A team led by high school students pulled off the win they have been seeking in E3S and gave team manager and teacher Al Angulo his first win in 17 attempts at 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
The Placer High School automotive tech teacher celebrated with the students on pit lane after they won by two laps over Lesher Motorsports in the deep field.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy for them,” said Angulo, fighting back tears. “I can’t wait to see the picture of these kids with their trophy and be able to haul that to the high school and say we kicked (butt) on some of the biggest teams in motor racing. It’s not about me, it’s about all of them.”
The students dumped a bucket of ice water on their teacher to celebrate the victory.
“They spent a lot of hours working on it, a lot of hours training,” Angulo said. “They would come in on Saturdays practicing our pit stops and to see them put it together to be here for that, it’s exciting for the school, exciting for them.”
To no one’s surprise, E3S was one of the closest races of the event. After 25 hours of racing, just six laps separated first from third. Two laps behind the leader, Lesher Motorsports finished second, just four laps over third place. Team principal Mark Hamilton Peters said every corner was often perilous and grip was questionable everywhere.
“You couldn’t trust that a corner that was grippy the last lap was going to be grippy the next lap. And in the night, you couldn’t see where there was mud, so you were driving by braille,” he said. “And a bunch of mud would had been brought on, and you just couldn’t see it. And, of course, with all the rooster tails of mud coming off the tires, the lights got coated right away, and that made it even harder to see. But it was difficult for everybody, so we were operating in an equal disadvantage, and it was still a wonderful experience.”
Four time champion RA Motorsports, which had the lead in its No. 40 car, kept blowing fuses and stopping the car on track, found its sister car, the No. 35 Miata, was running on three cylinders, yet still out on track turning laps. The effort netted the team third place, and it’s fifth podium in five years.
“They just kept plugging along, doing laps. In fact, they didn’t even know that the motor was hurt,” said RA Motorsports team owner Ron Gayman. “Only one of them noticed, he said. ‘That kind of sounds funny when you start it.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s okay. Remember we short shift.’ So by short shifting we were able to manage the motor.
“I guarantee you I have probably 30 pounds of compression in one cylinder and all the rest are fine. As long as we didn’t overheat it, I knew it would run. Sounds like crap, but it runs,” Gayman said. “And they just kept doing laps and a little bit of attrition there. We actually were right … we actually almost got P2, kind of toward the end, but we had our own penalties speeding in the pit crew, speeding in the pit lane.”