NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance
The 2014 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance is celebrating its eleventh running. The National Auto Sport Association (NASA), who sanctions the race, started from humble beginnings in 1991, hosting only high performance driving events. However, that did last long as the two founders, Ali Arsham and Jerry Kunzman, had dreams-and big dreams they were. By 1993, the pair held their first endurance race under the newly formed NASA name. While the high performance driving aspect continued to grow, as did the sprint racing program, it was the lure of endurance racing that these two gentlemen knew was special. Soon they started hosting longer and longer races and by 1998 the Timex 12 Hours of Thunderhill Raceway was born.
Despite meeting with great success, the 12 hour race days were numbered. That’s because Kunzman had a bigger dream. “We got to a point where we knew that some year very soon, it would be time to move on to a 24 hour event,” said Arsham. “The popularity was awesome, and the work to put on one of these events became easy and lacked a challenge for us.”
During the off-site banquet for the 2002 running of the Timex 12 Hours of Thunderhill, Kunzman decided to announce that next year the race would be expanded to 24 hours. On his way to the podium, he thought to himself, “Why not 25 hours.” A new event was born, the longest closed road race in US history. “I was feeling pretty good at dinner and it just seemed obvious to me that it was time to announce this,” said Kunzman. “In hindsight, I probably should have checked with the track before we made the announcement.”
Kunzman was determined, and the USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill went off as planned, but not without great effort and support from the track’s CEO, David Vodden. The first running of the event took place Dec. 6-7, 2003. The field of 77 teams watched from the grid on the front straight while the opening ceremonies included a flyover by two USAF F-15 Fighters, something that would become a yearly event tradition. “When Jerry first told me about the idea, I thought he was crazy. But, it didn’t take long before I realized that we probably could do this,” commented Vodden. “I soon knew that this would become a signature event for the track, and I look forward to the event every year.”
Each year teams enter this premiere event from around the world. Drivers, and in some cases teams, come from as far away as New Zealand, Europe, and Japan. The event currently enjoys event coverage on the Versus network in High Definition. 2014 marks the eleven year anniversary of the event.