On Sunday Aug. 28, 2016 the Élan NP01 once again demonstrated capabilities beyond its original sprint racing design. Dave Balingit, Team NASA Rocks team owner from Denver, competed in and completed the World Racing League’s 24-hour race at High Plains Raceway with co-drivers Jesse Grose, Chris Sarian, and Dan and Trevor Aweida.
The race started at 10 am on the Saturday, and over 24 hours the team completed 497 laps of the 2.55-mile track, taking the checkered flag at 10 am on Sunday.
“The primary goal for the team was to finish and be running at the checkered flag. The second goal was to win the GPX class, and the third was to have lots of fun doing it,” said Balingit.
The quickest lap time of the race was set by the youngest driver on the team, Trevor Aweida. Having raced with NASA for the past two years in an Audi in the GTS class and a Mustang in the American Iron class, this was the 18-year old’s first race in a purpose-built race car. Taking advantage of the cooler air, the NP01’s fastest lap of 2:01.9 came in the post-dawn hours on Sunday morning and was the second fastest lap of all cars in the race, only 0.044 seconds behind pro-racer Jason Hart in a GPX BMW m235.
The team successfully completed all three goals, winning the GPX class and placing 25th overall. “Goals of having fun were definitely met by all five drivers and seven crew members,” said Balingit. “The goal of winning overall is the priority for 2017.
“The NP01 is designed to be a cost-effective, prototype-style race car for sprint racing,” said Balingit. “We’ve entered the car in several non-NASA sprint races to show off its capabilities in other arenas and expose the car to a wider audience.”
In addition to the 24-hour endurance race, the team competed in the 100th Anniversary of the Pikes Peak International Hill climb in June, winning its class and completing the 12.42-mile, 156-turn course in 11 minutes, 35 seconds.
The NASA Prototype Championship Series that features the Élan NP01 began this year, but the cars competed prior to this in various open-spec races including the 2015 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance. CLP Motorsports was one of two teams entered and took the checkered flag after the grueling 25-hour race having completed 514 laps. The car is expected to compete again in this year’s race (Dec. 3-4) with a confirmed entry from Diamond Level Motorsports.
Photo credit to Danielle Trakney.