Get Racing!   |   News   |    Regions   |   Racers   |   Schedule   |   Points   |   Discussion Forum   |   Gallery    |   Videos   |   Home   |   Contact Us

25 hours of Thunderhill 2004

The racing weekend started out in spectacular fashion with Bryan Dobyns qualifying at night at nearly the track record for the spec racers at a 2:01:87! Putting all on notice that the car was going to be a force to deal with.

The team decided to have Dan Lawson start the race, to keep us out of trouble and settle into the field. After the Air Force spectacular fly over, and the national anthem, everyone strapped in and fired up, ready to go!

One warm up lap with the field coming down the hot pit lane for the send off by the crews and track workers it was time to get serious.
The flagman waited till the last second to throw the green. The roar of the engines was deafening as they hurtled into turn one looking for space to run and stay out of trouble settling in for the long race.

Around lap eight coming over the overpass into turn five the transmition pop out of third gear and wouldn’t go back in making a load noise, so Dan shoved it in fourth and called into Okie Joe letting him know we had lost third.

Joe said “stay out and run in fourth” so several more laps were run. The car was turning 2:07s or 8s before the tranny problem, and lost about 2 seconds a lap after it went.

The crew prepared for the car coming in to change to the spare tranny. Dan brought the car in the cold pit and the pit crew jumped in and did a stellar job of changing the tranny in about 30 mins!

Dan jumped back in an took off looking to start picking off the competition getting back into the fray, jumping the track time back up to 2:05s, and 06s as traffic would allow weaving in and out of traffic passing as many as four cars down the front straight.

Finally our first pit stop with driver change came and Jim Schenck was up next. All the practice paid off as he was out in less than one laps time and on his way settling in. After another hour and a half with another pit stop just for fuel in the middle, Dave Riha stepped into the car determined to step up the pace and start really making a move to regain some positions and was quickly turning in some 2:05s fairly consistently. Even as he started to make the transition into nighttime. During his first pit stop for fuel the light bar was attached to the nose of the car, and fueled and out again in less than a minute!

Running consistently for over 1-½ hours Dave came in for the change of drivers and turn it over to Bob Lawson for the first night session. After settling in Bob started running consistent 2:07s and 8s and was picking off cars left and right as we started climbing out of the hole dug earlier due to the tranny. Pit stops were working flawlessly and consistently about 10 minutes faster than the previous year whether a straight fuel stop or fuel and driver. By now the crew had cooked up a lot of chicken and set out food for the long night, so people could stop and eat just about anytime they wanted.

Things seemed to be going well as Bob was coming in off a very successful stint in the car. Going into a sharp turn 10 a loud clunk, and the suspension fell on the left rear, Bob called in that something was wrong to Joe who relayed to the cold pit to prepare for the car for inspection! Harry Elam and crew got the jack stands ready along with the jacks and waited. Bob came cruising in and stopped to fill with gas, then pulled into the cold pit.

The crew jumped on the car looking for the problem in the right rear, where we found the three link had broken right out of the mount! Joe had the welder there in seconds and was grinding and welding quickly, but taking the time to do it right. After about 40 mins we were buttoning it up Bryan jumped in came around the cold pit stopped at the hot pit on the way out and topped off the fuel for a longer run. (You can only put ten gallons in at a time). Off he went into the night with a vengeance! I have never seen anyone run so hard at night, and before long Bryan was turning 2:02s! in traffic, at was awesome to see. It was now starting the point of the race where you get into the dog hours of night and people start feeling the effects of being up so long, and your moving into the deep late night. It was very cold and windy before the night was over temps would reach the 29-degree range, and even though we had coffee brewing in the pits, nothing could keep the bitter cold from your feet and legs. The hot pit crew took turns sitting in between pit stops wrapped in blankets and tried to stay warm. We were also monitoring the weather in the pits real time on a computer, amazingly rain showed all around the area, but wasn’t falling at the track as all the weather men were predicting. We were all very thankful for that as it really would have been miserable, it might have even snowed!

After quite a while of Bryan flying around the track the dreaded call came in that the rear suspension had let go again, this time it resulted in the panard bar mounting at the right rear side. The previous fix had put more pressure there and now it gave way.
Again the crew was prepared to go and jumped right to it after Bryan stop for 10 gals. And then pulled to the cold pit.

Rich Migliori got right to welding, while Dan Skittrell and Harry set about changing the front rotors and pads since we had the time to do so anyway. After another 60 mins or so Bryan was back on the track running a little less hard to take the pressure off the car.

Finally pulling in for the next driver change, Dan Elam jumped in and took off into the darkness. At this point I must say, the help of Levy-Renigade Racing with a set of lights they make, turned the night into day a really great unit. Along with some others that we put on the light bar. (Detachable)

We had gone through our whole list of drivers without any off track excursions of note, (maybe two off a couple of times) and had avoided all on track contacts. While still maintaining a good average laps time.

But now we were into the late night early morning phase when drivers and crew have to fight to maintain concentration, fighting sleep and sharpness, the time when big mistakes are sometimes made.

We were now rotating jobs in the pits in order to give people some rest and warmth. No one could leave their job, unless they had a replacement first. The cooperation of everyone in rotating was phenomenal and never a problem as they were dedicated to each other’s needs, and the team.

It was bitterly cold, while you were waiting to get into the car your feet would get really cold, the next driver up always had to be in the hot pit in case of emergency, which meant you were sitting there for at least an hour to hour and a half - wrapped in blankets or whatever you could find.

Now the question was could we go the rest of the way with the repairs we made to the three link, and panard rod?

Elam came in around 3am, and Dan Lawson got back in the car and headed out into the night. Coming off turn fifteen in a group of cars it look peculiar, tail lights were going left and right up ahead about a third of the way down the front straight. As the sea of cars parted a set of headlights were shinning in
your face! A black car had spun out somehow right in the middle of the track! Choosing the only hole available Dan went between the spun car and the inside wall clearing them both by about six inches on each side! Welcome to the night.

The rest of the run was completed with one pit stop for just fuel. Jim Schenck was up next and the transition went perfectly. The crew was doing a great job of getting us back on the track quickly even now in the early morning. Next up was Dave Riha who would be transitioning into daybreak. Dave took off and started setting some really good times, and as the sun came up the lap times got even better. The engine Okie Joe had put together was running flawlessly. Next up was Bob Lawson, Dan Elam, then Bryan Dobyns we were cruising along everyone driving very well and the crew making the stops equally well.

The plan was to run Bryan until about 45 mins to go and put Bob in for the last run to the checkered. Bryan was cruising around when coming off of the overpass coming into turn five, when the car dropped and he did two 360 degree turns…..calling into Joe, Dobyn’s said “we have a flat or something broke on the left rear”…Joe confirmed “Yeah we see your wheel and tire rolling towards turn eight! At this point we could have waited for the tow truck to come and pull us in, which would have taken a long time, and the race was getting down to the last hour, or we could do what Joe suggested “drive it across the field and into the pits” Bryan put her in gear and did just that dragging everything on the left rear of the car all the way into the cold pit.

Up again on jack stands and the crew jumps to pulling the rotor and axle out because we had broken all the studs! The spare axle was installed buttoned up wheel on and back out onto the track in less than 20 mins from when the wheel fell off!

Bob ran the last hour cruising hoping something else didn’t happen as long as we ran we would finish 3rd in class, and 28th overall. (Editors note: not exactly. We told him to stay out of trouble, but the trust was we needed that last hour to move out of fourth and from 33rd overall.)

Just before the last lap all crews were invited to line up on the front straight wall and wave the finishing cars over the line, what a rush!
All the hard work was rewarded as Bob came across fist in the air in celebration. It was Miller Time!!!!!!

The feeling of accomplishment, and teamwork was overwhelming. Only topped by the announcement at the awards when they called the Factory Five West team up to the podium! The camaraderie, teamwork, dedication was something everyone should feel. While we were very pleased with our finish we didn’t meet our goal of winning the class and finishing in the top 10 overall. We did improve over the previous year by a lot. With our gained knowledge in hand you can be sure we will be back next year. Hopefully again with everyone’s help we will be a force to reckon with and anyone who wants to help is welcome to join in, it will be an experience you won’t forget.



© 2005-2008, Factory Five Racing. All rights reserved

E-mail the Webmaster with questions or comments about this Web site.