It’s a Pick-Up Jim, But Not As We Know It

5 July 1999

Part One – The Race For The Clouds

You against the clock, racing to the summit of a 14,100 ft. mountain on a twisting, dirt covered road. In a 900 bhp Pick-up!

This is the essence of Toyota’s challenge in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the so-called “Race to the Clouds”. The 4th of July was the 77th anniversary running of what is one of America’s most cherished motor sport events. It is a challenge that holds an irresistible allure for Rod Millen and his unique Toyota Pick-up.

Millen’s Toyota Pick-up marries carbon fibre bodywork to a 2.1 litre, four-cylinder, turbohcarged engine that pushes out up to 900 bhp via all four wheels. At the rear, the only loads this pick-up carries are aerodynamic, the huge wing clawing at the ever thinning air as the altitude increases.

Pikes Peak is in Colorado and the road up it is closed for just one day each year for the race. For each of the three practice days a different section of the road is closed, meaning the first time the competitors get to drive it all is when the clock is running. No trial runs, no second chances.

The road is 12.42 miles long and the surface is loose dirt. There are 156 corners that offer only a long drop if you run wide as it rises to the summit at 14,100 ft. That’s more than three times the height of Ben Nevis and only a little short of half the height of Everest. Only the Americans could call this mountain a hill.

On Sunday, Rod Millen and his very special Toyota pick-up won the Race to the Clouds. It was his fifth victory in six years, but his aim was to be the first man to stop the clocks at less than ten minutes. He missed by just 11 seconds, which means that the elusive ten-minute barrier remains. Waiting. Teasing. Next time, maybe.


GENERAL Body Type: Toyota Tacoma Pick-up Truck
Drive System: Four-Wheel Drive
ENGINE Type: 4 Cylinder, Twin Cam, 4 Valves per cylinder,
fuel injected, turbocharged
Displacement: 2.1 Litre
Power: Up to 900 bhp
DRIVETRAIN Transmission: 5-speed Non-Synchronised, four-wheel
DIMENSIONS Kerb Weight: 1,950 lbs.
Overall Length: 182″
Overall Width: 76″
Overall Height: 46″
CHASSIS Type: Chrome-Moly Steel Tube Frame
BODY Materials: Carbon Fibre Body, Front and
RearUnderwing (Ground Effect
SUSPENSION Front: Double A-Arm with Pushrod and Rocker,Coil Over Suspension
Rear: Double A-Arm with Pushrod and Rocker, Coil Over
STEERING Type: Power Assisted Rack and Pinion
BRAKES Discs and Pads: Carbon/Carbon, 14″ Front, 14″ Rear,Brembo 8 Piston Front/Rear
WHEELS Front: 17″x12.5″Rear: 17″x12.5″
TYRES BFGoodrich Experimental Comp T/AFront: P335/30ZR17, Rear:


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It’s a Pick-Up Jim, But Not As We Know It

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