So my friend Derrick Ambrose over at Corksport (www.corksport.com) invited me to tag along for an endurance car race this past December. I had never heard of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to shoot images of anything that sounds this exciting so of course I said yes. He was appointed crew chief to one of the race cars that he had tuned at his shop, one of the new diesel Mazda 6’s. So Derrick, his dad, Jeremy and I jumped into their Mazda 5 and made the drive from Vancouver, WA to Willows, CA in the middle of the night. We arrived early morning and beat the rest of the team to the track. Now when he said come to the race and there will be the Mazda Factory Team we’ll be with I was not expecting the team to be comprised of about 40 people, 1 giant semi, a giant tent and a whole other team of caterers for the team. I’d never had the racing team experience but I’d say this was a pretty awesome way to pop my cherry. Mazda/Mazdaspeed took amazing care of everyone. 2 days were spent tuning, inspecting and testing the cars on the track. The drivers also used that time to get familiar with the track and the vehicles under varying conditions.
Once race day rolled around everything was ready to go. Everyone knew their places, food and coffee were ready for the all nighter, drivers were rested up and the rest was history. The start of the race was a pretty big ceremony with all the cars lined up at the start and all the teams, crew chiefs and drivers making any necessary last minute adjustments. I never thought about how many things could go wrong in 25 hours. Cars breaking down, accidents, blowouts, weather and just about anything else you can think of. The safety crews and fire trucks were going at it ALL night. But the race just kept going, it was incredible. We lost a couple of cars but 2 finished. In the process a few kinks were discovered and worked out on the cars. At the end of the race the winning car almost wasn’t afforded their victory lap because the engine wouldn’t start up. After running for 25 hours straight it just didn’t want to give it another lap, but they finally got it going and everyone cheered. Not an experience I will soon forget. If you get a chance to go out and watch an endurance car race I recommend it, just don’t forget to bring ear plugs because if you aren’t used to it the sound will bring a headache on pretty quickly!