COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., (KRDO) -- This year, the 100th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) will feature three elite female competitors among the 81 racers. Ahead of the race, KRDO had the chance to speak with one of those elite athletes, 24-year-old Loni Unser.
The daughter of Johnny Unser, she's no stranger to this lifestyle. Unser is part of the first family to ever race in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1926.
"When I am inside the car everything else fades away, it is like nothing else exists but me, the car, and the road and just becoming one with my car is so important and it's such a cool feeling," said Unser.
She's a fourth-generation racer from one of the most prestigious names in auto-car racing -- but a rookie in the Race to the Clouds.
This year, she'll be competing in a 2019 Porsche GT4 Clubsport.
"Any race I go into, I want to win. So, that's the goal. We will see. It is a huge challenge as a rookie, but I have been working hard and I have a lot of faith in myself that I can make it happen," said Unser.
Inspired by her family's love for this race and history -- she says it's now her turn to put the pedal to the metal.
"I love pikes peak so much! Obviously, I have heard about it from my family for ages, but I did not really think about doing it until last year when I came out as a spectator and as soon as I came out as a spectator I felt the atmosphere, I felt such a cool energy going on and that just what made me wanna do it," said Unser.
Now, 365 days later and she's here.
"Things happen here when you do not know the mountain so having a good knowledge of the mountain is key. I've been watching a lot of videos, I've been testing on my Microtech stimulator and doing everything I can to be as well prepared as I can," added Unser.
And of course -- it helps to have a dad who is not only her mentor but also one of the best race car drivers around.
She hopes her experience will motivate women to pursue racing if they desire to do so.
"It is so cool to be a woman on Pikes Peak, one of three, I hope to see many more women in years to come, you know I think if you dream big and you work hard you can make anything happen and I encourage all women if I can do it, they can do it, why not?" said Unser.
The race to the clouds, presented by Gran Turismo, happens Sunday, June 26. KRDO Newschannel 13 and KRDO Radio will have coverage of the race including real-time results.