Rhys Millen is no stranger to summiting Pikes Peak, in Colorado Springs, having piloted everything from production based racers to purpose built single seat prototypes. In fact, this type of competition is in the native New Zelander’s blood. His father Rod is an international hill climb champion and is also well known for building the baddest machines to ever turn a tire on the 156 turn 12.42 mile course.
For 2012 the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb included a few new twists; the first being an overwhelming number of electric powered entrants (a sign of the more environmentally friendly future of racing) and the second being tarmac, lots of it. That is because unlike every other running of the annual race to the clouds where racers would have to transition from pavement to dirt as they got up past the tree line, this year the entire course was paved, at the Sierra Club’s request.
The lack of surface changes allowed competitors to run more aggressive suspension setups as well as DOT legal slicks in an attempt to get up the mountain faster than ever before. The price to be paid for the increase in speed happened to be quite a few serious crashes that resulted in more than a few helicopter rides to the hospital.
When all was said and done, Rhys proved that he not only had the “Mad Skills” to walk away from Pikes Peak with the RMR Hyundai Genesis Coupe in one piece, but that the Kiwi also has what it takes to get to the top in only 9 minutes 46.164 seconds, setting a new world record for the 2WD Time Attack class (and bettering the Open Class Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Romain Dumas). As it turns out, the new record set by Rhys replaces the 11 minute 4.912 second record setting run from 2011 that was set by his father Rod in the same Genesis Coupe.