The 16th running of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance is attracting talented teams bringing new cars looking for that prized class win or a win overall. The twice-around-the-clock plus one-hour race is set to run Dec. 1-2, 2018.
Team Valkyrie Autosport is bringing two cars to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill this year. One is a 2010 Nissan 370Z that team owner Brian Lock said has been in the works for five years. The other is a 2009 Nissan GT-R that Valkyrie put together over the course of this past year, and was recently completed.
Team Valkyrie Autosport took first in E0 in 2016 in a Nissan 350Z and third in E0 in 2017 in the same car. Lock said they developed the GT-R for the ES class, but they’ll be campaigning both cars in the E0, and hoping to take two of three steps on the podium.
The GT-R will be tough competition in E0. All-wheel drive will make it a “beast in the rain,” Lock said, and it will be ideally suited to handling all the off-line driving that takes place among the mixed classes at the 25.
Team Valkyrie Autosport has been working closely with Toyo Tires in developing the cars, and will carry Toyo livery for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Lock said the durability of the Toyo Tires will be critical to its Nissan cars, which are a little heavier than many other E0 entries.
“We feel that our partnership with Toyo Tires this year and our use of its Proxes RR will not just level the playing field from a tire standpoint, but it will provide us the competitive advantage any team searches for,” Lock said. “We are really looking forward to the race this year!”
In the E2 class, Team HQ Autosport Racing is bringing a new car it built in the fall of last year, a 2008 BMW 128i, and has been campaigning it every event in the NASA Western Endurance Racing Challenge series this year. It’s good prep and shakedown for Thunderhill.
Team owner Rob Henretta and chief driver Paul Quattrocchi have been focused on logistics such as crew, travel arrangements, lodging and meals. They have Solely Bimmer in Mission Viejo, Calif., going through the car to get it ready. The shop is replacing fluids and parts and taking preventive measures to ensure the car can go 25 hours straight.
“We’ve built for the E2 class, so the modifications are very mild, which has helped with reliability and cost controls — as much as you can with any racecar,” Henretta said. “The car is easy to drive and very neutral.
“It’s starting to feel like Christmas around here,” Henretta continued. “Today alone I got six delivery pending notifications from FedEx and UPS as spares and supplies start to roll in.”
If you’re going to take on the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, it helps to have access to good hardware and a deep pool of talent. The Ford Performance Racing School at Utah Motorsports Campus is brimming with talented drivers, and this year the team is bringing some serious hardware.
Ford Performance Racing School president and team principal Dan McKeever has been preparing a new Ford Mustang FP350S for duty at Thunderhill this year. If you’re not familiar with the FP350S, it’s a factory-built racecar developed for racing in the Trans Am series.
The car comes with a 5.2-liter, 32-valve flat-plane V8 that redlines at 8,250 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed Tremec 3160, which delivers the power to a 3.73:1 rear axle with independent suspension. The engine is rated at 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque.
“Being that the car was delivered basically race ready, we only had to make a few modifications. The bigger things include a fuel cell with a dry break, new Recaro seat, and Michelin slicks on Signature wheels. We have lots of little things like decals, radios, auxiliary lights, etc. We did take the car to Thunderhill on Oct. 1 to shake it down and to do a little setup work. We’ll be practicing pit stops over the next few weeks.”
“Every team member, including drivers, is part of the school’s full time staff,” McKeever said. “For us, it’s a great team-building opportunity, but make no mistake, we’re there to win.”