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All in the racecar family

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER

When was the last time you saw a racecar fly? On May 10, the Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb third-place racecar from 1981-1983 performed a more modest climb into the Colorado Springs Pioneer's Museum. There, as part of the Marketing the Mountain: Pikes Peak in the Popular Imagination exhibit, the car shall rest until 2007.

The car belonged to second generation racer Robert "Bobby" Donner III, who took first place in the 1989 Hill Climb, just months before a fatal accident in another statewide racing event. Bobby's father, Robert Donner Jr., won the Sports Car division of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1960, '61 and '62. His father, Robert Donner Sr., was instrumental in reviving the race's legacy after WWII.

Today, Bobby's brother David Donner continues the prestigious family legacy, having garnered three of his own victories atop Pikes Peak. Donner plans to compete again this July.

"I'm excited to be a part of Colorado Springs history," he says.

Donner relates changes in the sport to details like lighter-bodied cars and a move to rear engines.

"Pikes has always been a testing ground for technology," he says. "There's been a lot of evolution and adaptation."

Strangely, the race has been more popular internationally than in its own home in recent years. Competitors from Germany and Finland are expected this season, representing big-sponsor interests such as Porsche and BMW.


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