The sun rose last Sunday morning to a considerably diminished field at Thunderhill Raceway Park. Of the 57 cars that had started the race the day before, only 37 were still running as of 9 AM on day two, following a dark, cold night in which temperatures plummeted into the low teens. (Remember, many of the competitors were driving open-cockpit vehicles!) In a surprising turn of events, the leader through much of the night — the Quick Racing Superlite SLC, #03 — was forced to drop out around 5 AM due to an irreparable steering problem. The number-two overall car, Rotek Racing’s Audi TT RS (#24), took over the front position and soon had a commanding — and unbeatable — 30-lap lead. When the checkered flag dropped a little after noon, the Audi had finished 705 laps during the 25-hour event, and put 1,819 miles on the odometer. By contrast, the next closest competitor, Barrett Racing’s Porsche GT3 Cup (#83), had managed only 667 laps.
Radical West claimed the third spot overall with their #38 Radical, but the story behind the fourth-place win for GMG Racing is actually the more inspiring one. GMG suffered a major setback when their Audi R8 LMS (#8) crashed during a Friday morning test run. Fortunately, the car’s driver, Drew Regitz, was unhurt, but the car was beat up badly enough it seemed unlikely it would race, especially when GMG missed qualifying on Friday evening. But the entire team pulled together and worked through the night, replacing some 212 parts to get the car back together just in time to grid up Saturday morning. The R8 went on to perform very well, and by the final hour of the race, GMG was jockeying for second position with the Barrett Porsche GT3. But then, with less than 30 minutes left to go, disaster struck again for GMG as the Audi’s gearbox disintegrated. In the end, the team was allowed to push the car over the finish line. The R8 racked up 662 total laps, just behind the 667 laps made by Barrett’s Porsche.
As for the other cars and teams this reporter was following, Team SPOON, led by 2011 Formula Drift Champion Daijiro (Dai) Yoshihara, made 27th overall with 592 laps on their Honda CR-Z (#95); the #86 Chevy Camaro run by Kleen Blast/Davids Racing landed in 34th place (534 laps), not a bad showing for a NASCAR fish-out-of-water; the awesome Quick Racing Superlite came in 36th overall (507 laps), somewhat disappointing after its superior performance throughout most of the race; and the COLDCOCK Whiskey Silverado (#66) — which caught this writer’s eye because it’s just such a strange beast, a pick-up body on a tube frame, riding only inches off the ground — ended way down in the 45th spot, with only 339 laps completed.
Finally, the JFC Racing Wolf #52 failed to meet early expectations, finishing well back at 36th place (527 laps), due to electrical problems. However, with living legend Al Unser, Jr., at the wheel, the car scored the fastest lap of the race, 1:37.789… quite the comeback for Unser, who hasn’t driven competitively since the 2007 Indy 500.
Complete results for the event, broken down by racing class, can be found here.
In closing, the Daily Derbi would like to congratulate first-place Rotek Racing’s drivers and crew, as well as everyone else who competed in this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Also, our thanks to the gracious staff and volunteers at Thunderhill Raceway Park for their support and assistance during a long but incredible weekend of motorsports. Thunderhill regularly hosts all kinds of events that are open to the public, many of which are free; click here to learn more, and to start planning your trip to see next year’s 25 Hours. Or if you’d like to know more about the sponsor of this event, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and what that organization offers for the racer in all of us, visit their main website.
Make sure you check back in the next few days for our “In Photos:” gallery of the event!
This was Jason Bennion’s first time covering 25 Hours of Thunderhill. He also blogs at www.jasonbennion.com, when the silly thing is functioning properly.