With the fastest car heading into the 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance, Crowdstrike by Riley team owner Bill Riley was confident in his team and in the equipment, but he knew a lot could change during the course of the race.
The team fought through light rain and a four-hour fog delay to dominate the 19th running of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill on Sunday. The team, which was the runner-up in 2021, ended the race with a 86-lap lead over second-place finisher MooreWood Creative White, one of the bigger gaps between first and second place in the history of the event.
“It’s Thunderhill, you know, rain, cold mud, and the CrowdStrike by Riley team just did a fantastic job. Fantastic driver lineup with Colin and Felipe and Matt, and it’s 10 years in the making,” said driver George Kurtz. “It’s been a lot of P2’s and finally, we get the overall victory. So, we’re really happy. We had a little bit on the sound that we had to work on, and some heat issues, and we had a panel go bad, but the team did a fantastic job. The car was just about flawless for 25 hours almost.”
After a fog delay from 5:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., the race went green only to get red flagged again around noon while safety workers rounded up a car stranded in Turn 1. By that time, Crowdstrike by Riley already had the race lead well in hand, and went on to take the win.
After finishing second the last two years, Dig Motorsports broke through and won the E0 class at 25 Hours of Thunderhilll.
While Dig Motorsports won its class by 31 laps over Tazio Ottis Racing, the race was much closer, with both teams trading leads overnight. Tazio Ottis suffered a gearbox failure that gave Dig Motorsports the separation it needed for the victory.
“I’ve had multiple people come up and say that’s probably the best E0 race they’ve seen at 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 10 years,” said team owner Jeremy Cuthbertson, who was quick to recognize Tazio Ottis Racing for being great competition and great sportsmen. “We just went for the win, but it came close at the end. We were chewing our nails because it came down to fuel between the Honda and us.”
The Dig Motorsports Ford Mustang finished tenth overall. Tazio Ottis Racing finished second of two in E0.
The Honda Racing team hadn’t won at 25 Hours of Thunderhill since 2013, but the team had a dream weekend with the two Honda Civic cars finishing first and second in the E1 Class, and third and fourth overall.
“With all the resources we have and all the technical knowledge, we expect to do a little bit better, but then obviously racing is so unpredictable,” said team principal Lawrence Hwang. “We keep building new cars to help the company promote new models, so it’s difficult for us to develop new cars.”
The Honda team consists of volunteers from Honda facilities around the United States. The team included engineers, accountants and marketing people.
“Honda associates are doing this in their spare time, so we’re really fortunate because no one is paid to do this. This is all basically passion driven,” Hwang said.
Just three laps separated the Honda Racing THRW1 and THRW2 cars. Trackspec Autosports finished third in the E1 class and ninth overall.
The E2 contest was the race of the race, and Team MooreWood Creative White took the E2 lead about four hours into the race, after changing an engine on Friday. MooreWood Creative White held the lead over second place Palomar Racing Thunder, which held onto second place till the last hour of the race, when an engine that was slowly losing power began to severely handicap Palomar’s lap times.
Palomar tried everything to hold onto second place, including have its sister car, the No. 24 Palomar car, push it around the track to give it greater straightaway speeds. That worked till the last 15 minutes of the race when MooreWood Creative/Bay City Electric took over the second place spot, relegating Palomar Racing Thunder to finish third.
“Yeah, it was one hell of a race. We were trying strategy on different ends to make this all happen and Palomar tried everything out of their book to keep their place and it was one long hell of a race,” said crew chief Justin Ross of Magic Developed, which developed the cars. “It was a great drive by Tony Domenici right at the very end to make sure that we got that spot and we’ll take one-two for the second year in a row and second and fifth overall. So yeah, nothing to complain about there.”
The old adage in endurance racing is to protect the car so you have something to hand off to your co-driver, and that’s exactly what Lesher Motorsports did — for 25 hours. No small feat. When the race was over, the car was covered in filth, but all body panels were present and accounted for and as straight as they were when the race began.
“You have to drive all 25 hours to win. So probably the most important thing was keeping it away from other cars, keeping it away from walls and things that don’t move,” said driver Benjamin Sloss. “And, you know, you give up half a second here and there, right? But you finish all your laps, and you end up setting a really good time.”
Lesher Motorsports 15 finished 11th overall. Misfits Racing finished second in E3, with Lesher Motorsports 54 coming in third in E3.
Starting and finishing the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is an accomplishment. Finishing two consecutive 25 Hours of Thunderhill in an electric car is next level.
That’s what the Sacramento, Pa.,-based Entropy Racing team accomplished, winning its EM class (sole entry) and finishing 17th overall, turning 1,341 miles over the weekend.
“We’ve developed this car and this driveline as far as it can go. It was never intended for this level of abuse or use,” said team owner and driver Charlie Greenhaus. “We really think that the only real future for EVSR, specifically, is to partner with somebody that understands the technology.”
By the time the race had ended, the Ageless Bio Racing NP01-EVO looked like it had been through a lot. Caked with mud on the splitter and streaked with brake-dusted water stains, the Ageless Bio Racing team had performed more than its share of repairs over the course of the event. At the end, they had completed 369 laps on the way to an unopposed win in ENP and a 23rd-place overall finish.
A late-night trip off track on Turn 7 knocked Three Thieves Racing out of the running for the overall podium, but the team won its first ES class and finished seventh overall.
Initially it was thought the Audi R8 had a brake failure, but it was a driver error that caused the car to go off track and deep into the mud, said Martin Sarukhanyan of Three Thieves Racing. The team lost a starter in the middle of the night, so the team had to leave the car running or push-start it.
“That set us off the track about 300 feet and it took I think like 40 minutes to dig out,” Sarukhanyan said. “We dragged the car over to the hose over and dug out probably like 80 pounds of mud. Everybody was cleaning it for probably 25 minutes.”
Even with the setback, the team finished seventh overall completing 553 laps and completing more than 1,600 miles over the 25-hour race.
The GT race looked all but settled late into the race, but with less than an hour left to go, Modified Racing took the GT class lead from Kleen Blast/Davids Racing Products, which had held the lead for 95 percent of the event. All but a couple of the hourly timing and scoring updates show Modified Racing in second place, but it’s the very last hourly update that matters most. When the checkers flew, it was Modified Racing taking the GT class win.
“You know, a lot of things happen in a 25-hour race for sure. And we had a lot of problems up front, and they had theirs little later on. So, you know, fortunate for us, but unfortunate for Tim and Mike,” said driver Mike Beeler. “We’re running Tim’s car that he had run here previously, so now we’re running it and we just thank them for getting us here and getting us into this sport.”
Modified Racing finished 18th overall. Team Kleen Blast/David’s Racing Products finished second in GT and 21st overall.