NAPA VALLEY, Calif. (October 30, 2012) - The United States Air Force 25 Hours of 966.jpgThunderhill race is just over a month away with plenty of high profile entries preparing for the twice around the clock plus one hour race to be run at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California on December 8-9. Two exciting entries are the Team Honda Research - West Acura ILX and the Rimicci Corse Fiat 500 Abarth. ACURA ILX Team Honda Research - West, located in Los Angeles, is building a pair of Acura ILX cars for the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The build was completed in time for this week's Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas. Calvin Liu, Team Honda Research - West project leader, created the build plan and schedule early in the year as the team not-so-patiently waited for the cars to arrive. Once the new chassis and donor cars arrived in late summer, the bodies were prepped and painted. Next, the roll cages were installed. Once the team received the donor cars from Acura Public Relations, the work began in earnest. Following the primal fun of tearing down the donor cars, the suspension, powertrain, interior and electronics were fitted to the two new white-body chassis. "Team Honda Research - West, with support from American Honda and HPD, has entered two Acura ILX cars to highlight the performance credentials of the new entry level Acura," Liu said. "Team members from Honda R&D, American Honda Motor Company, Honda Access America and Honda Performance Development (HPD) have been contributing many after-work hours, including weekends, to build the two cars. The team has completed two shakedown tests of the first ILX at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, and a third, more extensive test at Willow Springs International Raceway prior to delivering one of the cars for display at SEMA in Las Vegas." Liu likes the challenge that running Thunderhill Raceway for 25 hours provides to car and driver. "We are racing in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill because the track layout offers a great blend of speed, handling, and braking. It is a grueling event that taxes all parts of the car and team, like engine, transmission, suspension, and strategy. While we could go out and just run a test all by ourselves and get the mileage, Honda thrives on competition. It is one thing to say you did all this testing, but it is another to conquer the elements, show mechanical durability and speed, and to measure yourself against the competition." Honda has a rich history at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. With entries ranging from individual Honda associate-run teams to full, HPD-supported efforts such as the Honda CRZ hybrid program of 2010, Honda-affiliated teams have been on the grid of every 25 Hours of Thunderhill since 2003. Thumbnail image for 964.jpgRimicci Fiat 500 Rimicci Corse, based in Northridge, Calif., has built a Fiat 500 Abarth to compete in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Anthony Rimicci, team principal, is utilizing the two-day event as a part of the development program for the car. Rimicci will partner with GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driver and 25-hour veteran Johnny Kanavas, brother and Alfa Romeo racer Fabrizio Rimicci, and longtime vintage racing friend Efrain Olivares in hopes that the Abarth will somehow survive the longest endurance race in the world. Rimicci Abarth Anthony Rimicci with Rimicci Corse Fiat Abarth 500. "One great thing about being Italian is that you have a huge family, which means you have a lot of people you can ask for help," said Rimicci. "Also, it means we'll have an espresso machine in our trailer to keep the guys going through the night. The 25 Hour will be a big challenge, but we also expect it to be a lot of fun. We can't think of a better scenario to test the Abarth under race conditions and really push its limits. There are a lot of parts that have been built specifically for the car and we really want to put them to the test to get ready for next season." Jerry Kunzman, NASA Executive Director, likes the mix of privateer and "skunk work" factory teams that populate the diverse grid for the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. "There is a nice mix of top privateer, semi-factory and full factory backed entries for the 25 Hours," Kunzman said. "The teams with factory affiliation look forward to competing with the best privateer teams the sport has to offer. The Team Honda Research - West guys are no strangers to the 25 Hours. They have been with us since the first one in 2003. Rimicci has a very interesting Fiat 500. I am looking forward to seeing that great looking car on the track come December."