The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is one of the most iconic and challenging races in the world. The 12.42-mile course climbs 4,720 feet to the summit of Pikes Peak, testing the limits of both man and machine. The race consists of 156 turns, narrow switchbacks, and treacherous drops, making it one of the most demanding challenges any driver can face.
Despite the difficulty, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb draws thousands of fans from around the world who come to cheer on their favorite drivers and soak up the atmosphere. There’s an energy at the race that’s hard to describe – a mix of excitement, adrenaline and camaraderie. The fans are as passionate as they come, camping overnight in the freezing-cold mountain temperatures to cheer everyone to the top.
Back in early 2023, during the off-season, I knew I wanted to race the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for a second year in a row, but I was unsure about what car to compete in. Honestly, the winter months are stressful for many drivers, as it’s the time of year that we’re trying to figure out what we will drive in the coming season.
One day during my winter break, I was contemplating what to do. While sitting in my childhood home and watching the snow fall, I got a call that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Acura wanted me to drive for them in at the 2023 Pikes Peak Hill Climb!
They wanted to make their very popular anime series called Chiaki’s Journey, created and produced by Acura, come to life. And they wanted me to be the real-life Chiaki! Of course, I immediately said yes. From that day on I had one job to do: Make it to the top of Pikes Peak, successfully and very quickly.
Preparations for the Hill Climb began immediately, and I now had the honor of racing and helping develop the new Acura Integra Type S for the first time ever, and let me tell you, I did not take that job lightly. I was so proud to be representing Acura and HPD Racing.
As you may know, I come from a long line of racing legends, including my grandfather, Jerry, and my great uncles, Bobby and Al, who are all in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Hall of Fame. I was grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to continue the Unser family legacy, and in my first ever, factory-supported race.
I knew I had big shoes to fill.
The entire month of June became dedicated to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and it all went on without a hitch. The only battles we had were with mother nature, when the final round of qualifying was delayed by fog.
In the end, I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. The car performed flawlessly and so did my team of engineers at HPD. I’m very proud of what I accomplished and I’m ready to compete at the Pikes Peak Hill climb for many more years to come.
To all the fans who came out to support me and all the other drivers at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this year, thank you. You made this a race to remember.
I also want to thank my amazing sponsors: Yokohama Tire, Mobil 1, Hagerty and Speedway Motors. Their support and expertise were instrumental in helping me perform at my best and achieve my goals. I couldn’t have done it without them and am grateful for their ongoing commitment to my racing journey.
I’m looking to break records on the mountain in years to come, with the ultimate hope of becoming the second-ever Queen of the Mountain. Until then, keep shifting up!