1963 Ford Falcon Sprint 1970 Porsche 914 1968 Ford Mustang EV West 1995 BMW E36 M3 2011 Scion tC 2012 Toyota Motorsports TMG EVP002 2012 Porsche 911 GT3R 1958 Lister Knoop/Mann Special 2010 Scion xD 2011 Scion tC 1967 Porsche 911 1967 Ford Mustang Lexus IS F CCS-R Concept 1967 Porsche 911 Targa 1970 Chevrolet Camaro 1966 Porsche 911 1965 Ford Mustang 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint 1949 Cadillac 62 Coupe 1967 Ford Mustang 1971 Plymouth Cuda 1968 Ford Mustang Porsche 996 911 Turbo Porsche 996 911 Turbo 2012 Chevrolet Impala Stock Car 2002 Ford Mustang 2002 Ford Mustang 1991 Acura NSX 1991 Acura NSX 2011 Summit Her-02 2011 Summit Her-02 2009 Skelta G-Force Shelby Cobra 2003 Factory Five Challenge Racer 2012 HCE Lightning XP12 EV West 1995 BMW E36 M3 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 2012 Toyota Motorsports TMG EVP002 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution 2008 Freightliner Cascadia 2012 Porsche 911 GT3R 2012 Porsche 911 GT3R 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2002 Ford Mustang 1991 Acura NSX 2011 Summit Her-02 2012 Toyota Motorsports TMG EVP002 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 1965 Ford Mustang 1958 Lister Knoop/Mann Special 1970 Chevrolet Camaro 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint 1966 Porsche 911 Porsche 996 911 Turbo Porsche 996 911 Turbo 2011 Summit Her-02 2011 Summit Her-02 2008 Ford Mustang GT 2009 Skelta G-Force 1991 Acura NSX 2003 Factory Five Challenge Racer Shelby Cobra 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV EV West 1995 BMW E36 M3 2012 Chevrolet Impala Stock Car 2012 Chevrolet Impala Stock Car 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special 2012 Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
2012 marks a special year for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. For the first time in the event's 96-year history, the entire course is paved, beginning a new era in the Race to the Clouds. While many are bemoaning the loss of the gravel and dirt (us included – the dirt was great for photography), the fresh pavement is bringing plenty of new faces and cars to the event. Interest in this year's hill climb was so great that organizers are contemplating expanding the event to two days for 2013.

Much of the new vehicles for this year are in the Electric division. Normally filled with one or two entrants, this class features some of the most interesting cars this year, including two Mitsubishi iMiEVs, a prototype from Toyota Motorsports GmbH and a BMW E36 M3 converted by EV West. The biggest news, however, is that reigning Unlimited Class champion Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima has swapped out his Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special for an all-new machine called the Monster Sport E-Runner. Our curiosity about this incredible looking vehicle was so great that we skipped out on our usual subjects from the Unlimited and Time Attack divisions to see the new electric racer in action along with the Pikes Peak Open, Stock Car, Exhibition and Vintage classes.

2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The Japanese driver didn't disappoint, setting blistering times of 4:14.8 and 4:13.3 in the two practice sessions. To compare, Tajima set times of 4:45.9 and 4:33.8 last year, albeit those were partially on dirt.

Unfortunately, another driver in the Electric division didn't fare so well. Hiroshi Masuoka, driving the Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution, overshot a corner and crashed in the second practice session.

Also of note is the Porsche 911 GT3R being driven by Frenchman Romain Dumas in the Pikes Peak Open division, the Lexus IS F CCS-R being driven by Ken Gushi and a mean looking Lister Knoop/Mann Special being driven by Rick Knoop in the Exhibition class.

You can see our photos from the first practice day of the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb in the gallery above. Check back tomorrow to see our coverage of what's new in the Unlimited and Time Attack classes.


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