NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Pure Performance
For many road racers, endurance racing stands as one of the pinnacles of Motorsports challenge. Mention the 24 Hours of Le Mans to even the uninitiated and one will receive, at minimum, a respectful nod in acknowledgement of the magnitude of the undertaking. The physical and mental preparation and the level of organization it takes to finish, let alone achieve success, is tremendous.
Following this year’s 11th running of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill we wanted to provide an insider’s view of what it takes to compete (and complete) one of the less talked about but more difficult endurance races in existence. We sat down with Daniel Wennerberg, owner of Pure Performance in Laguna Niguel, CA who has competed at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill seven times; three as driver/support for another team and four under the banner of his own shop. Daniel races a BMW E46 M3 in NASA’s GTS4 and ST3 class (where he finished runner up this year) and competes in the EO class at NASA 25 Hours in the same vehicle. His passion for 25 Hours can only be described as an addiction.
Since Daniel hands the reigns over to his crew chief Ivan Zwart once the green flag drops, we also spoke with Ivan about how the unplanned events affect the team’s strategy. They met when Daniel was working at Bullet Performance which built Ivan’s first racecar, a BMWCCA IP for Ivan’s son Joshua.
The account that follows describes the experience in Daniel’s own words, and he offers some sage advice for anyone who is considering taking on the challenge.
I’ve done the 25 Hours of Thunderhill as owner/driver four times and 3 times being on a crew. I’ve had all 2nd place finishes except for one DNF in 2012 when a fuel pump failed, detonating #1 to death. We blew a head gasket with three hours to go and until then we were in the lead for the entire race. We were battling lap to lap with the Hankook/El Diablo BMW, and they prevailed. We were pitted next to one another. There’s a reason for that (smiling). We like to keep an eye on one another (laughs)! We are fierce competitors on the track but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give them to help them out and I’m sure they feel the same way. You don’t want to be ‘that guy’. I’ve told the El Diablo guys before that if they need anything just go in the truck and take it. To me, that’s the spirit of racing.