The Art Of Pikes Peak: Here’s To 100 More Years

Pikes Peak is such a visual place, so I wanted to do something different with my ‘Art Of’ story this year. We’ve already covered Rhys Millen’s quest to get into the eight-minute club, but for today’s post I figured it would be a good idea to let the photos tell their own story, with a few captions added here and there as needed.

I’ve chosen 100 of my favorite photos to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and am going to open this up to any questions on how I obtained each image. I know what you guys are already wondering – how did I trigger the flash in the lead image? Well, the answer is, I didn’t. I was shooting from around 12,500ft, and the distance from me to the flash was probably around 3000ft. Someone down below was shooting with a 500watt strobe triggered with a remote tether; I noticed this, so I tried my best to shoot as his flash was going off, hoping to catch it, even though it was very unlikely. Keep in mind these cars were going full speed; I caught it about four times. For two of the shots the timing was off a little bit and the subject was out of the flash. One of the images was published in the latest story on Rhys’ event, but it was later in the day, therefore the flash did not have as much of an effect. The shot I used for the header image here was seriously pure luck, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Enjoy the photos…

Without a doubt, the Evasive Motorsports’ 86 had my favorite livery on the mountain this year.


Plus, I could tell when it was coming; there’s no boxer motor now, instead a very powerful 2JZ.


I love this so much; the fact that someone brought along an Audi Quattro and pushed it pretty hard up the Peak makes me so happy. It reminded me of PPIHC’s dirt days…

The look on the faces of the Evasive team as they found out their car did not make it to the summit.


I love the color on this guy’s rollcage. It makes for such a photogenic interior.


The new Acura NSX was very quick on the mountain, and it sounded amazing.


The famous W’s. Gee, I wonder why they call it that?…

It was far more warmer on the Peak this year than expected; I was wearing a t-shirt most of the time, even near the summit during practice days.

If you couldn’t already tell, this is my favorite spot to shoot from on the mountain. From this vantage point you can see about a third of the race course.


Mike Ryan is always a showman in his insane drifting Freightliner, but the 2016 event was not kind to him. First he had a run that nearly went to the top when the race got red flagged. Then, after he restarted his run, he lost his brakes and crashed pretty badly at Engineer’s Corner.

This year I had the privilege of following the antics of the Hot Rod magazine crew in their attempt to take the Time Attack 2 class win with their Dodge Viper. Unfortunately, they came in 2nd place after the NSX. You can read about it in detail in their next issue.


I cover so much motorsport that I am fairly desensitized to incidents on the track. This was my fifth year covering Pikes Peak, but going into it I had yet to see an accident on the mountain.


Because the race course is so long, the chance of seeing a crash is slim, but this one that I caught seemed particularly bad from the outside looking in.


I watched as the former IndyCar accelerated down a long straight into this corner, then locked up all four tires and hit the guardrail very hard. Thanks to the rollcage design, the driver was able to walk away with his head still on his shoulders.


In fact, the first thing that we heard after the initial impact was a large string of profanities, which at least let us know that he was okay.


As funny as that sounds, we were still a bit shaken up. This man walked away with his life from an incident that could have easily taken it.

The driver will live on to climb the Peak another day, and myself and the other photographers who witnessed the crash will sleep well knowing so.

Not tire smoke, more like smoke from the engine. I’m not sure if they had a chance to fix the issue.


Oh you know, just turbo bits lying around on the road…

I was pleasantly surprised by how quick this car was, and also really impressed with its braking abilities.

Without a doubt, the best sounding machine at this year’s hill climb.

Sunrise at 12,700ft.


The view of the Glen Cove toll booths from Devil’s Playground. Notice the tree line is about 700ft below.


It was such an awesome treat to see the first car to win Pikes Peak go part way up the mountain.

Sometimes the race cars going down the hill make for just as cool of an image as when they’re heading up.

The legendary Rod Millen.

I hope you guys have enjoyed my selection of images. I am going to try to do more of these image dumps; I’m shooting so much every week, that it’s really hard for me to keep up with publishing articles.


With that said, I will try to keep everyone on Speedhunters much more updated with what I am shooting. Thanks for your support as always!

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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Awesome photos man! I never made it up Pikes Peak but, I did do Mt Evans.


Excellent, Larry. Really enjoyed it!


Inspiring as always Larry!


is that all you've got?? i could do that.....
haha of course i'm kidding. mad effort Larry. keep it up.


Great pictures as always! 

No pictures of that one screaming Toyota Starlet?


Ive waited all summer for these shots. Larry Chen You have out done your self. One day i will make it to the mountain on race day.


Vittorio Jano I never ran when I was shoot for some reason. I loved that car.


Dam scary looking accident.  roll car for the win!


This is an absolute triumph, Larry. I've never seen so many consistently good shots in a single set from Speedhunters before, you've really outdone yourself. The words are a right treat to boot, too.


What sort of gear do you use.. obviously different shots require different lenses etc.. but was just wondering if you had a 'go to' set up that gets used more than the rest.


The camaro picture after the w gee are absolute amazing, thank you larry




The best eye-gasm I have in a while! Superb!

Gianluca FairladyZ

Mr Larry Chen, good work!


The First picture is great, by I can't help thinking that a speedlight being fired towards a driver is going to be distracting if not dangerous?

I've accidentally discharged my flash near my face before, and vision is impaired for some time after, hardly useful when you're going full throttle!


Elonexx If you can believe it, most drivers don't even notice. They are so focused on the line.

Plus it's actually not as much light as a flash going off right next to your face.


e_alex Thanks for the support.


@Cameron I don't really have a 'go to' setup, but due to the nature of this mountain, I physically can't carry that much gear while hiking at altitude. So I only carried three lenses in an effort to save weight. 400mm, 135mm and 35mm.


it is pretty crazy how much pike peak has change in just the past five years. It has gone from a crazy rally cars to insane time attack cars. With the addition of the paved road it is nice to see that there are less crashes.


Larry Chen Elonexx

I suppose they're probably used to it!
That's true Ahah


You're a wizard I swear. But you're posts always make me want to shoot more Motorsports which is good.


Larry Chen Any reason for only using primes? Obviously ones like the 400 f2.8 are an insane lens.. but why not something like a 70-200 2.8 for closer in stuff. I would have though that would much more versatile than the 135mm.. Or is it more a case of sacrificing the zoom range and using the fastest glass you can?


@Cameron It's the best of both worlds. The weight issue is honestly a big factor, plus the extra f/2.0 versus f/2.8 comes in handy in the early morning hours.

Also with a track that big I can pretty much get the entire focal range of a 70-200 with my 135mm, I just walk forward or backward, if that makes sense.


So many pretty pictures to look at... 

Good job (as usual!!)!


Just checked. Still can't find the "Download all in Hi-Res" button. :/

Again Larry, above and beyond the call of duty with your photos. Just beautiful.


My great grandfather built the Yellow Devil - so great to see it restored and up the mountain again.  He convinced Harry Penrose to convert a Pierce Arrow into a racecar.  He drove it 8 or 9 years.  Best was a 4th place finish.....   Thanks for a great photo of it on the course!!


Oops.  Typing TOO fast!  Spencer Penrose, Harry McMillin was my great grandfather's name.....


My great grandfather (Harry McMillin) built the Yellow Devil - so great to see it restored and up the mountain again.  He convinced Spencer Penrose to convert a Pierce Arrow into a racecar.  He drove it 8 or 9 years.  Best was a 4th place finish.....   Thanks for a great photo of it on the course!!


We are working on it. Sorry.


D1RGE  Click the image, it will take you to Presentation Mode where you can download the hi-res image.


Cuvinisme D1RGE I know that bro, but it's a hundred desktop-worthy pictures. Gets old.


Nice image dump Larry Chen, keep it up!


D1RGE Cuvinisme  Oh, I see what you are looking for. I'll add that to our suggestion list. Thanks!


You're said that the Silver Viper got beaten by an NSX.
The white NSX with TA2 written on it's side, right?


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