Introduction

Everything You Wanted to Know About NASA's Endurance Racing Series

NASA created its endurance racing series to provide drivers more options and an additional challenge in the realm of amateur motorsports. Endurance racing is a team sport, with races that are timed in hours rather than minutes. To be successful, your team must exhibit coordination, grit, polish and poise, and, of course, a little luck never hurts. With races ranging from two-and-a-half to six hours to the difficult, season-capping 25 Hours of Thunderhill, NASA’s endurance racing series is the gold standard of amateur racing. If you can win here, you can win anywhere.

The purpose of this series is to provide manufacturers and race vehicle builders a chance to showcase their products and team owners the chance to compete in an endurance racing series. Each team must declare their team name, a class, and a Team Captain (team owner) on their entry form when registering. Each Team Captain may only apply their season points to one team entry. If a team name is not declared on their entry form, the team will be viewed as a new independent team.

All closed-wheel racecars and sports racers, with adequate safety equipment, may be permitted to enter, subject to approval of the event administration. All vehicles must display at least one NASA decal on each side and one in the front and one in the rear. No other current sanctioning body decals are permitted, except INEX and 600 Racing. Note: INEX Thunder Roadsters and Legends are considered to be closed-wheel vehicles. ESR class vehicles are purpose-built sports racers and Prototype (e.g DP, LMC, Radical, etc.). ESR vehicles are not eligible to enter the ES class.
  • BMW E30 $1,500 to $5,000
  • BMW E36 $1,500 to $5,000
  • BMW E46 $2,000 to $6,000
  • BMW Z4 $15,000 to $20,000
  • Mazda Miata $1,500 to $2,500
  • Mazda NC MX-5 $6,000 to $10,000
  • Nissan 350Z $5,000 to $8,000
  • Nissan 370Z $8,500 to $15,000
  • Porsche Boxster $5,000 to $15,000
  • Porsche Cayman $24,000 to $54,000
NASA’s endurance racing classes don’t have engine specifications. Everything from rotaries to four-, five-, six-, eight-, 10- and 12- cylinder engines are eligible for use. The cars are subject to weight-topower ratio rules from NASA’s Super Touring classes, which determines in large part which endurance class you will be in.
All vehicles must meet the minimum listed weight for their class. All enduro weights are measured without driver. Any weight listed in a competitor’s class rulebook, which includes the driver, will be used to set the minimum weight for the vehicle, less 180 pounds. For example, if a vehicle’s class rulebook specifies a minimum weight of 2,580 pounds (with driver), the enduro weight would be 2,400 pounds minimum.
Permitted fuel is any grade of commercially available unmodified gasoline, E85 Ethanol, biodiesel, or diesel. Methanol is not permitted as a fuel.
The costs of construction vary from car to car, but they can add up quickly. Figure a minimum of $10,000 in safety and performance parts for cars such as a Mazda Miata, and upward of $25,000 for cars such as a BMW M3.

Some recent listings from RacingJunk.com

BMW 135i $50,000

BMW E36 M3 $27,000

BMW E46 M3 $55,000

Norma sports racer $65,000 to $95,000

2012 Porsche Cayman R $75,000

Porsche Cup 911 $75,000 to $250,000

Because endurance racing is about, well, endurance, power mods in and of themselves may not be the best use of your racing dollar. For endurance racing, and depending on class, many of the modifications include the means to carry more fuel so the car can do fewer stops, or equipment that leads to safer, faster pit stops. The longer you spend out on track turning laps, the more likely your chances for success.

  • Larger fuel cells, but no more than 44 gallons. 
  • Extended wheel studs with extra-long bullnoses.
  • Good radio communication system.
  • Fast-fill fuel cans. 
  • Pit lighting. 
  • Supplemental lighting on the car for night races. 
  • LED exterior lighting for identification purposes. 
  • Big screen TVs to track race timing from the pits.
Average cost to race a NASA enduro runs from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on your car, and upward of $20,000 for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

Tires, brands and prices

Tire sizes vary greatly, but here’s a sampling of popular brands and sizes.

Brand Tire Size Price
BFGoodrich g-Force
Rival P225-45-17
$178
Dunlop Direzza
ZII P225-50-16
$148
Falken RT-615K
P205-50-15
$108
Hankook Ventus
R-S3 Z222 P245-40-18
$241
Hoosier R7
P245-45-17
$351
Toyo Proxes RR
P205-50-15
$194
Yokohama Advan AD08R
P205-55-16
$180

Brakes, brands and prices

Hawk DTC 70 $300 – $350 Hawk DTC 60 $200 – $300

Hankook Competition, Hawk Performance, Hoosier Racing Tire, Mazda Motorsports, Maxxis, Toyo Tires.
Mazda Motorsports
  • Endurance racing is a team effort, so when a driver wins, the whole team wins.
  • Cost-sharing benefits for car, entry fees, tires and other expenses.
  • Lots of time behind the wheel. 
  • Nobody has better war stories than endurance racing drivers.
  • Unlike sprint racing, you cannot go endurance racing by yourself. You need help. That means assembling a team.
  • Racing at night requires supplemental lighting, and it takes no small amount of effort to get it right.
  • Speed differentials between the fastest and slowest classes are large, so all drivers must be vigilant to facilitate passing.
  • Longer races can require one or more tire changes. Tire budgets can be large.

2.5. Unauthorized drivers If any person is found to have driven a vehicle on course that is not properly registered, all drivers of that vehicle will be subject to disciplinary action. Minimum penalty shall be exclusion from the event. Exclusion from the event may be accompanied by loss of finishing position and prize money.

3.7.1. If the race may run past dusk, brake lights headlights, and taillights are mandatory. It is highly recommended that each vehicle have at least two headlights, two taillights, and two brake lights. In the event that one light fails, the vehicle will not be black flagged providing, that there is at least one sufficiently working light of each type.

3.7.3 Roof-mounted lights are prohibited.

5.1. Grid Pre-rid closes when the pace car leaves. Late vehicles must start in the back of the entire field or may be held to start the pit lane at the discretion of the Reentry Steward or Race Director.

5.3. Race finish The overall leader will be shown the checkered flag at the finish flag stand as soon as possible after the official race time has elapsed. There is normally no “last lap” indication given by the Starter. Note- not all finish lines are directly in front of the finish flag stand.

5.7. Repair on course Vehicles may be repaired on the course in a safe location at the discretion of an official or with the approval of the Race Director.

7.2. Reckless or negligent behavior by any driver or crewmember causing damage to themselves, equipment, pit surface, track, or other drivers’ equipment or persons, can result in harsh penalties. If a crewmember is injured during a pit stop the team may be disqualified.

8.2.11 No more than eight (8) personnel may be over the wall during refueling including any drivers. Once all refueling equipment is behind the pit wall, any number of needed personnel may be over the wall provided that each person serves a function (e.g. spectating, operating cameras, etc. is prohibited).

8.2.13. During refueling, at least one crewmember must hold a fire extinguisher and be ready to put out a possible fire while other crewmember(s) refuel the vehicle. The person manning the fire extinguisher must remain seven (7) to ten (10) feet away from the refueler(s) so as not to be engulfed in any flash fires that may occur.

8.9. Pit speed limit The speed limit in the pit lane is 25 mph.

FAQ

Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

They vary. NASA runs enduros that are two-and-a-half hours, three, four, six, and 25 hours long. The most common duration is three hours.
Yes, you can, and there a number of drivers who do “iron man” stints in NASA’s enduro series. However, because fuel stops are unavoidable, it’s a fairly simple process to switch drivers during a pit stop. It’s also considered to be safer to change drivers to avoid excess fatigue.
All closed-wheel racecars and sports racers, with adequate safety equipment, may be permitted to enter, subject to approval of the event administration. In other words, nearly anything but an open-wheel car.
You might be able to cobble together a few buddies at the track to be your pit crew, but it’s usually better to come prepared with your own team, especially if you hope to be competitive.
Yes. You will need to be a current NASA member with the proper medical clearance and a competition license to compete in a NASA enduro. For less formal endurance racing, check out NASA’s Team Racing Endurance Challenge series.
Endurance teams come loaded for bear. Of course you’ll need tools and spare parts and spare wheels and tires, but you’ll also need five gallons of water, a bucket of kitty litter, a 5-pound ABC-rated fire extinguisher, and a full fire suit, helmet, socks, shoes and gloves for your fueler. Read the rules. Know the rules.
Yes, but only for ES and ESR class cars. Vehicles classed in E0, E1, E2, E3 and E3S must use a manually operated hydraulic jack to raise the vehicle during competition and jack stands for support while working on the car.

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Endurance Racing Series Contacts

Endurance Racing
Peter Hopelain
Region: California-Southern
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Endurance Racing
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