Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Buttonwillow CA
NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship
What an INCREDIBLE night!!! NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship 3-hour endurance race! In endurance racing, strategy is important, but execution gets the job done. Horsepower is nice to have, but not required for success, and luck is paramount. If you can snare a bit of each of those elements – or an abundance of one of them – you stand at least a chance of winning.
Team PMG Awareness had EVERYTHING riding on this race. This was it! The last race of the 2020 season. This race would determine whether they would bring home a 5th Consecutive Championship! While every driver is a fierce competitor, Team Lang Racing Development was the one team that Team PMG Awareness had to beat. Team Lang Racing Development was only 6 points behind Team PMG Awareness overall after the NASA Utah 6 Hour Endurance Race at Utah Motorsports Campus back in August of this year.
Team PMG Awareness showed up early and were razor focused the entire day. They are unreal at what they do and their character is revealed when the pressure is applied…they have good chemistry, great preparation and structure and are a hardworking crew.
Tom Haacker, driver and owner of the Team PMG Awareness Porsche was sharing the seat with Ross Thompson for this championship race. Ross Thompson, a professional racecar driver as well as a professional driver coach with 22 years’ experience, went out in the afternoon to qualify for a starting race position. He qualified fasted and secured Team PMG Awareness a start in P1 (position achieved during qualifying). Team Lang followed closely in P2, which set the stage for an extremely competitive race.
As the sun began to set at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, approximately 25 cars took to the grid in their last attempt to bring home a championship. Tom was first in the driver’s seat and together, Team PMG Awareness and Team Lang Racing Development waited anxiously in their 1st and 2nd positions. The spectacular sunset seemed to entice the drivers and added to the anticipation.
When the green flag flew at 6:15pm, Team PMG Awareness leapt out to an early lead and held it for at least the first 15 laps. The drivers seemed to have settled into a rhythm despite the blacker-than-crude darkness of California’s Central Valley. The are no lights on this track as it is out in the middle of the desert, so therefore, the only lights the drivers have are the ones that are on their cars. There were quite a few cautions, which sent dust swirling and required sending the safety car out multiple times.
It quickly became a game of cat and mouse when Team Lang eventually made their move and took the lead. As the enduro entered the second half of racing, cars began coming in for pit stops, planned and unplanned. Things began to get serious. As soon as Team Lang came in for their first pit, Team PMG Awareness was able to retake the 1st place position. Around 8:15pm, Tom brought the car in for its first pit stop where they quickly fueled, changed tires and did a driver change. Ross was now in the car for the last stint of the race.
As soon as Tom got out of the car, he said, “Our light bar was out during the last 40 minutes of my run. I drove off the track a couple of times and all I could see was dust! Ross will have low visibility for his entire run as well!” He later also mentioned that luckily it wasn’t a hot evening because the air hose in his helmet had broke loose.
As Ross began his stint, he worked hard to make up for lost time spent in the pit and to ensure their lead in the race. He battled dust and darkness and kept his mind on prize. Unfortunately, Team Lang quickly worked their way back up into first place. But to everyone’s surprise, Team Lang made another pit stop to refuel and Team PMG Awareness flew by gaining the lead for the final time!
Team PMG Awareness remained consistent and focused and managed to cross the checkered in 1ST place gaining them their 5th Consecutive Championship! Quickly after the race ended, everyone came together for the award ceremony, where Team PMG Awareness took to the podium and was awarded the 1st place trophy. What a joyous moment that was for both Tom and Russ and the entire crew! CONGRATULATIONS TEAM PMG AWARENESS!!!!