After two grueling days and one sleepless and stationary night, the #19 Mazdaspeed/MER1 2006 Mazda MX-5 took the overall and ES class win at the 2008 25 Hours of Thunderhill, racking up a total of 477 laps. The age-old utterance of "slow and steady wins the race" couldn't be more true, but to short-change the Mazdaspeed crew without mentioning their die-hard attitude and utter determination does a disservice to the team and the rest of the participants.
In a race that saw the destruction of one Daytona Prototype, the loss of four (five?) engines and countless competitors, it's amazing that after 18 hours and 17 minutes of track time the first, second and third place overall finishers were separated by less than three seconds. Team Achilles Motorsport #44 1995 BMW M3 took the number two slot (1st in the E0 class), followed by #16 Dreams Motorsports 2009 Honda Civic Si. The Cytosport-challenging #87 Green Alternative Motorsports E85-powered M20F took fourth, with the #29 Mazdaspeed/MER2 MX-5 coming in fifth. All these standings are subject to change over the next week, but the current results can be viewed here.
As impressive as the finish was, it's the field of competitors that truly left us in awe. The endurance format and range of classes means that nearly any kind of car can campaign. The 25 Hours of Thunderhill is easily one of the most awe-inspiring motorsports events we've attended in recent memory and we hope to be back next year -- fog or not -- to bring you even more coverage from the rolling hills outside Willows.
A special thanks to our photographer Brad Wood for putting hundreds of jaw-dropping shots. More is on the way tonight (we've got a few more galleries and we'll do a Top 10 competitors gallery soon). Also, props to NASA's Jay Shirley who kept the servers on boil to give us up-to-the-second standings, and thanks to the timing crew on the 2nd floor for their help, patience and bad jokes.