Local motor notes: Rivals unite for 25-hour race

Local auto racing is a true picture of community. It’s not uncommon to see drivers and crew members who compete against each other on a weekly basis come to another driver’s or crew’s rescue for parts, labor and wisdom.

Auburn resident Al Angulo, David Gehringer of Davis, Dion Johnson of Santa Cruz and Richard Lucquet of Sunnyvale have raced against each other in various sports car races in several regional series. But when a race lasts 25 hours, a couple of phone calls are needed, sometimes to a guy who has beaten you into the last corner and taken your trophy. The four competitors will team up to drive Angulo’s and Johnson’s Mazda Miata in the E3 class in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill – the region’s premier endurance motor sports event – the weekend of Dec. 7-8 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows.

“I’ve known Al for years through the (Northern California Racing Club) Spec Miata division, and over the years we’ve built a friendship,” said Gehringer, 46, who owns a tech research firm in Davis. “Al invited me to drive on his team this year, and he knows Richard from way back. I’m really looking forward to this.”

Gehringer won the NCRC’s Spec Miata division season title while Angulo finished fourth. Angulo, 51, is an auto shop teacher at Placer High School, and Johnson co-owns the 1994 Miata that will run from 11 a.m. Dec. 7 until noon Dec. 8. The men will trade driving duties every 90 minutes to two hours during the race that’s sanctioned by the National Auto Sports Association. Gehringer said the crew will include Angulo’s shop students.

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Pruett, Ganassi move to Ford

Auburn driver Scott Pruett and his Chip Ganassi Racing team are making another manufacturer switch, moving away from BMW to run the new Ford EcoBoost engine package next year.

Pruett and teammate Memo Rojas finished second in the Daytona Prototype division this season, the last of the Rolex Sports Car Series, which is merging in 2014 with the American Le Mans Series to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Ganassi Racing is the most successful team in Daytona Prototype history. It won its seventh championship this season. Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor won the last three races to grab the drivers’ title from Pruett and Rojas, who drove BMWs for the past four seasons. Pruett has won five Daytona Prototype titles.

Pruett started with Ford in 1985 and became a factory driver the next season. Both of Pruett’s IndyCar wins came with Ford, and his one season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was with Ford.

He and Rojas will start the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season Jan. 26-27 with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Pruett won the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona for the fifth time, tying him with Hurley Haywood for most victories in the grueling race.

Hangtown moves to May 31

Glen Helen Raceway returns to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series and starts the 2014 outdoor motocross nationals schedule on May 24, bumping the annual Hangtown Motocross Classic back to May 31.

“In 2013, we presented new rounds in Tennessee and Utah. Both performed even better than we hoped,” MX Sports Pro Racing President Davey Coombs said in a release. “Now we look forward to yet another new venue in (Crawfordsville) Indiana, as well as the return of the iconic Glen Helen Raceway (in San Bernardino) as the 2014 opener. Adding those events in with such premier motocross tracks as RedBud (in Michigan), Unadilla (New York), Washougal (Washington), Hangtown and more, and you have the makings of an exciting summer of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross for fans all over the country.”