2009 Thunderhill 25 Hour Enduro Summary


After that last update there was nothing else to update on since the car was retired due to the broken lower A-arm mount at the tub after 9.5 hours and 24X (two hundred forty something) laps. Unfortunately the team had 4 of everything except the part that broke. The track machine shop's lathe wasn't able to cut metric threads and they nobody had a M14x2.0 die either. It was unfortunate that the car was retired since the BMC Tool Panoz was the fastest car on the track. Not only did it qualify on pole, but Dino, Sean, and Erich were able to crank out consistently quicker lap times than the ALMS Porsche entries one of which eventually won the race. In fact, there were only 3 leaders during the entire race: the Ehret Winery ALMS Porsche GT3, the Patron ALMS Porsche GT3, and the BMC Tool Racing Panoz DP-02. It was good to know that in a sprint race, the Panoz would have done really well against these two Porsches with factory Porsche drivers from Germany and RSR engines.

Overall I had a great time. I was fortunate enough to go to Thunderhill with a somewhat properly funded team (there was a limited budget) with the goal of winning. I'm too old to be doing it because I love it with a poorly funded team. That might have been 15 years ago. If I'm going to put the time and effort in with a team, car, and engine, we have to have a chance of winning. Now that I have broken my enduro virginity, here are some random thoughts on enduros:

  • It is was WAY too damn cold for any person to be outside in November 2 hours north of Sacramento, CA. The wind made it truly bone chilling. When you're out in the mountains snowboarding it's cool because you are moving around. When you are staring at a computer monitoring the telemetry screen sitting on your ass, you're pretty much fucked. I had on 7 layers: wife beater, t-shirt, team fleece, team jersey, jacket, and wind breaker. I had my snowboarding socks on and a beenie. YOU MUST BRING THERMAL UNDERWEAR to this event.
  • I was able to continually develop the engine calibration and get every last drop of fuel mileage over the two test days and even during the 9.5 hours of the race the car was in. Fuel mileage kept getting better and better as I cranked out the fuel saving strategies. I was acting DAG (data acquisition guy) although I really am just an engine guy. I cannot express how instrumental Mark_F was to helping me get the telemetry, dash, and logger setup. Thanks Mark!
  • The 25 hours of Thunderhill is basically a club racing event with some race cars present. I think some teams use the event as a reliability test for their cars, driving training, and some pro teams are there just for shits and giggles since the racing seasons are over. Basically everybody is there to have a good time which provides a great vibe. Everybody is pretty friendly.
  • Anybody can win. Last year an MX-5 won outright. On that note, anything can happen in an endurance race. You can break down, fix the car in the pits for a couple hours, bring it out again and still win the event. That didn't happen this year since the Porsches kept on going and going like Energizer bunnies though.
  • It's all about minimizing your pit stops and time spent in the pits. Every little thing adds up to a lot. For example, saving 20 seconds x 20 stops = 400 seconds or almost 7 minutes or roughly 4 laps over the course of 25 hours. Another example would be 7.8 vs. 7.9 miles per gallon: over the course of 2200 miles, you would be saving 525 miles of fuel or almost one fuel stop. It all adds up in an enduro. I saw teams changing tires in the pits. Why would you do this and not change them in the hot pit? Perhaps it's a different mind set when you aren't trying to win? EDIT: I forgot it was a class thing. Some classes are only allowed to change one tire in the hot pit to prevent baller teams from unlimited tire changes without penalty.
  • I think racing for 25 hours is a true testament to how well a car is built and packaged. I guess it proves the drivers are consistent too, but for me it's all about the cars. There are plenty of good drivers (or a dude on meth) who can drive 25hrs, but can a car last 25? Only the good ones (with some luck thrown in the mix). It's definitely a challenge for drivers too, but they're the ones behind the wheel having a blast. 

The BMC Tool Racing team was great to work with. There was TJ from tool who was acting team manager, MJ from the Atlantic series acting as crew chief, Gumby and Zumida from Atlantics wrenching, Kate from Star Mazda, Jason and David from Stop Tech brakes, me from Cosworth,  Honda (Robert) from Road Race Engineering, Tommy from San Pedro, Dave and Jamie from Tool, and of course the drivers Erich from Tool, Sean from BMC, and Dino from Stop Tech brakes. It was a fun experience and of course I wished we could have completed the 25 hours, but that's what next year has in store I hope. This year was practice for next year. It looks like we'll be showing up with a 450hp turbo engine next year (Mitsu 4B11T?). Big power, no wammies.

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