The 14th edition of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance is ready to take the green flag for twice-around-the-clock plus one-hour of racing December 3-4 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows. Calif.
Mazda is returning with a full line-up of dealer/drivers complimented by a few ringers. Senior Vice President Robert Davis will be orchestrating Mazda’s multi-car Mazda MX-5 Cup effort in the longest endurance race in North America, at this weekend’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill. In true Mazda fashion, the company will participate with Mazda dealers at the wheel, and Mazda employees volunteering their weekend to crew the cars.
Robert Davis, Senior Vice-President, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), said, “No one visits Thunderhill in December for the weather. This race separates the racers from the posers. It is 25 hours of decision making behind the wheel and behind pit wall. We started this four years ago as a fun factory guy versus dealer challenge, and now it has evolved into an amazing team effort with some of our greatest ambassadors, testing our latest production-based racecars, with Mazda employees behind the pit wall. We’re pleased to have Scott Clark, the COO from Michelin, joining us this year, further supporting the long and deep Mazda Michelin/BFG relationship. The goal this weekend is to go fast, have fun, and not freeze to death.”
The Thunderhill team will consist of three Mazda MX-5 Cup racecars, the exact cars that debuted at Thunderhill last year.
The Mazda driver line-up is as follows: Taz Harvey, Dublin Mazda (Dublin, Calif.); Richard Fisher, Autobarn Mazda (Chicago, Ill.); Spencer Brockman, Mazda of Milford (Milford, Mass.); Michael Brockman, Mazda of Milford (Milford, Mass.); Mark Abouzeid Chico Mazda (Chico, Calif.); Ben Robertaccio, Morrie’s Mazda (Minnetonka, Minn.); CJ Wilson, CJ Wilson Mazda (Chicago, Ill.); Camden Jones, Velocity Mazda (Tyler, Texas); Tom Bogar, Autex Mazda (Keene, N.H.); Scott Clark, Michelin/BFG; Liam Dwyer and Stevan McAleer of the Freedom Autosport racing team.
Johannes van Overbeek has won the 25 overall four times. Normally you would find him in the ESM Prototype racing at Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans or Fuji. He will be competing in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Audi R8 with teammates Darren Law, Dion von Moltke and Mike Hedlund.
“The 25 hour is a throwback race which makes it unique,” van Overbeek said. “For anyone who has worked their way up the racing ladder, as I did, the 25 Hour is a great reminder of the passion, competition and dedication at the club level. I’ve been lucky to win the race four times overall and I’ll be striving for my fifth, which nobody has ever accomplished. The task will be made easier by working with Flying Lizard, Toyo Tires and Audi.
The 25 hour is really a race against yourself. You make thousands of passes, mostly at night and in all kinds of weather. No matter how fast your car is, if you make one mistake you’re finished. Every year I’ve won the race, save one, our car didn’t have a mark on it. As the saying goes, ‘clean cars win races.’ Having said that, there are some quick drivers and prototype class cars that will be crewed by pros. This year might be the most competitive year yet. I can’t wait to get to work with Darren, Dion and Mike.”
The 2015 E1 Class champions Grip Racing are coming back with two BMW’s. Team owner Jason Vein takes a unique approach to filing the seats in his BMWs by inviting competitors that he competes against the rest of the year to drive his cars at the 25.
“For the 25 we team up and work together with drivers we normally compete against,” said Jason Vein, team owner. “We learn from each other, so we can all be stronger during the race and the next season. We have a great group of drivers including: Chuck Hurley, Andrew Newell, Mason Filippi, Eric Sidebotham, Mark Drennan, C. Jason Vein, Bruce Trenery, Andrew Wait, Dean Mansour, Andrei Kisel and Jeff McGunniss. Completing the race with as little time on pit lane as we can is always the goal. Racing the clock for as many laps as we can get. There are a lot of great teams in the class and we look forward to giving it all we can. We are replacing most of the moving parts on the car so it is as fresh as we can get it so we are ready for this weekend.”
Coming off its first full year of competition, the NASA Prototype élan NP01with Mazda power is coming full circle. Last year the car ran by NASA’s own Jeremy Croiset, won its class at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The team is making a special veteran’s racing effort this year. A number of the crew will be made up of veterans that will come together for the first time to work as a team toward the overall goal of tackling this grueling race.
“The car has received a few upgrades since last year,” Croiset said. “We have upgraded uprights, rear lower wishbones, a stronger front splitter and upgraded axles. The car now has a full season of hard racing under its belt and we learned a ton of tremendously valuable information in last year’s NASA 25. Driving this year will be Jason Ricker, Tomas Woods, Aaron Meyer, Jaime Florence, and myself. First goal is finishing the race. You can’t do anything in this event without finishing. We want to win the NASA Prototype class, but would also love to shoot for an overall podium. The competition is really stout this year and they will make it tough for us.”
“My Toyo Tires NASA Prototype élan NP01 is being stabled under Diamond Level Motorsports who has prepped and will manage the car for the race,” Croiset continued. “Something special one of our drivers is spearheading this year revolves around a veteran’s initiative. Tom Woods is a veteran himself that also works with veterans returning from combat. The ideal is to promote healing and rehabilitation through teamwork and there isn’t a better race in the world to use as a backdrop.”
Professional drivers listed on the entry include: Bryan Herta, Colton Herta, Ryan Eversley, Al Unser Jr., Sean Rayhall, Dion von Moltke, Colin Braun, Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law, Tommy Sadler, Darren Law, Tyler McQuarrie, Kelly Collins and Taz Harvey with more expected.
More information can be found on the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill website: https://nasa25hour.com/.
Media guide can be found at: https://nasa25hour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Thunderhill-Media-Guide-2016.pdf
Teams, cars and classes: https://nasa25hour.com/2016-teams-cars-and-classes/
Driver line-up: https://nasa25hour.com/2016-driver-line-up/