THROWBACK THURSDAY. Bobby Unser, an 11-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb winner, comes out of retirement for another shot at PPIHC gold in 1986 with the Audi Quattro E2.
“I used to dream, when I was ten years old, of winning Pikes Peak. Of becoming the so called King of the Hill. And then when Michèle Moutan came up in 1985, I saw things that just astounded me. And I started doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking, a lot of studying trying to find the best way to get the record back in the Unser name.”
Bobby Unser: member of America’s legendary racing family, one of only ten drivers to win the Indy 500 more than three times, and one of only two drivers to win said event across three decades. And the driver he’s referring to in this video from 1986? Michèle Moutan, possibly one of the greatest female racing drivers in history, runner-up in the 1982 World Rally Championship in an Audi Quattro E2, and the first female Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1984 and 1985. It pretty much guaranteed her slot in the history books.
Having said that, Moutan’s run inadvertently sent out a challenge for one B Unser. Having realised his dream in 1955 and won his first Pikes Peak race one year later, Bobby Unser would go on to take 11 PPIHC crowns and 14 PPIHC category victories, setting a record time that stood for more than a decade in 1968. The American was, no question, a heavy fan favourite on America’s second oldest motor race.
Fast forward to 1986. Moutan has just bazooka-ed Al Unser Jr’s 1983 PPIHC course record by nearly 13 seconds with a 11m 25.390s run in the Audi Quattro. Bobby Unser, suitably amazed by Moutan’s turn of speed, is nevertheless keen to bring the Pikes Peak record back to the family, even going as far as to come out of retirement for one last stab at the gold, 12 years after his last race to the clouds.
Could he do it? Could the three-time Indy 500 winner – at 52 years old – reclaim the PPIHC record for the Unser family against Michèle Moutan’s phenomenal benchmark? His answer lay with the icon that is the all-wheel drive Audi Quattro E2. Time for the people’s King of the Mountain to take one more shot…