25 Hours of Thunderhill Experience

Glendora, CA. Dec. 23rd: I recently competed in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with the Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Team under the tent of the Robert Davis Crew. Mazda built a Mazda 2 into a B-spec race car at the PRI show in three days. The car was then made the long trailer-haul from Orlando, FL to Willows, CA. This project was to demonstrate the durability, reliability, and how easy it is to build a race car for under $25k. Mazda is known for their cars to be reliable as well as cost effective, and this was no exception.

The car arrived at Thunderhill Raceway on Thursday night after the long 5 day journey. The car was fully prepared at PRI except for a quick nut and bolt check that needed to be done once it arrived on-site.

I was selected by Mazdaspeed to race with five other drivers, those drivers being Charles Espenlaub, Tristan Vautier, Tom Long, Ed Bergenholts, and Scott Shelton. In charge was crew chief Kyle Kimball who stayed up the entire 25 hours to be on the radio to communicate with the drivers. Everyone got up to speed quickly on Friday during the test day and was ready for the grueling 25 hour race the next day.

The car held up wonderfully the entire race! The only problem that occurred was the camber bolt came loose. Charles tightened it up and the car was off racing again. We only had one penalty the whole race for a miscommunication with a tow truck that was on track. By the end of the 25 hours the stout, little Mazda 2 had finished 37th overall, starting from around 70th position.

We opted out of starting in our qualifying spot to stay out of the carnage in turn one, knowing our goal was to finish, and that’s what we accomplished! Not one part of the car broke and the oil level did not even drop an ounce after the entire 25 hours. Kyle was a little emotional after it was over, and had the right to be. He worked harder than all of us combined and deserves more than a pat on the back.

I would not be in the position I am in if it were not for Mazda doing what they do to bring up the grassroot guys like me. I cannot show enough gratitude to have the opportunity that was given to me. Last but not least, hat’s off to the Robert Davis Racing Crew and all the drivers for keeping the car in one piece.

Thanks for the support from My Parents, Thomas Merrill Motorsports, GoPro Cameras, Skip Barber Racing School, Mazda, Robert Davis Racing, and Mazdaspeed Motorsports.