NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill – 2012
By Travis Wolcott
This year marked the 25th Anniversary of Thunderhill Raceway Park, a technical 3 mile road course outside of Willows, CA, comprised of 15 corners and one rather large hill we call the “ski jump”. The weekend of December 8-9th was the 10th anniversary of the country’s longest endurance sports car race, the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
|NASA's 25 Hours of Thunderhill brings together a large diverse field of race cars. Here we see the CRE-Achilles Tire-AIM CB01-R lining up next to an old school SE-R.|
|The lone pick-up in the ES class managed a third place finish in a field full of Porsches and BMWs.|
It’s a grueling race where 69 cars in 6 classes raced from 11am Saturday until noon on Sunday. That’s longer than the combined length of two Pirelli World Challenge seasons in one grueling race. It does have a grassroots feel about it, but the challenge of 25 hours brings out some household names like Randy Pobst, Robb Holland, Charles Espenlaub and Tyler McQuarrie to name a few.
|And who could forget names like Travis Wolcott?! Playing a dual role of reporting on my experience at this great event and piloting the #79 Mazda MX5 from Atlanta Motorsports Group in the E2 class.|
Practice was held on Thursday and Friday, however night practice amounted to only about 45 minutes. The track is a great combination of speed, rhythm, and blind corners. Turn 1 is a very fast left hander that is very wide at track in, taking you over the blend line and into the path of cars leaving the pits. It tightens up at the exit and it’s difficult to see the track out until you’re right on it, and not a place you want to come up on a spun car. Turn 2 is a long 180 degree left hander that leads into the blind, off camber entrance to a tight right hander in turn 3. Enter this corner too wide, and the track falls away and you could find yourself struggling to stay out of the dirt.