BEHIND THE WHEEL – With Codie Vahsholtz

Colorado Springs, CO – On June 25 the green flag will drop for the iconic Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo, and Codie Vahsholtz will strap in behind the wheel to pilot his powerhouse, purpose-built Ford to the summit.
Piloting the same car his father, Clint, drove to a 2020 King of the Mountain championship, the third generation racer hopes to add to the legacy his father and grandfather have firmly established on the 12.42 mile course.
Photo by Louis Yio
Born into a family of avid motorsports competitors and living practically on the slopes of Pikes Peak, Vahsholtz grew up watching the race, spending time in the automotive shop, and hearing stories from his father and grandfather, Leonard, about the days when the road was an unpaved, gravel course.
The family’s involvement with the race goes back decades. While well-known locally for their racing triumphs, they also serve as race officials. Codie’s grandmother, Barbara, helped establish an incredibly accurate back-up hand timing system which she managed for years. His mom, Shelly, has now assumed that role with other family members assisting.
Codie first tackled the mountain as a competitor in 2011 in the 250cc motorcycle division, finishing third aboard his 1996 Kawasaki KX250. In 2012, he achieved the same result on the same bike, but in 2013, notched his first win in the renamed Pikes Peak 250 division with a record time of 11:24.792. His second win came in 2015 in the Pikes Peak Lightweight class this time on his 2006 KTM SMR where he set a class record of 10:50.421.
Vahsholtz shifted to the Pikes Peak Middleweight class in 2016 and the following year (pictured) captured the division win with a time of 10:34.967.
Photo by Larry Chen
By 2018, Codie was squarely in the sights of the factory Ducati team and was invited to race in the Pikes Peak Heavyweight division where he claimed 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in the 2019. Tragically, his Ducati teammate, and Pikes Peak champion, Carlin Dunne, was killed in the 2019 race just short of the finish line.
Although motorcycle competition was suspended on the mountain, Vahsholtz was not finished racing. In 2021, he entered the Vahsholtz Racing 2013 Ford Open. Not only did he garner second place in the Open Wheel division, he was crowned Rookie of the Year for his first year on the mountain on four wheels.
The past two years’ efforts, while successful, where hampered by weather conditions that were less than ideal. In 2021, the race ended just below Devil’s Playground due to an icy road near the summit. But the mountain wasn’t finished challenging drivers, dishing out extremely foggy, wet and cold conditions in 2022.
Vahsholtz and the team are looking for clear conditions and a fast course in 2023 as they hope to repeat the Open Wheel division win.
Asked about prepping the car for this year’s race, Codie offered, “Racing this year, in general, is a huge feat for the team. We are making quite a few changes to gain some more power, improve the chassis dynamics and incorporate more aggressive brakes.”
Photo by Louis Yio
Codie shared what it means to be racing on the mountain this year with his dad, Clint. “To have my dad alongside me and our team while we get things dialed in is one of the biggest advantages we could ever ask for. It will be a great feeling seeing him in the competition mindset again.”
Clint and Codie Vahsholtz enjoy Fan Fest, 2022.
Photo by Larry Chen
In 2022, Codie Vahsholtz qualified in the top 15. His Fast 15 award was presented by two-time King of the Mountain, Errol Kobilan, also a former Open Wheel champion.
Photo by Larry Chen
First staged in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest race in America. The invitation-only event, often referred to as The Race to the Clouds is held annually on the last Sunday of June on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The famous 12.42-mile (20 km) course consists of 156 turns, boasts an elevation gain of 4,725 feet (1,440 m), and reaches a finish line at 14,115 feet (4,302 m) above sea level. The PPIHC’s six race divisions feature a wide variety of vehicles – from production-based Time Attack challengers to purpose-built Open Wheel racers and state-of-the-art Unlimited vehicles. The current race record was set in 2018 by Romain Dumas and Volkswagen in the all-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak – 07:57.148.