Winding Road Racing Takes the E0 Class Win at 25 Hours of Thunderhill

By Bradley Iger

December 09, 2013

It's with great pride that we congratulate to our own Team Winding Road for their first place finish in the E0 Class at the 25 hours of Thunderhill in the Winding Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S. The E0 class is the top class for cars that have some weight:power and other restrictions. The ES and ESR cars are effectively unlimited.

The No. 18 car was driven by Tom Martin Jr., Tom Martin III, Tom Brown and Brian Zander, who ran the car at better than target pace and kept the car on the track with no spins and very few bumps. There were a few near misses, mostly as they closed on slower cars at night and, apparently, surprised competitors by turning the apex into a white, red and black Boss 302. 
The Crew Chief for the race was Dave Wheeler of Advanced Autosports, ably assisted by the small crew of Brian Zellner, Evan Frank, Ann O'Malley, Mike Rooks, Natalie Martin, Tyler Brown and Kevin Bethke.  The pit crew executed 29 pit stops, with zero penalties and no mistakes. The E0-E3 classes at Thunderhill operate under rules limiting them to 10 gallons of fuel added and one tire changed per stop (ES and ESR can add more fuel, use fuel rigs etc). With that many stops to do, and with the necessity of managing tire wear over long periods (it can be six or more hours before a given tire gets changed), pit work is easily as big a factor as driving in this kind of race. Team Winding Road is not unusual among amateur teams in bringing together a group of people for pit work, some of whom are not experienced pit workers and in any case have not worked together before. Team owner Tom Martin Jr said "It is a testimony to Dave's leadership and expertise that he orchestrated our pit crew operations so well. Add to that a group of psyched and dedicated individuals on fuel, tires and mechanicals and the result is the consistently excellent work we saw. From the driver's seat it seemed like the car came in, fuel went down the funnel, the car was lifted, the car dropped down and the signal to go back was given. Seems simple, but in reality it was great work."
The car was also a big factor in the win. "Ford Racing's concept and Watson Racing's build quality obviously showed as soon as we took the car off the truck and got it on track last winter," said Martin Jr. "At the same time, the Boss 302S is built for a sprint series, Pirelli World Challenge GTS, so we had some work to do to turn the Boss into an endurance car. On top of that, we found that other Mustang racers have learned a ton about how to prepare the car. I come from high tech, so I was comfortable with a 'virtual team' concept, which we used successfully here. Gilfus Racing provided technical consulting on many matters big and small and helped us find other experts. We used Always Evolving Performance for suspension tuning, lighting, aero work and reliability systems. Cortex Racing worked some magic on suspension setup, and also designed the fuel and cooling system improvements we had to have. Advanced Autosports did the detailed setup and took care of communications and safety upgrades."
When it came to running the race, the team had a plan and was patient. "We started the race pretty well, though we dropped back in the overall standing a few places. Our goal was to focus initially on incident-free driving. Then we aimed at a target pace that we knew would put us toward the front if we could avoid mechanical issues. We ran to that pace, although to be honest some of our drivers 'needed' to run a bit faster to 'maintain a rhythm', so our speeds slowly improved. Tom Brown set our fastest lap time on something like lap 568, and that time took 2 seconds off our previous best practice lap.
The car was so well prepared by the team that we just about ran a flawless race. The only problem we had was a broken stud on one wheel. We were worried we would lose another stud which could have spelled disaster, so we did only one very careful tire change on that corner. Our competitors had a little trouble, we effectively had none, and here we are winners of our class," observed Martin Jr. "We didn't expect to do this well, so it feels amazingly good."
Team Pure Performance in the No. 67 BMW and the No. 37 car of Hankook/El Diablo Motorsports BMW rounded out the podium finishes in the E0 Class. Here are the results from the other classes running at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill this past weekend:
Top Three ES Class:
No. 24 Rotek Racing Audi TT RS
No. 83 Barrett Racing Porsche GT3 Cup
No. 8 GMG Motorsports Audi R8
Top Three ESR Class:
No. 38 Radical West Racing Radical
No. 48 Factory 48 Radical
No. 49 CSR Performance Spec Racer
Top Three E1 Class:
No. 27 Team Honda Research West Acura
No. 5 Fantasy Junction Acura
No. 55 Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 Dealers A
Top Three E2 Class:
No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata
No. 74 AAF BMW
No. 95 Team Spoon Honda CR-Z
Top Three E3 Class:
No. 23 RJ Racing
No. 05 949 Racing Mazda Miata
No. 36 Spare Parts Racing 2 Mazda Miata
You find additional details and stats from the race over at the official 25 Hours of Thunderhill site as well as a full list of hourly and final timing reports here.
Be sure to also check out our Countdown to Thunderhill blogs leading up to the race as well:
25 Hours Of Thunderhill Blog: The Why and The What
25 Hours Of Thunderhill Blog: The Car