Napa Valley, CA – December 15, 2019 – HQ AUTOSPORT RACING, in collaboration with Shift Up Now, put in a valiant effort to finish fourth in the E2 class and tenth overall at the grueling 2019 NASA United States Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance extreme endurance race over the weekend of December 7-8, 2019 in Willows, California.
The HQ Racing team, having already secured the National Auto Sport Association’s Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) E2 points championship for the second year in a row, partnered with Shift Up Now, a collective of female racers using motorsports to inspire confidence and courage, for the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill event.
Together, the five drivers including multi-time class winner Travis Weltzien, BMW CCA HPDE instructor Peter Engels, Loni Unser of the legendary IndyCar Unser family, three-time road racing champion Michele Abbate, and Global MX-5 Cup competitor Sarah Montgomery, made team owners Rob Henretta (crew chief) and Paul Quattrocchi (team manager) proud with their impressive performances and perseverance as the group expertly piloted HQ Autosport’s 2008 BMW 128i through 591 laps and 1,667.8 miles over the 25-hour race period.
Pre-race prep ensured that the NASA E2 2008 BMW 128i was ready to run and its 3.0-liter N52B28 inline 6-cylinder engine, tuned by EPIC Motorsports, and BMW 6-speed manual transmission were ready to take some abuse. Montgomery took the wheel during qualifying and earned the team the P3 spot to start.
The race kicked off on Saturday in tough conditions as relentless rain, strong winds, and biting cold combined for an incredibly tricky racing surface with limited traction and tons of slick spots. In the first stint and on track with everything from prototypes to Miatas, an unexpected slip due to the treacherous conditions put the car deep into the grass and the team had to hustle to make up ground as a result.
By mid-day, though, the rain let up and the sun attempted to break through the clouds. There were a few incidents of mild contact, but HQ’s drivers kept at it and the car was no worse for the wear. As the sun set and evening loomed, the team was fourth in class and hurriedly working to close the gap.
Rain came back as the dark settled in, and the excitement picked with limited visibility and exhaustion setting in. Unsurprisingly, HQ’s drivers rallied and worked through the night. By Sunday morning, with the sun rising over the picturesque hills of California, the team had moved into third for the E2 class but the lead slipped away when a cracked rim forced an unscheduled pit stop and the course degraded into what resembled a mud rally.
The clock was ticking, and the “Mt. Everest of Motorsports” race was nearing its grand conclusion. Pushing hard for the final few stints, the HQ Autosport and Shift Up Now drivers put in monumental performances to bring the team back into the podium chase. With one hour to go, driver Engels pushed into third and fought hard to widen the gap and build a buffer while still chasing the next car ahead. The clocked ticked down, and the car in second was pushed off track, opening the door for Engels to advance into its spot but it was a real nail biter to see if he could get it done. Ten minutes remained, but a necessary splash-and-go fuel stop had put Engels back.
As the checkered flag fell on the final lap after an exhausting yet exciting event, Engels closed out the race and Henretta and Quattrocchi’s team went into the books having finished fourth in E2 and impressively tenth overall of the forty-one total entries – no team in the entire field climbed more positions than the HQ/SUN team did.
“Despite all the preparation, we were faced with unexpected problems, but each was resolved quickly and on the first try. From sound levels to horsepower to track conditions and tires, the drivers and crew stepped up, solved problems, and moved the team ahead,” said Henretta proudly of how his E2 team performed with zero penalties incurred throughout the entire race. “We beat all of the E0 and E1 cars, and all but one each of the ES and GT challenge.”
Congratulations to the entire HQ Autosport Racing team, also including Lynn Kehoe – Shift Up Now Founder & CEO, Karen Salvaggio – Shift Up Now President, Abel Robredo – HQ Autosport lead master technician, Matthew Kogan – HQ Autosport data analyst & spotter, Mandy McGee – Shift Up Now spotter, Narisa Masermsin – HQ Autosport team photographer, Ainsley Jacobs – Motorsports Marketing Strategist, Mitchell Pinnix – Shift Up Now pit crew, Jeremy Bligh – Shift Up Now pit crew, Anthony Philleo – Shift Up Now pit crew, Matt Weltzien – HQ Autosport pit crew, Carson Kolozsvari – HQ Autosport pit crew, and Eric Mott – HQ Autosport pit crew, on their fantastic finish at the 2019 NASA United States Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance. To learn more about HQ Autosport, please visit facebook.com/HQautosport.
About HQ Autosport:
HQ Autosport is an amateur racing team focused on BMW endurance road racing. Owned by Rob Henretta and Paul Quattrocchi, two longtime friends with careers in IT/marketing who decided to turn their passion for road racing into a legitimate effort, the team competes in the National Auto Sport Association’s Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) series with their 2008 BMW 128i and secured the 2019 championship title with drivers Travis Weltzien and Peter Engels. Next, HQ Autosport will compete at the legendary NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill extreme endurance road racing event on December 7-8, 2019. Current team sponsors include Toyo Tires, Shift Up Now, Solely Bimmer, Bimmerworld, Blackbird Fabrication, Sampson Racing Communications (SRC), Autosport Labs, Motion Control Suspension (MCS), and Vorshlag Motorsports. For more information, visit and “like” HQ Autosport Racing on Facebook at facebook.com/HQautosport and follow HQ Autosport on Instagram at @HQautosport.
Rob Henretta | P: (949) 510-3089 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.HQautosport.com | HQ Autosport
Paul Quattrocchi | P: (619) 384-2265| E: email@example.com | W: www.HQautosport.com | HQ Autosport