Eight-time winner and record-holder Nobuhiro ''Monster''
Tajima, of Tokyo, visits the Highlands Motorsports Park at
Cromwell yesterday. Photo by Mark Price
The eight-time winner of the Race to the Sky hill climb
at Cardrona just might compete next April in a car running on
electricity rather than petrol.
Nobuhiro ''Monster'' Tajima (65), of Tokyo, holds the record
time (8min 0.1sec) for the race, which ran for 10 years until
The race is being revived by the Highlands Motorsports Park
and yesterday Mr Tajima and park officials checked how the
gravel race course, from the Cardrona Valley to the Snow Farm
on the Pisa Range, had changed since he last raced there.
At a press conference in Cromwell, Mr Tajima said he wanted
to win the title twice more and set a record of under 8min.
And he did not rule out the possibility of trying to do it in
his E-Runner electric car.
Mr Tajima switched to electric cars for the American Pikes
Peak International Hill Climb in 2012, citing his concern
over climate change.
This year, he came third in the electric modified class and
was just 41 seconds behind the overall winner.
Mr Tajima said there were a variety of factors to consider
when choosing what type of car to use for the Race to the Sky
- altitude being a major one. Petrol engines lost efficiency
at altitude, which gave electric vehicles an advantage at the
high-altitude Pikes Peak event.
As well, the gradients at Pikes Peak and Race to the Sky were
different and there were different road surfaces.
The sealing of the Pikes Peak track has left Race to the Sky
as the longest gravel hill climb in the world.
It is 14.5km long, has 135 turns, and starts at 450m above
sea level and finishes at 1500m.
Mr Tajima said he loved racing on gravel and taking part in
the Cardrona event, and he would be giving his choice of
electric or petrol car a lot of thought ''over a glass of
wine'' while staying in Central Otago last night.
He believed electric cars were the way of the future and more
would be seen of them in motor racing as batteries improved.
''Every hour, batteries improve. With good batteries, we can
Race for the Sky founder Grant Aitken believed motor racing
had to ''embrace'' new technology.
''It could be an electric car whispering up the Snow Farm
access road next year in Race to the Sky. We've got to
rethink things, don't we?''Mr Aitken said he was yet to
decide whether he would be a spectator or competitor at next
Race for the Sky will run from April 17 to 19 and motorsports
park owner Tony Quinn said some past competitors were keen to
He expected more than 100 cars, bikes and buggies to compete
to be ''King of the Hill''.
''Having Monster back is certainly a drawcard but we also
want to attract more of the world's best and some of the new
up-and-coming talent, too.''