One year during the 25 Hours Of Thunderhill for us California boys it was cold as hell and keeping my gloves and racing shoes dry was a must. It was only 30 degrees but the wind was terrible, blowing sideways and never letting up as the rain began to turn into sleet and snow. Of course we can’t have any type of heaters but we can have lights and anyone who has used halogen lamps know they get pretty hot.
Anyone who has ever spectated, worked, crewed or raced at a round the clock endurance race will tell you that the energy throughout the weekend is unlike anything you will ever experience anywhere else. For those who have crewed or raced, it might just be the toughest thing you will ever do and you will certainly tell the story for the rest of your life.
Donny Edwards has turned the experience up a notch by running the race solo. They call it Ironman. As I’m writing this, Donny is just a few minutes away from 22 hours, making him officially the new NASA Ironman!
Not that it has all been smooth sailing, as the team has had their challenges through the night. First a leaky fuel jug made for a long pit stop, then later on there was a 5 minute penalty resulting from that leak. As often happens, pit reports are becoming interesting as the hours wind on. Donny stopped for a 1/2 hour massage, while Will Faules kept his balls warm with hot chocolate.
Not all teams have had it so easy. Early on, there was a 4 lap full course caution while a Mazda that crashed & burned was cleaned up, the BIGGSB Racing Subaru has burnt the paint off the hood thanks to an oil leak and while I haven’t heard details yet, there are many on the trailer.
Between Will and the NASA live chat, I’ll try to keep our readers in the loop for the final 3 hours of the race. For now, you’ll have to check out the giant gallery of images from the first hours of the race yesterday courtesy of official NASA photographers Head-On Photos.
Thunderhill Is Excited To Announce New Track Events Called Thunderhill Lapping Days. These Events Are Designed For Street Cars And Participants With Prior Track Day Experience. Below Are Some Of The Highlights of These Events. The first on is set for March 31st. Registration Is Available Online At www.thunderhill.com
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Entry Fees Are $160 Per Car/Driver – Sorry No Refunds Will Be Given Unless Events Are Cancelled By Thunderhill Due To Low Turnout Or Re-Booking.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ $199 Per Car/Driver For Walk Up Entries (space subject to availability)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Street Cars Only – Convertibles Allowed With Ã¢â‚¬Å“Factory Rollover ProtectionÃ¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ No Passengers Allowed
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Must Be At Least 18 Years Of Age
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Helmets Required (SA-2005 rated helmets are available for rent at the track)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 3 Run Groups: A-Novice / B-Intermediate / C-Advanced – Run Groups May Be Modified By Management At Any Time
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Maximum 20 Cars Per Run Group
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Corner Workers Onsite
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Event Insurance In Effect (damage to vehicles not covered)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Tow and Fire Services Onsite
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Medical Response Onsite
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Fuel Service Onsite
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Concessions Onsite
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Gates Open At 7:30 a.m.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Drivers Meeting 8:15 a.m.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ On-Track 9:00 a.m.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ These are self teched events
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ A Minimum Of 5 Track Coaches Will Be Available Throughout The Day.
This post is a long time coming, as I’ve been fighting with drivers on the new PC and its too much of a pain to slide over to Mamma G’s side of the desk to hear the audio side of videos.
A couple of weeks ago, occasional contributor to The Garage, Will Faules attacked the dirt surrounding Thunderhill Raceway in his first bike race. Fortunately for us, Will had the foresight to use a trick helmet cam which allows us to see him eat the dirt. Twice!
For the highlights, check out this vid.
To see a full 10 minutes of Will’s greatness, check out another vid after the break.
11/6/08-Willows, CA- Thunderhill has just confirmed that Google will be coming out to the track to add the facilities to Google Maps and Street View. They will be here for the NASA 25hour-test day on Thursday December 4th. Google and Thunderhill want 5 cars to be in the shots for the Street View. The car will need to run about 2 laps during the lunch break at about 40 M.P.H. Eligible cars will be limited to all racecars registered for the 25hour.
Currently Google Maps only shows a big white block where Thunderhill exists. Once completed there will be a track map in the Maps view on Google. Also, the track and paddock will be available in Street View. This will allow one to do a virtual trackwalk, seeing the track at eye level as if one was standing on it all from a computer!
You could be one of the cars in this once in a lifetime experience that will be hosted by Google for many years to come.
Interested parties please email pictures of your car, in the shape it will be in at the 25hour to: email@example.com
For years the Mazda RX7’s reigned as the most popular car among grassroots racing enthusiasts. They were affordable, handled better than a slot car and could go like hell and the best part of all.. they were plentifully. As many years of racing them as I was involved with, I am still amazed how any one car could ever be so popular. The National Auto Sports Association (NASA) created the RX7 programs and it wasn’t long after that the SCCA copied the exact same format. It wasn’t uncommon at all to see drivers from both affiliations running in each others series not to mention many of which ran in NASA’s popular endurance series. And why not, the Mazdas simply had to be the most affordable car known to racing.
But it seems every goodÃ‚Â thing must come to pass and now there is a new kid on the block. I am talking about a European car taking it’s turn with the grassroots crowd. Now BMW is taking it’s turnÃ‚Â in theÃ‚Â Spec E30 class. In the same way that the very successful Pro7 and PS2 Pro Sedan Series, the intent for theÃ‚Â Spec E30 Series is to create high levels of competition between similarly prepared E30’s at a affordable expense. Once again it is NASA who has stepped up to the plate as the sanctioning body for this amazingÃ‚Â new program. Click here for more information http://www.spece30.com/
The People’s Curse Award winner, Mazda-saurus takes a beating post race.
Probably a good thing for it’s life to end this way!
Last week I dropped by Thunderhill Raceway to check out the 24 Hours of LeMons and walked around and took some photos but I didn’t stay for the entire race. Even though I was there for a while I was able to read comments made by teams and see enough photos taken during the race to know it’s the last place in the world I would wish be been caught in a car. Just take a moment to think about it… First of all you are required to have a “piece” of who knows what that is worth less than $500 and the cheaper the better. How many race cars worth $500 can possibly be considered safe all things considered. Drivers are not required to have any track experience and all they have to do is “purchase” a license. I talked to one team driver who had his girlfriend for a teammate and she has never driven on a track in her life. For those of us that have had many hours of seat time we have a very good understanding of what “not” to do and when “not” to do it which was taught to us on tracks by licensed instructors when there was “not” any other cars on the track for us to hit or lives to endanger. However, in this case anyone with fifty bucks can take the first turn as fast as they want with other untrained drivers as well. To make things worse, even if there are some who choose to drive within their known abilities, they are still on a track with other drivers who may either be seasoned race car drivers going at full speed or worse yet they are out there with the ones who don’t realize how unsafe what they are doing truly is and they too are going as fast as they can.
Several weeks ago I was asked to run a car in this years 24 Hours of LeMons being held at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows California but since it was so close to the holidays I decided to take a rain check. As luck would have it my wife, our grandson and I just so happen to be driving by Thunderhill at lunch time on my way to Oregon to spend the holiday with my mother. I told my wife that since it was about time to stop and get a bite to eat it might be fun to stop and check out the race.
Since we had a long 8 more hours of driving ahead of us and not wanting spend too much time at the track my wife went to get some chow at the track cafe while I walked around and got some action photos. But instead of seeing cars doing battle on the track what I found was everyone in the paddock working on their cars. Now I had already been warned that the 24 Hours of LeMons was considerably much more laid back than the demanding rigors that I was used to and had even been told at some point they even take a lunch break.
As exciting as racing in this years La Carrera Panamericana was I just can’t help but want to get back behind Lucky’s wheel for more… A LOT more. But before I go any further, please don’t get me wrong, the effect of having competed in the La Carrera is far from over.
One of the single biggest accomplishments for a car builder is to see his or her project not only perform well but in fact having done it against the very best competitors and having done it at a do or die level and that is exactly how I drove Lucky. Backing up several years ago I remember it was near the end of the year and I was in a very good spot to take the overall points lead for the national seasons championships with only two races left in the season. Right when I thought nothing could go wrong… That’s right… everything went wrong as my car took me head-on into a concrete retaining wall while doing over 125 miles per hour. The good news was I walked away unscathed. The bad news was there was not a single piece of the car that resembled a race car and there was only three and half weeks until the next event in the series. Back in those days I did not have the usual 8 or nine back-up cars that we typically keep on hand for such reasons these days. That meant I had very little time to build and test a car that had already taken me years to accomplish and as everyone knows even the best built car will have “bugs” that usually will only be found while thrashing the car. In an endurance series finding gremlins or any other type of problem can result in a less than satisfactory result and usually any car needs to be “dialed in” regardless of how well built it is.
On the following Monday after the crash I found myself along side my team of dedicated men building a replacement car that had ONLY a roll cage and not a single other part whatsoever in it. I mean NOTHING! With only 3 days before the next race I found myself buckled in the car sitting on Infineon (Sears Point) International Raceway on a test day waiting for the green flag to drop. If you asked me if I thought there would be something that needed attention I would have told you it wouldn’t be if but more like how many. I will never forget that day as I began tearing up the track and going faster and faster all the time asking myself, “When in the hell is something going to happen?” As amazing as it was, the “when” never happened. Not only did I go on to win that years seasons championships but that car kept on going until it had 4 more seasons championships and a lot more and not once did a single component ever break or give me a problem.