WRR Team Profile: Todd Therkildsen
By Winding Road Staff
March 17, 2016
Todd “Therk” Therkildsen moved to Winding Road Racing as our manager of Trackside Services in early 2016. In that role, Therk manages race car prep, transport, set up, data logging, coaching, maintenance and hospitality for Winding Road Racing (WRR) customers in the major series we run, including national club races, Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup and Pirelli World Challenge TC, TC-A and GTS.
Therk told us “The WRR arrive and drive (A&D) program is designed to allow customers to focus on racing by relieving them of the need to spend time on setup, repair, documentation and transport. For some busy customers, like corporate executives and professionals, an A&D program is what makes it possible to go racing at all. Otherwise, these folks simply don’t have the time to do all the work that is needed.” He pointed out that "For other customers, especially drivers who want to work on skill development, A&D means they can put all their attention on driving. When working with a coach and/or making intensive use of data, this freedom is very important. Especially in our pro series, we surround the driver with testing, coaching and data analysis opportunities and most drivers find that this is close to a full-time effort when added to their other obligations at the track."
Therk brings an impressive background to WRR. He comes from Elan Motorsport Technologies, where he worked on the DP02, DeltaWing and NP01 programs. He started at Elan as an engine builder and then supported engine development for the DeltaWing.
When Elan began developing the NP01 in conjunction with NASA, he moved to that program, working on development and testing. Once the NP01 was completed, he took charge of trackside customer support, travelling around the country to give customers an opportunity to test the first NP01s. In that role he also supported two customer teams running the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, where the new car completed 514 laps in its first race outing.
“Working on the DeltaWing and NP01 projects really got me fired up about supporting the overall quest to go faster. I love putting it all together, whether it is car set up, engine tuning or data analysis,” says Therk.
Like many racers, Todd was interested in racing from an early age. In the mid-90’s, his mother worked with a non-profit that had connections with an INDYCAR team running a car driven by Lyn St. James. Therk recalled, “I was 10, and I got a model of Lyn’s car and watched her race. I loved it, and I still have that model.”
Photo courtesy of LynStJames.com
Therk went into the military, which fed his interest in cars and mechanical engineering. He was a Tank Commander, where he led a team running two M88 Hercules armored recovery vehicles. Therk explained to us that the “the M88 sports a V-12 twin-turbo diesel making 1050 hp, which sounds cool, but the vehicle weighs 140,000 lb, which puts a damper on the fun.”
Photo courtesy of dmitryshulgin.com
Part of his military tour took him to Germany, where he owned an Alfa Romeo Spider and an Audi S3. He and his friends frequently went to the Nurburgring for hot lapping in those cars. They also were regular visitors to the local karting facility where they competed in Rotax TAG karts.
After leaving the army, Therk went to school to get his applied science degree, specializing in high performance engine building. Therk holds engine block, cylinder head, CNC and Mill certifications.
With those skills, he was hired at Elan prior to graduation. He commented that “I learned a lot at Elan, but one of the most surprising moments was when the company acquired the DeltaWing and we started testing with Katherine Legge. None other than Lyn St. James had helped Katherine in her racing career, so I felt a little bit like serendipity was working in my favor.”
During 2016, Therk was crew chief on Winding Road Team TFB's MX-5 Cup team. The team ran 6 cars in the series and won rookie-of-the-year honors. In addition, Winding Road Team TFB was one of only three teams to win multiple races. All of the team's drivers finished in the top 1/3 of the points standings, in what observers agreed was a very talented and deep field (e.g. 8 different drivers winning the 12 races). "Global MX-5 Cup is one of the most intense racing environments I have ever seen, and that includes IMSA, NASCAR and INDYCAR. The action is so close, deep into the field, for the entire race length pretty much every time. It is a great enviroment for driver development, which I love because that's what we're set up to do" said Therk.
During the year, Therk led the build of one of the first Elan NP01 prototypes and then supported the car in NASA events and at the NASA Eastern Championships. "Having worked on the NP01 during its development, it was great to build and run one of the cars. We've also applied our NP01 set-up expertise to several other cars in a effort to build the close competition that a spec series can deliver" he observed.
Therk also managed customer programs in Spec Iron and Spec Miata, as well as supporting Porsche GT3 Cup and an IMSA GT cars for vintage racing.
For the upcoming year, Winding Road Team TFB will be taking their hard-won expertise with the Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car to Pirelli World Challenge to compete in the TC-A class, while still running the full Battery Tender MX-5 Cup season with INDYCAR. Therk explained "We will also run the BMW M235i Racing, and possibly the Audi RS 3 LMS, in PWC TC/TC-R class, as part of our desire to offer clients a solid driver development ladder. We have been coaching in Pirelli World Challenge GTS, so this move is a natural progression that neatly coincides with changes in the car and BOP model that PWC supports."
To contact Therk to discuss Winding Road Racing's offerings: firstname.lastname@example.org