The 25 Hours of Thunderhill is always a testament to the value of persistence, but that was especially true in E1 in 2017. Any one of the three podium finishers easily could have thrown in the towel at given points along the way, but their dedication paid off.
Let’s begin with third-place Das Boot Motorsports. The team rolled its car in practice. Rather than going home, the team sourced another car in San Diego, a 9.5-hour drive from Thunderhill Raceway. In the minutes leading up to the start, the team was already racing to finish prepping the car, and as the cars rolled away from their grid positions, Das Boot was still in the paddock. They finally made it out behind the tow trucks during the two-lap pace session. They fought through that harrowing start, penalties and a last-ditch splash-and-dash for fuel, barely missing second to finish third in class and 19th overall.
“We fought our way to first a couple of times, lost it a couple of times due to penalties and mistakes, but the team really hung in there, kept fighting,” said driver John Capestro-Dubets.
Das Boot had been battling Team MooreWood Racing, which had to stop late Sunday morning to change front rotors and pads.
“For 25 hours, I’d been computing the fuel numbers, so I knew what was in there,” said crew chief Dan Riley, who had been up for 36 hours. “We knew it had to happen sometime. We just didn’t know when. So we said, ‘Let’s not waste another seven minutes behind the pit wall doing a brake job. Let’s put it with something else.’ So, we just kept pushing and pushing and we ran the pads down to the metal.”
The plan paid off because MooreWood and Das Boot both finished on lap 669.
At the front, Trim Tex Racing had qualified on the E1 pole, but it lost a lap on the start when Britt Casey Jr. spun on the pace lap and was penalized when he tried to drive back to the spot where he was gridded. The team kept its cool through all the pit stops and even when the car lost fifth gear.
“It took us seven hours to get back into the lead,” Casey Jr. said. “We didn’t have any penalties on pit lane at all. We just had that one at the beginning, so we ran a clean race. We maintained tires, brakes and cooling. We lost fifth, so just for the last three hours we were stuck in fourth and just putted around. We had a good cushion by that point. We didn’t really have to push.”