Carlin Dunne had won the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado four times, and in the words of the Colorado Springs Gazette, he was "only a few yards from likely wrapping up his fifth victory" at the historic race when tragedy struck. He was on the course's last stretch Sunday morning, 14,115 feet up "America's Mountain," when he lost control of his Ducati motorcycle and veered off the highway, landing among a pile of boulders. Though he initially appeared conscious and was said to be moving, on Sunday afternoon race officials confirmed the Santa Barbara, Calif., native had been killed. Riders had been having trouble with a hump in the pavement near the summit (the Gazette has video of participants driving over it), and the Denver Post reports Dunne is believed to have hit it at a high speed, causing his front wheel to spin out.
"I would call it a whoops section," one of Dunne's teammates said. "It's pretty smooth until you get to where Carlin went down." Dunne, 36, knew better than most just how dangerous the race is: In 2016, he was part of a safety team assembled by Ducati to talk about the course conditions with race participants who were preparing. "We all know that motorcycle racing can be dangerous, but you take the necessary precautions," he told CNN at the time. "Many people look at it who are not familiar with it and they think it might be reckless abandon, just a bunch of guys twisting and throttling, riding into oblivion. But we take it very, very seriously." Motorsport.com notes that the 12-mile race has 156 turns; the Gazette calls it a "daunting layout of steep grades and hairpin curves" that takes place "on a rugged track different from most in the world." Dunne's death is the seventh associated with the race. (Lightning struck a motorcyclist, causing a fatal crash.)