Source: Toyota Press Release 01/07/08
SCION TACKLES AND FINISHES THE LONGEST ENDURANCE RACE IN THE WORLD
Marshall Pruett Motorsports Engineering and Scion team up to race in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance road race event with a turbocharged Scion tC, and complete 1,386 miles.
History was made in December 2007 with the debut of the Marshall Pruett Motorsports Engineering (MPME) Team Scion/Modified Magazine Scion tC as it competed and finished the world's longest endurance road race, held in Northern California at the Thunderhill Raceway circuit.
Sanctioned by the National Auto Sports Association (NASA), the MPME team, partnered with Scion and Modified Magazine, fielded an all-star lineup of drivers in the race that raced twice around the clock plus an hour. "It's a test of a car's reliability and performance unlike anything else in the world," noted Pruett. "We wanted to prove what can be done with an affordable but sporty car in a race like the '25 Hours' and the tC was the logical choice for us. When I announced the Scion as part of the program, I had some pretty serious drivers on the phone to me right away. I guess a serious tC built for road racing has been on a lot of driver's minds!"
MPME's driver Gary Sheehan led the driving squad, with pro racers Mark Hotchkis, Matt Varsha, Modified Magazine Senior Editor Dave Pratte, Tanner Foust, and Dale Sievwright joining forces to steer the Scion day and night over the 25 hour race.
"Gary brought an incredible leadership quality to the team, with Mark, Matt, Dave and Dale all lending their considerable talents to our efforts. Tanner was a revelation in the car.many only know him for Rallying or Drifting, but he's the real deal in anything with wheels," said Pruett. Foust also brought his crew from SPEED's Redline TV show to feature the Scion team on an episode that aired in late December, and Modified Magazine will feature the car and race in the March 2008 issue.
Just as Pruett's team wanted to break ground with the tC in endurance racing, Scion also saw the opportunity to chart a new path for the brand's racing endeavors.
"I'm incredibly thankful for the enthusiasm and aggressive support from Steve Hatanaka at Scion, and everybody at TRD for embracing our efforts to showcase the tC in major road racing events. I've worked with most of the major auto manufacturers on racing projects throughout the years, and our partnership with Scion and TRD is unlike anything I've had before."
The MPME Scion tC, sporting a Turbonetics turbocharger kit, BFGoodrich R1 tires, and numerous Hotchkis Performance suspension components, found itself amongst the top-five fastest cars in a race with seventy participants, and vehicles ranging from $500,000 Daytona Prototypes to factory-backed Honda S2000's and Ford Mustangs. The challenge of taking a tC with a base price of $17,000 into battle against famous thoroughbred racers like the Mustangs and S2000's wasn't the least bit imposing for the team.
"That's part of Scion's racing heritage — bringing a knife to a gun fight and walking away victorious. We might not have won on our debut, but I think our little car earned the respect in the racing community," said Pruett.
Beset by aftermarket wheel issues only and hour into the race, the MPME Team Scion/Modified Magazine team soon found themselves in the pits for an extended amount of time to repair the damage caused by the wheel failure.
"That was the frustrating part of the race for us — we were poised to spoil the party for some of the bigger teams, but that's hard to do when you have an unexpected wheel failure that damages a lot of components. Everything made by Scion or TRD performed flawlessly, as did almost every other racing component on the car. If not for the wheel issues, I'm confident we'd be celebrating a win in the tC's endurance racing debut," said Pruett.
With many hours lost due to repairs and the chance at victory lost almost before the race had started, the team was faced with packing up and going home, or pressing on to log as many laps as possible and try for a top-10 finish in class.
"We completed 462 laps at the 3.0 mile long track — 1,386 miles, worked our way up to ninth, and set a fastest lap during the race that bettered the two factory Mustangs that finished first and second in our class. I'm sad we didn't win, but our Scion tC passed every single car on track at some time during the race — even the Daytona Prototype. Everyone can hold their head high after the performance the car and team delivered. We.ll be back to go after the victory in 2008, and hope to run all 25 hours without interruption," noted Pruett.
The MPME Scion tC, built in partnership with TC Design of Milpitas, Calif., and prepared and tuned in partnership with GST Motorsports of Hayward, Calif., was built to SCCA Pro World Challenge specifications, with both MPME, GST, and Scion entering the car in a limited World Challenge campaign in 2008.
"The World Challenge Touring Car series is the toughest and most fiercely competitive environment for a sedan to race in this country; what better place to test the tC's capabilities than against the best cars factories like Acura, Mazda, Audi, Dodge, and BMW have to offer. We have modest expectation in our first year, but with a season under our belt, I think we'll have the other teams concerned in 2009," said Pruett.
The TV coverage of the highly popular World Challenge series is also a benefit. "Every race is aired on SPEED Channel as a one hour broadcast, so we know plenty of Scion fans will be able to root for their favorite car on SPEED, and can also come out to the races and cheer us on in person," said Pruett.
Because the car will race in different series in 2008, the car will look and sound different depending on what series it's entered in. "We'll run the TRD supercharger kit for the World Challenge races per the rules, and will switch back to the Turbonetics kit for Time Attacks and the 25 hour. We're forced to run mostly OE components in World Challenge, but can get pretty wild for Time Attacks, and then err towards reliability for endurance racing. It's a pretty versatile car that really lends itself to being raced in a bunch of configurations and different series," said Pruett.
Exact details on what events the MPME Team Scion/Modified Magazine will compete in for 2008 are still being finalized, but expect most of the 25 hour drivers to be behind the wheel again in the various races the car will be entered in. Be sure to follow the team's progress by visiting www.tCTouringCar.com, and www.ScionRacing.com.