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BaT Video Inspiration: Rod Millen’s Unchallenged Pikes Peak Dirt Record

✓ Must meet all safety specifications
✓ No other restrictions

Those are the rules for the Unlimited Division at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This true “formula libre” is a big reason that the event continues to attract drivers from every corner of motor racing, piloting the wildest one-off machines.

This video is from 1994, when Rod Millen claimed his first overall win at Pikes Peak and conquered the full dirt course once and for all with a record time of 10:04.060. The record would stand outright until 2007, and by the time Nobuhiro Tajima bested it by a scant 2.6 seconds a third of the route had been paved.

Millen’s car was a Toyota Celica, at least nominally. Rod Millen Motorsports developed the tube-frame, carbon fiber-bodied car specifically for Pikes Peak with help from TRD and an IMSA aerodynamicist, while power came from a turbocharged 2.1-liter inline-four borrowed from Dan Gurney’s Eagle MkIII GTP racer. The result was a sub-2,000-pound car with nearly equivalent downforce, laying down an estimated 850 horsepower through all four wheels. There’s a lot to love about this car and Millen’s flawless drive up the mountain, but our favorite part is the camera mounted right down in the dirt on the front spoiler. Just wow.

The competition that year was fierce. In fact, four of the top five finishers clocked times faster than the previous overall record. A full-length video of period ESPN coverage is provided above, and it’s worth watching just to see the incredible diversity of the field—from Leonard Vahsholtz’s bucking Bronco to Nobuhiro Tajima’s crazy twin-engine Suzuki Escudo to Bobby Unser’s wings-and-wheels Chevrolet. The ’90s were an excellent decade for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

Videos from YouTube users VY A.L.M (who hosts a channel chock full of great Pikes Peak highlight reels) and yavapai RCclips & OFF-ROAD.


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