8/8/18 11:06 a.m.

To the acclaim of nearly everyone who watched this summer’s iconic Race to the Clouds on Colorado’s Pikes Peak, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima shattered the mountain’s fabled 10-minute barrier with an almost perfect run to the 14,110-foot summit. The onboard video has attracted nearly a million views on YouTube. It was Tajima’s sixth win in as many tries, but this one was special. His two main adversaries in the Unlimited Class, Rhys Millen and Paul Dallenbach, had learned much from last year’s climb and came better prepared to defeat the tenacious Japanese champion.

As exciting as Tajima’s record is, it’s also important to understand why, after 22 years of trying, he was finally able to accomplish his life’s goal. In addition to Tajima’s 850-horsepower, twin-turbo, four-wheel-drive V6 Suzuki SX4 being perfectly suited to this year’s course, there were a couple of extenuating circumstances that may warrant an asterisk.

However, don’t let that detract from the fact that he was the only one of four potential winners to actually get under the long-sought 10-minute mark. Everyone who ran that day faced the same weather and traction. When building a vehicle for the single run to the summit, there’s always some uncertainty about the best combination of power, downforce, tires and brakes. The conditions change each year, and the ideal setup is a moving target. What might have been perfect one year won’t necessarily be perfect by the next.

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