Boothman Racing makes the Grassroots Motorsports Cover!
Team Boothman Takes on the NASA/United States Air Force
On December 3-4, 2010, Team Boothman came to Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California to brave the elements and take on the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the longest and most grueling automobile endurance race in North America.
The eligible Team Boothman drivers were Ed Boothman, 67, Naples, Florida, Scott McKay, 36, Bradenton, Florida, John George, 32, Nashua, New Hampshire, Dave Riha, 31, Tempe, Arizona, Jim Schenck, 38, Wareham, Massachusetts and Dave Standridge, 50, San Martin, California. The team was stacked with driving talent: McKay has three road racing National Championships, Standridge has one road racing National Championship and a podium finish in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and John George has a trio of National Championship podium finishes, with the remaining drivers having years of relevant road racing experience.
The 2010 25 Hours of Thunderhill would be the team’s third attempt at winning this legendary race, and they would attempt the feat in a modified Factory Five Racing roadster. The car sported a 350 horsepower 302 Ford engine, big Wilwood brakes, a refined aero package, Hoosier slicks for the dry weather, and full tread Toyo RA-1 as backup for the rain.
Team Boothman prepared for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race by embarking on an extensive journey. Boothman himself left his home in Naples, Florida with the team Factory Five roadster in tow and made a pit stop in Bradenton, Florida at McKay’s house to pick up additional spare parts and McKay’s entire inventory of tires. Over 3,000 miles later, Boothman arrived in the Golden State, ready to tackle another 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Team drivers McKay, George, Riha and Schenck flew in to the event, and Standridge, a California resident, made a 4 hour drive to the track.
George drove the Factory Five Racing roadster to a solid 12th overall qualifying position. McKay took the flying green flag start for the grueling 25 hour race, and quickly had the car running in the 6th position overall. 30 minutes into the race, however, McKay was coming out of turn five (also known as the Cyclone) and into turn six when he heard a catastrophic bang, and the car immediately spun violently backwards over a dirt embankment. Further evaluation revealed that the wheel studs had sheared off and the tire/wheel combination shot into orbit. The veteran crew immediately rushed into action, and under the leadership of crew chiefs Andy Cole and Mark Dougherty, the axle was replaced and the car was fixed and on track in under an hour, where it ran perfectly for the majority of the race. A few mundane mechanical issues surfaced later, but were quickly resolved.
Given that the race starts at 11 am on Saturday and ends at noon the following day, over half the race is in the dark. This year, rain joined the darkness to make things more interesting. McKay, Riha, George and Standridge all did long, cold shifts in the rainy darkness in the open top roadster, needing frequent stops to clean the helmet visors. Even under those tumultuous conditions, the team drivers stayed sharp and kept the car on the track and out of trouble. No car to car contact was made during the entire race, a fact many other teams cannot boast.
Driver changes and fueling were pre-rehearsed and went smoothly, and as the race went on, because of fast, smooth laps and seamless pit stops, Team Boothman began climbing the leaderboard, regaining time that was lost in the pit to the earlier repairs. By the time the 25 hour race was over, the team had moved up to 5th position in class and 18th overall.
While the team was disappointed without at least a podium finish, just finishing this grueling race is a feat into itself. The team conducted post-race driver and crew download sessions to learn more about what needs improvement to win the race next year. Armed with that knowledge, Team Boothman will prove to be a force for the 2011 25 Hours of Thunderhill.