Weird, wacky, wonderful Thunderhill is this weekend

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It’s very rare in modern racing you hear of “racing for the sake of racing.” But with the 2013 season largely in the books, championships decided, top-10 lists written and all the rest, it’s rare you get as close to a pure event full of “run what you brung” machinery that runs the gamut from jalopies to supercars.

Welcome to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. It’s weird, it’s wacky, it’s windy, and it’s wonderful.

Nearly 250 drivers from more than 60 teams are entered for the NASA-sanctioned endurance race in Northern California. It’s not as formal as the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, which is still laid back but arguably has way more on the line as one of club racing’s top events. What it is, is an abnormal test of man, machine, cold temperatures and limited lighting with a mash up of cars you wouldn’t think could be possible to all run on one track at the same time.

Supercars like the Audi R8, fielded by Pirelli World Challenge team GMG Racing, Lexus IS and Porsche GT3 Cups are entered. There are newer model cars, like the Mazda6, Acura ILX or Ford Mustang Boss 302S.

Then there are the wacky: There’s, and I’m not making this up, No. 66 Chevy Silverado truck entered by a team called “ColdCock Whiskey Silverado” (similar to the one pictured right). A bunch of old Miatas and RX-7s are there. Radical SR3 prototypes, Panoz GTS sports cars, BMW M3s and Honda Fits. All together.

Among the drivers entered? There’s two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr., racing with son Al III, in a Wolf GB08S prototype. Memo Gidley, Anthony Lazzaro, Naoki Hattori, Frisselle brothers Burt and Brian and drift star Tyler McQuarrie are among the familiar names to race fans you’ll see in action this weekend. Others who have competed in PWC – James Sofronas, Jon Miller and Alex Welch to name a few – will also be on hand.

A full rundown of the teams entered and drivers entered are linked here. Match the “Team #” for drivers to see which team they will be racing with.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool