Gary Sheehan drove the BMW M3 from fourth on the starting grid, and made a move late in the last lap that gave him the win in the Touring Car class at Thunderhill.

The Sheehan/Arsham partnership resulted in another win in the Touring Car class with Daniel Akhromstev pulling out a dominant victory in the GT class at Thunderhill Raceway. The Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship racers visited one of their favorite tracks with the NASA playing host to the championship.

Gary Sheehan drove three of the four Wheels racecars during the weekend to score the victory. He started out with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Sheehan managed to qualify on pole position, but the car developed an intermittent electrical problem so the team was not confident that the car would be a good option for the race. The team elected to toss out their pole position and start out from the back of the field in their No. 35 BMW M3, which was to be driven by Larry Bani. Sheehan managed to finish in fifth place after starting out in the back of the field. The team spent the rest of Saturday night driving back to their base and brought back their No. 34 BMW M3. The car needed some work to be ready and legal, and the team got the car ready for qualifying with minutes to spare on Sunday where Sheehan managed to qualify fourth. From there it was a matter of tuning the car to get it ready for the race.

At the start of the main race, Sheehan had a heart-dropping moment as Jason Alexandridis stalled the Performance Technic BMW M3 and was almost rear ended by the BMW of Sheehan. Sheehan avoided the collision but that dropped Sheehan down a few positions and Alexandridis, who had qualified in second place, dropped down to last place.

Taking full advantage of everything was Larry Bani in the UTI/ Konig Wheels BMW M3 who jumped from fifth place to second place by Turn 1. He was followed by Curt Simmons, who was substituting for the second race in a row for the injured Pete Bovenberg in the MBO Motorsport Honda Civic. Bani was in second right behind pole sitter Mike Sekhon driving the BTM Motorwerks BMW M3. Sekhon, starting from pole position for the first time in his short USTCC career, made no errors and did a great start to lead the first lap with Bani behind.

On lap two, Bani went wide at the exit of Turn 5 and that allowed Simmons to sneak by and take over second place. A few minutes later team orders came into play as Bani moved over to allow his teammate Sheehan who was in first place in the driver’s championship to take over third place. Sheehan passed Simmons a few laps later going into Turn 1 and was now in second position. For the next 20 minutes, Sheehan was just focused on turning some quick laps to catch Mike Sekhon, who was still leading. With one lap to go, the gap was down to less than a car length and Sheehan was pressuring Sekhon but Sekhon was not giving up. Finally on the last lap Sekhon missed a shift allowing Sheehan to get through at Turn 11 and take the win. Sheehan was overjoyed after a very difficult weekend.

“We were in close formation for several laps and I tried a couple of moves that didn’t stick,” Sheehan said. “Mike missed his downshift to third entering 10 and had a brief moment of no drive at the apex, which was enough for me to get the overlap I needed. I drove deep into 11 and Mike gave me room and I was through.”

Simmons was running in third place during most of the race but ended up running out of fuel with one lap to go which put Bani on the podium in third place in the Touring class.

In the GT class, Brad McClure started on pole position in the BTM Motorwerks Porsche 911 but was passed by Daniel Akhromstev in his Red Star Racing BMW M3. The two were bumper to bumper for several laps, but McClure went off at the slippery exit of Turn 5 which allowed Akhromstev to build a huge lead that he held to the end. McClure ended up finishing in second place with Andrie Hartanto’s Wicked Tuning/Supertech Honda S2000 finishing in third position.

“The BTM crew did an excellent job preparing the Porsche but we definitely have our homework to do to get a little bit more power to give the BMW M3 a fight for the long run,” McClure said after the race. “So we have our work cut out for us but we are definitely going to continue to try.”

At the press conference after the race, Sheehan summed things this way: “This was a race that we won based strictly on teamwork with Larry being generous enough to let me use both of his cars. It kept the team in contention and put us in a position to win the race when it could have been the worst of all results”

Podium finishers are all smiles and champagne at the USTCC event at Thunderhill Raceway.
Podium finishers are all smiles and champagne at the USTCC event at Thunderhill Raceway.

Special Awards


Wine Country Motorsports

Doug Makishima won the Wine Country Motor Sports gift certificate by finishing in sixth place in his Mazdaspeed 3.


Go Pro

The winner in each class wins a new GoPro action camera. The lucky winners were the team of Sheehan/Arsham, the winner of the Touring class, and Daniel Akhromstev, the winner of the GT class.


Advanced Clutch Technology

Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT) makes some of the best clutches in the business and the ACT award went to Brad McClure who was fighting for first place in the GT class when he went a little wide but still managed to finish in second place.



Mario Lento won the Airaid award winning a free Airaid air intake system of his choice for coming back to finish in fifth place on Sunday after almost destroying his car on Saturday.



CRC products are the official chemicals of USTCC and Gary Sheehan received a huge assortment pack of CRC products by winning the CRC Award.


Disc Brake Australia

DBA brake rotors are legendary with their kangaroo paw vents. Winning the DBA award was newcomer Michael Whelden who along with the award received a set of the DBA high performance rotors.


Iron X

The winner of the Sportsman class wins a free Iron X action camera at every USTCC race. Larry Bani was the winner of the Sportsman class and took home a beautiful Iron X action camera.


Rescue Tape

Rescue Tape is a revolutionary silicone repair tape that can save your race by fixing small leaks. Everyone needs to have one in their toolbox and the award this time went to Karl Chicca.


Ironclad Performance Crew

The Ironclad Performance Crew award went to the Life’s Good Racing team for their hard work to get the broken Mitsubishi to start the race and collect valuable points after a big crash on Saturday bent most of the suspension on the Mitsubishi. Chris Hovey earned a box full of Ironclad’s gloves for the team.


Le Mans Karting Seat Time Award

The Le Mans Karting Seat Time award went to Becky Arsham who finished in ninth place in her Honda Civic. Arsham now has a $100 certificate to go to the best indoor go kart facility in California.


Mothers Clean Car

The Mothers Clean Car award went to Michael Sekhon’s BMW M3 with a beautiful graphics and shiny paint job. He earned a complete car cleaning kit full of Mothers products.


Ooma Technology

The Ooma Technology communications award went to Gary Sheehan who managed to win the TC class with great teamwork and communications and used a record three different cars during the weekend leading up to the main race. Sheehan won the Ooma Telo unit giving him unlimited free lifetime phone calls anywhere in the US and Canada.


Optima Battery Ultimate Power Source

The top three in Touring Car were Arsham/Sheehan in first place, Mike Sekhon in second place and Larry Bani in third place. The top three in GT were Daniel Akhromstev in first place, Brad McClure in second place and Andrie Hartanto in third place. Each driver won a free Optima Battery for his hard work.


Perma-Cool Cool Move of the Race

The Perma-Cool Cool Move of the Race was won by Andrie Hartanto who stormed to the front with a fantastic drive with zero mistakes to finish third in a tough environment. Hartanto won a $200 gift certificate for his actions.



PIAA’s LED lights are amazingly bright and they draw much less power than conventional lights. A very bright performance by Karl Chicca during the race means that he now sits in second place in the season championship. Chicca earned a set of PIAA’s LED lights for his hard work.


Powerbuilt Tools

The Powerbuilt Tools award went to Jason Alexandridis who was disqualified during the Saturday race and still managed to put the car on the front row for the Sunday race. Unfortunately, his race did not go as planned as he stalled the car at the start but now he has a new Powerbuilt professional torque wrench to use at the next race and he managed to finish in fourth place after all that.


Race Ramps

The Race Ramps award is certainly one of the most popular awards that the drivers shoot for. Larry Bani offered his primary car to his teammate to race when his teammate’s car suffered electrical problems. Bani knew his teammate was in the points lead and needed the best equipment to maintain the points lead. That is great sportsmanship and team work. He won a $300 certificate towards the purchase of a set of Race Ramps.


Sampson Racing Award

Sampson Radio Communications award went to Curt Simmons, who was running in second place in the TC class for most of the race, but ended up running out of fuel on the last lap. He won a $100 gift certificate that the team can use for team communications equipment.


Specialty Products Company

Daniel Akhromstev has a fast car and he proved it as he lapped most of the field. He now has a Fastrax camber and caster gauge to help them set up the chassis on their car and go even quicker.


Swift Spring Award

Andrie Hartanto’s team is still working on their Honda S2000 to get more power. But it was a braking issue that caused them problems during the race. Swift decision making during the race gave them a third place finish in the GT class and he earned a free pair of Swift springs.


Whiteline Performance Suspension

Whiteline Performance makes some terrific suspension components and Mike Sekhon earned a $300 gift certificate for Whiteline Suspension products to improve his chances at the next race.


Hawk Performance Brakes – GT Award 

Daniel Akhromstev came back to win from behind and won himself a new set of Hawk Performance brake pads.


Hawk Performance Brakes – TC Award
Larry Bani got off to a great start after missing a session and worked out some technical issues. He finished third and looked rock solid. He won a set of Hawk Performance brake pads for his efforts.

Image courtesy of Reza Arsham

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