Monday, December 12, 2016

One Single Entrant Was P1 For The 14th Version Of The USAF 25 Hours Of Thunderhill

The Diamond Level Motorsports ENP Class Elan NP01. Image Credit: Myles Regan - Reagan Digital Images (2016)

One Single Entrant Was P1 For The 14th Version Of The USAF 25 Hours Of Thunderhill

The one entrant that was able to start, run, and finish the 2016 USAF 25 Hours Of Thunderhill Presented By Hawk Performance was a new prototype challenge car developed by NASA and prepared by Diamond Level Motorsports 2016 - Elan NP01 White/Blue #71 - Drivers: Scott Meyer, Thomas Woods, Aaron Meyer, Jason Ricker, Jaime Florence, & Jeremy Croiset. This was because this was the only car to be entered into the new ENP Class competing against six (6) other classifications in a total starting field of 58 cars.

Minute one of the 1,500 minute timed race that begins its forteenth run at Thunderhill Raceway Park as the eventual P1 finisher and teammate from Flying Lizard Motorsports lead the pack through Turn 1. Race action video here - by Adam Heaney (2016). Image Credit: Myles Regan - Regan Digital Images (2016)

The Diamond Level Motorsports ENP Class Elan NP01 did very well for a first time out on a 25 hour endurance race finishing in an overall position at P6 and only 50 laps behind the 2-time winner, the ES Class Winner - #45 TOYO Tires / Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi - Drivers: Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Dion von Moltke, & Michael Hedlund.

It's been said that success in auto racing can be measured in cubic inches and cubic dollars but Diamond Level Motorsports challenged conventional wisdom with two new metrics for the success formula: Cubic Heart and Cubic Grit - Adam Heaney FB Page. Image Credit: Myles Regan - Reagan Digital Images (2016)

The most unique endurance race in modern motor culture was an end of racing season idea that got its start 14 years ago. Actually, it had been an idea of the founders of the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) from when they first formed in 1991, hosting high performance driving events.

Night falls around the rolling hill cow pastures at Thunderhill as the cars continue to challenge the odds. Image Credit: Myles Regan - Regan Digital Images (2016)

As the story is told - the two founders, Ali Arsham and Jerry Kunzman, had dreams to have a truly noteworthy endurance challenge. After hosting several 12 hour endurance events, “We got to a point where we knew that some year very soon, it would be time to move on to a 24 hour event,” said Ali Arsham. “The popularity was awesome, and the work to put on one of these [12 hour] events became easy and lacked a challenge for us.”

During an off-site banquet in honor of the 2002 running of the Timex 12 Hours of Thunderhill, Jerry Kunzman decided to announce that next year would see the race be expanded to 24 hours. On his way to the podium, he thought to himself, “Why not 25 hours.” A new event was born, the longest closed road race in U.S. history. “I was feeling pretty good at dinner and it just seemed obvious to me that it was time to announce this,” said Kunzman. “In hind sight, I probably should have checked with the track before we made the announcement.”

Thomas Woods climbs in for a driver change at 19 hours into 25 hr. race, 62 teams and currently running in 6th. "The only cars in front of us have 300-400 more horsepower and race budgets approximately $1,000,000 more than ours," mentioned Woods on Facebook. "You can buy horsepower!! if this amazing event and the success of it all doesn't generate corporate sponsorship for next season...then I don't know what will!! Without a doubt, this event was a life changing endeavor for the Combat Veterans that were involved." Image Credit: Adam Heaney (2016)

Kunzman was determined, and the Hawk Performance 25 Hours of Thunderhill went off as planned, but not without great effort and support from the track’s CEO, David Vodden. The first running of the event took place Dec. 6-7, 2003. The field of 77 teams watched from the grid on the front straight while the opening ceremonies included a flyover by two Air Force F15 Fighters, something that would become a yearly event tradition.

Throughout it's growth, NASA worked to have many classes of racing platforms be in the mix to the point that this endurance race may have the most diverse field of full bodied cars in competition for the full two rounds of a clock ... plus, that one defining, and to some, pesky, hour.

Most teams with any prayer of placing in the Top 10 at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance would begin preparing a year in advance, this team merely had a concept 4 months prior to the drop of the green flag. The idea was to run an Elan NP01 Prototype car with a rag tag team of volunteer crew members supported by Military Veterans who learned to change race car tires 2 days before the start of the race - Adam Heaney FB Page. Image Credit: Myles Regan - Regan Digital Images (2016)

Enter the USAF 25 Hours Of Thunderhill Presented By Hawk Performance Version 14 and the advent of the NASA supported prototype the NASA NP01 Built by √Član powered by a Sealed Mazda 2.0 Liter MZR Engine with Dry Sump (Approx. 185 HP). Its first year of competition was 2016 and it seemed only right to have at least one representative of the new series compete and develop an understanding of how well this new platform fared in a true endurance environment.

#Diamondmotorsports was out-gunned and out-spent, sandwiched in the pits between professional race teams with the likes of #AlUnserJr #BryanHerta #RynoRacing and #FlyingLizardsRacing #JohanesvanOverbeek and #COP #TomDyer. However, Diamond Level Motorsports was not out-classed as evidenced by superb effort of every single crew member, regardless of their experience - Adam Heaney FB Page. Image Credit: Myles Regan - Reagan Digital Images (2016)

"Wow," Jeremy Croiset said. "I am almost speechless. The NASA elan Prototype NP01 powered by Mazda ran flawlessly. For me personally this is a total vindication of the program. I knew this car was capable of what we achieved today. We had zero mechanical issues. Not a single complication the entire 25 hours. If that isn't a seal of approval on the NASA prototype project I don't what is. We finished the most grueling race in the world without a single mechanical flaw. A huge thanks to Toyo Tires, Vet Sports, Bylight, Fisher House and of course Diamond Level Motorsports who prepared the car. It was an amazing effort. A massive thanks to everyone at Elan Motorsports."
(quote ht: nasagreatlakes)

The NASA Prototype series became new classification to NASA in 2016 by fielding 24 cars available to race in two individual championships, the Atlantic Series Championship and the Pacific Series Championship. This aided NASA to expand their history of delivering affordable local racing into purpose built prototype style cars. The NASA Prototype series was built around the new √Član NP01 chassis designed from the ground up to be quick, safe, reliable, and inexpensive to operate.

Race finish video can be seen here with this NP01 appearing at 20:15 - 22:45  - by Diamond Level Motorsports (2016). Image Credit: Myles Regan - Regan Digital Images (2016)

Next year will prove to be the first full year of a concept that can be run with full confidence as one shake-down year is in the books and one Diamond Level Motorsports prepared platform completing the "25" against cars with $1,000,000 plus budgets and 300+ horsepower finishing in the five positions ahead of them. Congradulations to the drivers - Jeremy Croiset (NAPA NP01 creator) - Las Vegas, NV - Pacific Series/2016 Season P3 | Atlantic Series/2016 Season P4 | Jaime Florence - San Rafael, California - E3 P1 co-driver - No. 40 RA Motorsports Mazda Miata | Scott Meyer - Rocklin, CA | Jason Ricker - Rocklin, CA | Aaron Meyer - Rocklin, CA | Thomas Woods - Combat Veterans.

2017 Schedule:

Pacific Series:

Race 1,2       March 18-19      Willow Springs
Race 3,4       April 22-23       Buttonwillow Raceway
Race 5,6       May 27-28         Circuit of the Americas
Race 7,8       June 17-18         Sonoma Raceway Sears Point
Race 9,10     August 4-6        Utah Motor Campus
Race 11,12    October 6-8      Thunderhill Raceway

North Atlantic Series:

Race 1,2      March 18-19        NCM Motorsports Park
Race 3,4      April 22-23         Mid Ohio Sports Car Course
Race 5,6      May 27-28           Circuit of the Americas
Race 7,8      July 8-9                New Jersey Motorsports Park
Race 9,10    September 9-10  Autobahn Country Club
Race 11,12   October 20-22     Sebring International Raceway

South Atlantic Series:

Race 1,2       March 18-19     NCM Motorsports Park
Race 3,4      April 28-29       Texas World Speedway
Race 5,6      May 27-28         Circuit of the Americas
Race 7,8      July 27-29         Barber Motorsports Park
Race 11,12   October 20-22  Sebring International Raceway
(ht: NASA)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: USAF, 25 Hours Of Thunderhill, Hawk Performance, Pacific Series, North Atlantic Series, South Atlantic Series, ENP Class, Elan NP01, Mazda, Motorsports Journal, Myles Regan, Regan Digital Images, The EDJE