Mazda Teams Prepare for a Grueling Test

RA Motorsports and Sick Sideways are among top Mazda teams entered for the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance is set for its next running this weekend, and several Mazda teams are preparing to tackle America’s longest endurance race, including a three-time winner looking for a fourth consecutive class win.

While Flying Lizard Motorsports gets much of the attention for its trio of overall wins, Team RA Motorsports has accomplished a similar feat, winning the E3 class three years running. Racing three Mazda Miatas in E3, the team has been putting in late nights to prepare for the grueling event, where weather is often as big a player as the other cars.

“No pressure to win a fourth,” says team owner Ron Gayman. “We know if we just drive smart, we always have a chance. Just coming prepared is half the battle. Even then, crap happens! So, having things to fix the car is a must.

“We come to have a good time and finish the race, hopefully with no drama. And if several other cars are on top of their game as well, we always feel we will be there at the end,” he adds. RA Motorsports has a fourth Miata entered for E0, that one with an engine swap.

Three other teams have Miatas entered in E3. A+ Racing has two cars on the entry list, one under “A+ Racing New and Improved” with a 1994 Miata and one under the ‘A+ Racing Same As Before” with a ’99. A+ Racing is spearheaded by Alvin Angulo, an auto shop instructor in the Placer Union High School District near Sacramento, Calif. The cars are built by high school students, with students also performing pit crew duties. Brown/Heyer also has a ’99 entered, and Team Neth brings a 2000 Miata.

Sick Sideways is making the long haul from Florida with two Mazda MX-5 Cup cars. One of them will be running in partnership with Shift Up Now, a program aimed at empowering women through motorsports. That team will have a stellar lineup of professional drivers, including Ashley Freiberg, Pippa Mann, Sarah Montgomery and Shea Holbrook, along with Amy Dilks.

“To be a part of this all female driver line up is honestly a dream come true,” says Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup driver Montgomery. “I can’t believe I have this incredible opportunity to work with these formidable women drivers on team Sick Sideways. Racing in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Series for many years has taught me how important it is to introduce the sport to many young women. It has been a pleasure working with Shift Up Now to put this program together in my own race car and I honestly can’t wait for the race weekend.”

The driver lineup for the other Sick Sideways entry will be announced soon.

Those wishing to follow the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, which starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, have several options. All can be accessed from Toyo Tires is sponsoring a live broadcast with trackside cameras and live interviews from the hot pits. Go to to directly access the broadcast. Live timing and scoring will be available through RaceHero and, of course, you can follow through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.