Thanks to the 2014 Acura ILX, this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance challenge had two claims to fame: Not only was it once again the site of the longest race in the country—chronologically speaking—but it also was the launching pad for a surprisingly successful first foray into motorsports.
In this year’s event, an unofficial team of colleagues from Honda’s R&D facility in Torrance, Calif., debuted a pair of 2014 Acura ILX racers that went on to finish first and fourth in their class. The winning car was driven by Scott Nicol, Sage Marie, Lee Niffenegger and Matt Staal, and also came in ninth overall in the race for Team Honda Research West (THRW).
"It was a great run by the team," Marie said at the finish. "We had a bit of drama here and there, but overall our pace was really good, as you can see from our eighth-overall finish. The BFGoodrich tires had a lot of grip in all conditions, and the Acura ILX is a great racecar. The THRW team did an awesome job all weekend."
In fact, at the end of the day (plus one hour), the winning 2014 Acura ILX had rung up 643 laps around the 2.58-mile, 15-turn circuit in Willows, Calif. It was a full seven laps more than the next closest finisher, and that was ahead of some very strong competition: After winning multiple Grand-Am championships this year with the 2014 Mazda6 diesel racer, Mazda brought three factory-supported cars to compete in the same class as the ILX. Needless to say, the SKYACTIV crew didn’t have quite the same success at Thunderhill, with their top car finishing third, 14 laps behind the victorious 2014 Acura ILX—and seven laps behind an Acura RSX entered by Fantasy Junction racing.
And while all that may not result in a sudden surge of sales to weekend racers, enthusiasts should keep in mind that the 2014 Acura ILX does offer an unexpectedly athletic package. For $29,200, you can get into an ILX with a six-speed manual transmission and a 2.4-liter I4 that makes 201 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque; a BMW 320i, regardless of its many benefits, starts at $32,750 with .4 fewer liters of displacement, 21 fewer horsepower and no manual transmission—and no Thunderhill victories, either.