so those in the area better get out their cameras and hit the streets.