Mustang Challenge Racers Strong at Thunderhill; Ford Mustang FR500S Machines take on endurance challenge Tooele, UT (10 December 2008) -- Between the well-received Sunday night premier of HD Theater's WHY WE RACE: THE MUSTANG CHALLENGE and a ...
Mustang Challenge Racers Strong at Thunderhill; Ford Mustang FR500S Machines take on endurance challenge
Tooele, UT (10 December 2008) -- Between the well-received Sunday night premier of HD Theater's WHY WE RACE: THE MUSTANG CHALLENGE and a strong Mustang Challenge presence in the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by the U.S. Air Force at Thunderhill Raceway in Willow, California, this past weekend was a big one for many in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup family.
Three Ford Mustang FR500S machines were entered in the race, with ten Mustang Challenge drivers participating in a field of nearly 300 drivers. The 25-hour race--billed as the longest race in the country--was prevented from running the full race length after the event was halted due to safety concerns as a thick fog blanketed the California night. But the race was restarted without incident and organizers extended the finish time three hours to provide as much racing as possible.
Thunderhill's endurance format is a significant departure from the 45-minute sprint events that the Mustang Challenge features on tracks around North America, but the FR500S proved to be up to the challenge no matter what the race distance. The first-ever race machine to come directly off the production line in Ford history, the FR500S is the competition platform for the Mustang Challenge. At Thunderhill, the Mustang Challenge racers also benefitted from a sponsorship support package from Mustang Challenge partners Ford Racing, BFGoodrich Tires, and Miller Motorsports Park
The event, which features some of the widest variety of race cars on the track at the same time, also provided a strong audience for the FR500S as a receptive group of racers saw the machine in action first hand.
The highest finishing FR500S entry was the ACS Express machine of Mike Davis, Boris Said, Brandon Davis, and Eric Curran, which emerged to take 4th in ES, the biggest class in the field. The strong finish marked a new adventure for the No. 00, which was driven by Mustang Trans-Am Champ Dorsey Schroeder to thrill the media and also participated in the very first Mustang Challenge event at Road Atlanta as the "Media Car." The No. 00 raced throughout the 2008 season before being auctioned in the very first Barrett-Jackson event to be held in Las Vegas this October.
TC Motorsport also posted an entry as Carlo Sparacio joined Rick Edwards, Ted Anthony, Jr., Steve Miller, and Jeff Van Lierop to share the driving duties. The team, which won both the season-opening Mustang Challenge race with eventual Champ Andrew Caddell as well as the season-ending event at Miller Motorsports Park with Anthony, Jr., didn't see the success they were hoping for in Thunderhill, but still combined to finish 10th in the ES Class.
The RP Motorsports entry of Andrew Hendricks, Pratt Cole, Nicholas Woodman, and Jamie Slone was well on track for a very strong result, with Cole showing why he scored multiple podiums during the 2008 Mustang Challenge season as he double-stinted through the night. Late in the race, the machine held a two-lap lead over the eventual race winner, but a clutch adjustment required a more lengthy stop than hoped for as the team came home 7th in the ES Class. But the FR500S showed its strength even to the finish.
"Ford did a fantastic job with the FR500S to have the car be so capable in the sprint racing format that we use in Mustang Challenge and then to be such a good runner in a long race like this," said Slone, who posted the entries fastest lap of the race on very last lap of the event. "It was a blast to be with all the guys again this weekend and this entire Thunderhill event just has everyone fired up about racing again at Homestead in March!"
Miller Motorsports Park was also a competitive presence for the second year running. Utilizing a similar Ford Mustang to those used at the Miller Performance Center, the No. 98 Larry Miller Racing machine was well-placed for a strong finish, holding the lead with just over 30 minutes to go, before a problem with the differential slowed the team's effort late in the race for team drivers Mitch Wright, Dan McKeever, Cindi Lux, and James Burke. The team was looking for a second consecutive class win, but still scored a podium with third in the ES class.
"We were all hoping to see a Mustang in Victory Circle this weekend, but even though it didn't work out that way this was a great gathering of Mustang Challenge racers," said Mustang Challenge Series Director Lynda Randall. "The environment in Mustang Challenge is really competitive, but there is also a lot of camaraderie and fun in our paddock, and this race was a kind of extension of that experience for our racers and it was great to have so many of our guys together for the race this weekend."
The Thunderhill weekend didn't just produce fond memories, though, as the GoPro Cameras were rolling for much of the event, capturing not only some behind-the-scenes and behind-the-wheel action, but also comments from the drivers and crews involved with this grueling event. In addition, Mustang Challenge partner BFGoodrich Tires had a crew on hand to film as Boris Said and Eric Curran gave their thoughts on the race, the FR500S, and naturally their impressions of the remarkable of g-Force R1 racing tires.