- Veteran racer Rod Millen will drive the revised Toyota TMG EV P002 in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb June 30.
- The car, with Fumio Nutahara at the wheel, won the EV class and set the division speed record last year.
- Millen is a five-time overall champion at Pikes Peak, with nine total victories, and is the father of the defending overall champ, Rhys Millen.
COLOGNE, Germany — Toyota, which set the electric vehicle speed record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last year, will team with New Zealand racer Rod Millen in an upgraded version of the Toyota TMG EV P002 racing car in this year's "race to the clouds."
Millen, 62, is a veteran of rally and off-road racing whose son, Rhys, is the defending overall champion and record holder in the Pikes Peak classic. Father and son each won nine times at Pikes Peak, with the father claiming a 5-1 advantage in overall victories.
Rod Millen will take over the TMG EV P002, which Toyota reports as upgraded for 2013 since Fumio Nutahara drove it to an EV record of 10 minutes, 15.380 seconds in last year's race. That was good for a 6th-place overall finish.
The car also holds the EV record on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany.
Engineers at the TMG electric vehicle technology center in Cologne have translated data from last year's Pikes Peak race into modifications that are expected to improve the vehicle's performance in this year's race.
Changes include an increase in motor speed and torque and tuning of the powertrain's operating parameters to better suit the challenge of the 12.42-mile course, which includes 156 turns and a rise of 4,720 feet to the finish line at elevation 14,110 feet on the mountain named for explorer Zebulon Pike.
Before the car goes to Colorado for the 91st running of the Pikes Peak event on June 30, it will get aerodynamic tweaks at the Toyota Racing Development USA facility in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Millen's five overall victories at Pikes Peak rank second only to Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima's nine wins. Reports conflict, but Tajima will possibly compete this year in an EV.
Edmunds says: Is it ironic, or was it inevitable, that the environmentally controversial Pikes Peak event would become one of the leading proving grounds for alternative-energy racing cars? Perhaps, paradoxically, both.