For race drivers, filmmakers and automotive engineers alike, the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak inspires both awe and vision.
Race drivers of every stripe have been drawn to the Peak since the very dawn of internal combustion competition. Dirt-track veterans, Indy car dynasties, road racers and rally drivers all have submitted to the challenge of racing to the clouds. It is man and machine facing off against the formidable trilogy of Mother Nature, Sir Isaac Newton and a persistently ticking stopwatch.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb represents 12.42 miles of tarmac and soil, connected by 156 consecutive turns. Determination, skill and the ability to precisely control a hurtling race vehicle through four small contact patches - over a variety of surfaces and dynamic atmospheric conditions - are among driver requisites. The absence of guardrails mandates courage, as there is no "do-over" for miscalculation and veering off course.
Victory in class, or overall, garners entry into an exclusive club of motorsports all-stars.
For filmmakers the Pikes Peak hill climb represents the opportunity to capture the magnitude, the majesty and the moment - from multiple angles - and share it with a much broader audience. Stringing together footage from the paddock, the starting line and the ascent - from in-car, fender, rollcage and roof mounts, stationary spots optimally positioned along the climb and helicopter perspectives - allows a director to tell a compelling story of triumph over adversity.
For automotive engineers Pikes Peak represents the apogee of "racing improves the breed" opportunity. A class victory or top-tier finish will bring international laurels of recognition to a brand and, more importantly, give that nameplate "street cred" among automotive cognoscente everywhere.
Fiesta's Peak Debut
Ford has launched an aggressive campaign to help ensure the upcoming new Fiesta will be embraced by North American drivers when it arrives next year. To whet the enthusiasm of race fans, Ford took an 800-horsepower, rallycross-prepped Fiesta to the legendary Race to the Clouds on July 19, 2009. Noted international rally driver Marcus Grönholm and his navigator, Timo Alanne, finished second overall - a respectable showing for first-time entrants in a brand-new vehicle. In addition, Grönholm earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Recognizing the vision Pikes Peak inspires in filmmakers gave Ford a chance to tell the Fiesta story, while paying homage to Jean-Louis Mowrey's award-winning 1990 Pikes Peak film Climb Dance. For the film, director Mowrey and hiscinematographers followed veteran international rallyist Ari Vatenen in a choreographed assault on the mountain. Garnering a mantel full of trophies in juried international film competition when released, the short film classic has become a YouTube phenomenon.
Australian producer/director Tim Vincent and cameraman/editor Scott Richardson were there to film the Fiesta in the 2009 race. Peak Performance follows the Fiesta to the summit, capturing images from on-car, in-car, helicopter and stationary cameras.
"Our objective with Peak Performance was to relive the drama and majesty of the original Climb Dance," said Vincent. "The lighter weight and improved quality of today's filming equipment gave us freedom in mounting positions and camera angles."
In a tick over nine riveting minutes, filmmakers Vincent and Richardson were able to capture Grönholm and Alanne as they skillfully maneuver and navigate the Fiesta up the mountain. Accelerating, left-foot braking and counter-steering the modified hatchback from tree-lined tarmac to the summit convergence of dirt and sky, Grönholm deftly demonstrates that the climb dance can be reprised.
With more than a quarter-million YouTube viewings - and counting - the Fiesta assault on Pikes Peak has indeed reached a broader audience. In collaboration with Motor Trend, its video editors have released a pair of behind-the-scenes glimpses at how the Peak Performance film came together.
"Our hope is that Peak Performance viewers come away with three lasting impressions," said Vincent. "A keen appreciation of Fiesta performance, Grönholm's