The USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill saw a field of 57 cars racing in six classes (ES, ESR, E0, E1, E2, E3) going twice around the clock plus an hour over the 2.86-mile, 15-turn track located 90-minutes north of Sacramento.
The Venn, or set diagram that best showcases Mazda Motorsports and its efforts in motor culture are
the overlapping portions of participants measured between endurance racing and club racing. This overlap was showcased on a brisk, but clear weekend at the longest endurance race in America, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Of the 57 cars (60 entered) that took the green flag on Saturday, 16 of them were Mazda-powered, more than any other marque/brand. When the checkered flag dropped on Sunday, three of the six classes had Mazda racers on the podium, led by Mazda class-wins in the E2 and E3 classes.
Of particular interest to Mazda employees and dealers was the “Factory Guys versus Dealers” battle in identically prepared, modified-for-racing 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels. The final score was dealers over the factory guys, but ultimately it was a win-win as the three Mazda6s were perfect on the powertrain front, all three finishing. A few minor racing-related incidents resulted in suspension repairs, but great driving and amazing fuel economy meant that the #55 Mazda6, driven by Mazda dealers Richard Fisher (The Autobarn Mazda, Evanston, IL), Joel Weinberger (Continental Motors, Naperville, IL) and Taz Harvey (Dublin Mazda, Tracy Mazda, Dublin/Tracy, CA) finished on the podium in the E1 class. The second Mazda dealer car finished fifth with the Mazda employees sixth.
“While Le Mans and Daytona are better known endurance races, the Thunderhill 25 can make a claim as being every bit as challenging,” said Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, US Operations. “For Mazda to come here with three brand new cars, prepped by volunteer employees on their own time, and a team of dealers and employees to drive them, speaks volumes about our cars and our people. Equally important is having another dozen-plus customer teams who chose to race our products. Success at this track is a combination of having the right cars and the right teams, and a little racing luck, and we’re pleased to have two more wins here. Congratulations to everyone at Sector Purple Racing and RJ Racing on their E2 and E3 wins.”
Mazda class winners and podium finishers at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill:
Finish Position - Class - Car # - Team - Model
3rd Place E1 No. 55 Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 Dealers A - Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel
The E2 Class was won by is the No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata, driven by Kyle Watkins, Dan Williams, Glen Conser and Robert W. Ames.
"The plan was to come out stay incident free and not be off the track," Conser said. "We got good gas mileage, saved the tires and we put together a solid effort. We had some contact in the middle of the night when Dan was driving, but that was about it for our trouble. We had very smooth pit stops and overall just ran a great race."1st Place E2 No. 78 Sector Purple Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
In the E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata driven by John Gibson, Rob Gibson, Jamie Florence, Roger Eagleton, Gary Browne won the class.
"It was a really great run," said team representative Chris Hillebrandt. "Last year we blew a motor 12 hours in after winning in 2011. We had some mixed emotions coming in this year. We raced our race and we won it again. We really did not have a lot of issues. We had some small issue with our dash giving us a funny fuel reading. It would give us a number than go out. Sometimes we had to wait until it coughed to come in an fuel the car. The drivers and team did a great job."
1st Place E3 No. 23 RJ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
2nd Place E3 No. 36 Spare Parts Racing 2 - Mazda MX-5 Miata
3rd Place E3 No. 60 A+ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
705 laps covered by leader (laps x 2.86-track miles = 1,819 total racing miles covered)
13 caution periods
57 cars started, 40 finished
Fast lap of the race was set by Al Unser Jr. in the No. 52 JFC Racing Wolf, time of 1:37.789
Final and hourly timing reports are posted at http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/NASA_California-Northern_Region/25%20Hours%20of%20Thunderhill/.
* Great mix of cars including Audi R8 LMS, Audi TT RS, Norma Sports Racer, Seat Leon, Lexus IS300, Mazda 6 Diesel, Miata MX-5 and RX-8, Acura ILX, Honda Civic, Honda CR-Z, Factory Five Racing, Chevrolet Silverado, Porsche 997, etc.
* Six classes of race cars E0, E1, E2, E3, ES, ESR
* 60+ entries in E0 7, E1 10, E2 7, E3 11, ES 17, ESR 9; 16 Mazda entries, 12 BMW, 4 Porsche, 4 Honda, 4 Acura
... notes from The EDJE