11/21/1950 – 12/08/2016
Chuck’s love for the Pikes Peak Hillclimb began when he lived in Colorado Springs as a boy in the 1960’s when his father, Sam Hopper, was stationed at Peterson Field. Sam was a retired fighter pilot who respected the challenge of the race and the racers who competed to conquer the mountain.
Chuck got the chance to challenge the mountain when he moved back to Colorado Springs in 1978. He first raced in 1980 in the 250 Motorcycle Amateur Division, then returned in the 250 Motorcycle Pro Division in 1981 and 1982. The race in 1982 was marred by the death of Chuck’s good friend and roommate at the time, Billy Gross.
When the motorcycles returned in 1991, Chuck was the first to put together a ride and sign up in the 500 Motorcycle Pro Division. He and close friend and fierce competitor, Chuck Lee, raced each other hard and had a substantial lead on 3rd place Larry Roeseler only to collide at Devil’s Playground and hand the win to Roeseler.
Chuck raced in 92 and 93 and was finally able to achieve his goal of winning the hill climb in 1994 in the 250 Motorcycle Pro Division. He continued to race in the Motorcycle Division in 1995, 1996 and 1997. In 96 and 97 he was joined by his son Chuck Hopper Jr in the 250 Motorcycle Pro Division. Practicing, Qualifying and Racing bar to bar with his son added a whole new level of love and anxiety to the race.
Although he never raced after 1997, there was never a 4th of July or Hillclimb weekend that went by without long thoughts of the epic memories created and long hours spent on America’s Mountain.
The Pikes Peak Hillclimb was never just a race to be won or a mountain to be conquered. It was a passion that started as a dream, out lasted disappointments, losses and even tragedy. He will spend eternity with a part of his soul on Pikes Peak.