Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima has had an action-packed 62 years of life. He has been a hillclimb and rally racer, a rally team manager, and a tuning shop owner. But he is best known for his 2011 Pikes Peak run where he shattered a world record, and the 10-minute barrier, in his own Monster Sport Suzuki SX4. In 1983, Tajima started Monster Sport International as a motorsports tuning shop. Later in 1986, he inked a deal that made Monster Sport the tuner for Suzuki. Raw tuning force, tinkering, and experimenting lead to Tajima's success in the sport, and that ethos carried through this year when he showed up to the Pikes Peak event with an EV.

The Monster Sport E-Runner is an all carbon fiber hill tackling machine supported by an all-aluminum space frame. Two liquid cooled motors mounted in the rear are powered by a 650v MLiX lithium-ion battery. Tajima says that he is confident that the technology used on the E-Runner will one day make it way into the civilian sector.

  • Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
  • Image Credit: AUTOBLOG
  • Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
  • Image Credit: AUTOBLOG
  • Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
  • Image Credit: AUTOBLOG
  • Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
  • Image Credit: AUTOBLOG
  • Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special
  • Image Credit: AUTOBLOG


Switching to an all-electric racer was a risk that clearly didn't pay off for Tajima this year, but there are many rational reasons an EV can be successful at Pikes Peak. For EVs, engineers have the ability to place batteries in any location to help with weight distribution and handling. Further, the electric motor's high levels of immediately available torque are great for pushing up a steep grade, which at the top of over 14,000 feet has relatively low oxygen content--an advantage over gas engines. Finally, EVs are great for Pikes Peak because of the relatively short amount of time it takes to get up the hill. (Range anxiety does not apply here.)

However, there are still risks. And although Tajima has won 6 years in a row, his E-Runner failed to grab him a seventh victory. The E-Runner started to catch fire as we saw in our episode and lead Tajima to exit the race with a DNF. While we hoped that new technology could make a dent in this race series like hybrid prototypes did at Le Mans, we're certain Tajima will return to race another day.


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