Anyone who has raced in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill will tell you it’s a monumental undertaking — even if you’re only racing one car.
Now in its ninth year running the 25 Hours, Mazda brought five cars to the 2015 race: four brand-spanking-new Global MX-5 Cup cars fresh from being built at Long Road Racing and one RX-8 from the Mothers Polishes and Waxes stable. The MX-5 Cup cars, which were divided evenly among Mazda North American Operations employees and Mazda dealers from all five of Mazda’s sales regions, raced in E0. The RX-8 campaigned in E2, a class it won in 2014. That’s a lot of cars for one team, so how do they do it?
“We have one crew chief per car,” said Mazda North American Operations Senior Vice President, U.S. Operations Group Robert Davis, who runs the team. “We’re running five cars and then we have one team leader per assignment. We have timing and information. We have media and marketing. We have tires and we have fuel. One for each of the team leaders and one crew chief per car.”
The core volunteers have been with the team for all nine years Mazda has been campaigning cars at the 25, so there’s a lot of experience from which to draw, Davis said. Mazda’s team consisted of 60-some people, with the labor divided among the five teams. In addition to the crew chiefs and team leaders, there were eight guys for tires, 12 for fueling, four for marketing and four for timing and scoring.
The team might be experienced, but the 2015 25 Hours of Thunderhill marked the first time the Global MX-5 Cup cars were raced. The four at Thunderhill were the first four Cup cars built at Long Road Racing, Davis said.
When the checkered flag flew Sunday at noon, all four MX-5 Cup cars were still running, as was the RX-8, which won E2 for the second consecutive year. The Cup cars, largely outgunned among the much faster entrants in E0, finished fourth, eighth, ninth and 11th in E0.