Pro and celeb racers on track at Thunderhill
A total of 75 race cars will take the green flag Saturday for the 8th Annual 25-hour Endurance Automobile Race at Thunderhill Park in Willows.
The event is the longest automobile endurance race in all of North America. Teams of drivers not only put their pedals to the medal, but test their own mettle braving the cold winter weather, the three-mile, 15-turn course and the threat of other competitors to see if they can survive and take the checkered flag at noon Sunday.
"It is a grueling experience," noted track CEO and regular competitor David Vodden, a driver on the Hoover Speed team for this year's race. "Keep in mind that the only lights at night on the road course are your headlights and those of the other racers," Vodden said.
Because there are many classes in the contest, each with several entries competing for the class win, drivers not only race against each other in a class but also have to dodge the faster entries of other classes as they speed past at speeds well over 150 mph.
"There are very fast formula cars and Grand Touring Machines dicing in between various slower production based (cars), which really tests the skills of the drivers of both the faster and the slower machines," Vodden explained, adding, "there is action everywhere for 25 hours, non-stop."
Another unique element of this race is the pit stops. Most race fans have seen pit stops on television for NASCAR races but, in this event, pit stops not only include adding fuel and changing tires but also changing drivers and brakes and, in some cases, making major repairs.
There are a number of celebrities expected to compete in the race, including actor Paul Walker from films that include "Varsity Blues", "Running Scared" and two of the "Fast and Furious" movies. Walker will be part of a filming process that will be taking place which is expected to serve as a pilot for an upcoming television series.
Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey is also expected to do his share of the driving in one of the three Motorsports Enterprises Racing Team vehicles.
Gates open Saturday at 8 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Sunday's gates for the big finish open at 7 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults each day, with kids under 12 admitted free.
For more information call 934-5588, ext. 100.