Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tire Rack - Day Nine

It was exactly 11:00 pm Friday night when I pulled in the driveway in Arlington, VA - home.  It was so good to be home and to see Suze again.  I was exhausted and within 20 minutes I was in bed and sound asleep.  The alarm was set for 6:30 am so we could return the rental car to National Airport and then head south to Richmond for a morning of indoor carting (that's right, more racing) and then the late afternoon nuptials joining Jon and Katie.

Brian is back in South Bend holding up the driving duties.  It is early afternoon before I finally speak to him.  The results are final and Brian has beaten the M Coupe in the dry skid test pulling 0.984 G's.  It is good enough for 11th best while the M Coupe comes in 16th.  The dry skid pad win seals the first in class victory by 10 points.  Woody and Neil are second in the class with the Porsche Cayman a distant third.  The 335i finishes 14th overall with the M Coupe in 16th overall position.  It is a great result for both teams.  And way to go "B"!!!!!!!

This was one of the best One Laps.  The back and forth between us and Woody and Neil was simply fantastic.  Toward the end it did not matter where we would finish as the competition was all the fun.  That said, I know full well that Neil and Woody will be gunning for us again next year and vice a versa.  I can't wait!

Thanks Woody, Neil, and especially Brian for a great week.  Would not have missed it for the world.

For now, I will say goodnight.  More to follow on stats of the One Lap and other news.


Brew Pub - Day Eight (Part Four)

It has become a small tradition that many of the teams stop in Cleveland at a local brew pub to have a pint and snacks before driving the remaining 250 miles to South Bend.  This year is no exception, but for I will not be going on to South Bend.  I am very disappointed in not being able to finish and the feeling that I am abandoning my co-driver is overwhelming.  We have made a great team and have had way to many laughs.  It won't be the same for either of us after I depart for home a day early.  Why you ask?  I am attending the wedding of a good friend in Richmond, VA on Saturday and I do not want to miss it.

After a beer or two, the teams start departing for South Bend.  In lieu of Brian driving me to the airport where I have a rental car waiting I call a cab.  This will get Brian and the M Coupe carrying Woody and Neil on the road to Indiana sooner.  The outright win will rest entirely in Brian's hands and his expertise at the dry skid pad on Saturday morning.

I arrive at the airport Hertz rental depot and pick up my car from the Gold Level aisle.  It is a lovely Toyota Camry.  I am on the road by 5:15 with a 6 hour drive ahead of me.  I have told Suze that if I get too tired I will pull over to sleep.  If I muscle through, I should be home by 11:00 or so.

As predicted, it is a lonely drive without Brian and the sadness of departing the other teams and the sense of accomplishment in finishing weighs heavy.  There is always next year though!!!!

Nelson Ledges - Day Eight (Part Three)

Sorry for the time delay on the update!  It is going down to the wire as we last updated the epic battle.   After the morning session, we had gone up by 10 points over Woody and Neil in the SSGT1 Small Bore class.  This was due to the Porsche Cayman coming between the two of us.  It provided us some very limited breathing room in the event we did not win the afternoon session outright.  If we did win in the afternoon the first in class would be ours (assuming we could stay on top of the Cayman).  Second best would leave us still 5 points ahead of the M Coupe with one event remaining.  If the M Coupe were to beat us at the dry skid Saturday, we would be tied.  The tie breaker is the total time of all events - the least amount of time between the two tied competitors determines the winner.  We hope it does not go that far and that the Cayman does not play the spoiler.

So here we go - I am strapped in and ready to drive the afternoon event.  I am feeling a little apprehensive about the session and I am not sure why.  I did very well in the morning, but I think Woody may have simply bobbled the M Coupe at the start line and accidentally tripped the timing beam.  I'd like to think the pressure was getting to him.  I would like to take the afternoon win and not have to worry about the dry skid pad.

As I head out of pit lane, I think of Brian's words from the morning.  Be aggressive.  I also say to myself, this is the last event.  We have traveled over 4,000 miles at this point and completed many fast track laps and not balled up the car or hurt it in any way - let's not do it now at the last event!  Again, the session is over quickly and feel good about the run.  I did have one moment on the last lap where I pushed just a bit much and dropped two wheels off at track out.  It did get my heart racing a touch as it is a place where there is not much run off that is flat.  Approximately 4-5 feet from track edge is a rather severe (by run off areas) drop off in the terrain of 2-3 feet.  At 90 + miles an hour that could get hairy in a hurry.  Experience set in and I did not panic or jerk the wheel to bring the car back on track immediately.  I dropped the speed by 10 miles an hour and then smoothly came back to the racing surface and then put the peddle back down.  It did cost me some time.  Hopefully not too much.

Woody is in the run group after me.  As Woody is coming off track, Brian arrives and tells me the not so good news.  I was 3 seconds slower in the afternoon and Woody was 12 seconds faster than he was in the morning.  The net is that Woody ran my time from the morning and I was 3 seconds off that pace.  The question is where is the Cayman? If they come between us, we are right back to tied.  If not, we go in to Saturday with a 5 point lead intact.

The gents running the Cayman arrive back to their paddock space and the news for them is not good.  The car went in to limp mode during their session and caused them to lose significant time as they came to a complete stop on track, shut off the car and then restarted it clearing the fault.  We benefit from their problem unfortunately.

The final results for the event place Woody at 20th fastest and me at 22nd fastest.  We depart Nelson Ledges with a 5 point lead in the class and 14th overall with Woody and Neil 15th overall.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nelson Ledges - Day Eight (Part Two)

No, this is not an update on the morning results.  There were two "incidents" that are note worthy.

First, as Amanda Hennessy is completing her laps in a Chevy HHR she jumps the curbing at mid-turn and it is enough of a jolt to set off both passenger and driver side airbags.  The spectators at the turn could hear the bags going off as they replicate close range gun fire.  Don Flanigin (Joe Drumheller's co-driver) has a great photo showing the passenger side window completely filled with airbag.  Imagine having a gun go off next to your ear and pushing your head over violently to the right as you are making a high speed turn and thinking about your threshold braking point and downshift in to the slowest corner of the track where exit to the front straight is critical to a good lap time (I wrote that long sentence just so you get the idea of everything that is happening as the airbags deployed).  She kept right on going!!!  Great work Amanda - I think I would have pulled in and collected my thoughts.

The second incident occurred when a new 2010 Mustang was coming down the back straight and its motor let go - as David Hobbs would say.."its done blow'd up".  There was a huge cloud of white smoke pouring from the rear of the car.  The driver continued on through the very fast right hand sweeper and eventually made his way to the left hand corner (same corner Amanda had detonation of her airbags).  As he pulls the car on to the grass the car is clearly on fire with the driver rushing out fire extinguisher in hand.  The emergency crew is getting there at the same time and directing the driver away from the car who is at the ready to put the flames on his car out.  He obliges the emergency crew and steps back.  At this point the fire crew have hose in hand and are ready to extinguish - as they pull the lever there is no water.  I kid you not.  The driver is standing there with his fire extinguisher in hand and still cannot assist.  The fire crew yells to try the other tank.  Another lever is thrown and at last there is water to put out the flames.  The car does not look to bad for wear, but it is clearly out of the event.

As I write this, the morning results are in.  I took 16th overall and Woody 33rd.  The Porsche Cayman finished 23rd.  This puts us up by 10 points in the class over Neil and Woody.  It also moves us up to 12th in the overall dropping Woody and Neil to 13th.  I need to stay on my game as it is not over yet!

More later.....cheers!

Nelson Ledges - Day Eight (Part One)

Welcome to Nelson Ledges - Garretsville, OH about 25 miles west of Youngstown, OH.  This track is not much to talk about from a facilities standpoint and the track itself is generally in a state of disrepair, but it is really fast and fun.  Back in October, we ran a 24 Hours of LeMons race here which certainly allowed for a lot of practice on this course.  Nothing like lapping for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night to know a track.

Despite the recent experience, I still walked the track and collected my thoughts.  Neil joined me just after turn one.  It also provides us with some much needed exercise - a good stretch of the legs.  Strangely, it looks exactly the same as it did in October.  I will admit that I had never walked the track at the LeMons event and it did open my eyes as to the amount of positive camber in most of the turns and the slight up hill portions allowing more grip for turn in or braking.

At 8:30 the call goes out over the PA for the first 15 cars.  I suit up and start strapping in for the first session.  The pressure is on as Woody is a great driver and we are tied for points in class as we enter the day.  There are only three events left and if either of us walk away with two wins over the other the class win is over.

I make it to grid and Brian wishes me good luck, says be aggressive, and kick-ass.  His last chore is to turn on the video and remind me it is a cold track.  The temperature was in the high 40's as we arrive this am.  I get my recon lap complete and it feels good.  Coming up to the start finish I replay Brian's words in my mind - BE AGGRESSIVE (meaning.....grow a pair of attachments lad!!!).

I decide at the launch to not over do it and get the customary wheel hop as it just loses time.  The run is quick (a total of about 4 minutes) and before I know it I have completed the 3 hot laps.  At speed, the track is very bumpy and it makes for some excitement at track out locations and braking zones.  As I come off the track I yell out - "I love this friggin' track".  It so fun and FAST!

We'll have to wait for the final results of the morning to know if we have a leg up on Woody and Neil going in to the afternoon.  Stay tuned.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Jersey Motorsports Park - Day Seven (Part Two)

Sorry this is coming in so late crew.  It has been a long day filled with much excitement.  It started as I wrote earlier this morning with many friends (Wayne Speight also drove up from Annapolis with his friend Bob) arriving at the track to watch the One Lap festivities.  It was topped off by the best surprise of all - Suze, my lovely wife walked in to the paddock.  I was totally surprised as when we last spoke she was iffy at best on coming to Millville.  It absolutely made my day!!!  Thanks Suze.  Thanks to everyone that came out to support us and the other competitors.

Now on to the action and the results of the day.  Brian ran in the third group of the morning.  Woody ran in the fourth group.  Both came off the track feeling rather good about their efforts.  Only time would tell once   all the runs were completed and the results posted.  As the track is not very long, but very fast the One Lap organizers were able to get through the field quickly.  Not long after finishing all the run groups, the results were posted.  The winner in the class war was Brian by approximately 4 seconds over Woody.  Brian was 9th fastest overall and Woody 14th.  It leaves us after the morning session in first place in our class by 5 points.  Woody commits to picking up his game in the afternoon.  He will need to or we could walk away with a 10 point lead (two event win advantage).

As it is rather warm, we and many other friends are gathered under the canopy we carry with us.  You never know when it will rain or be blistering hot with no shade available other than what you bring.  Lunch, conversations, and naps under the temporary shade are had by all.  It is Thursday and the week has been long and tiring.  We're almost at the finish.

Right after lunch, the afternoon session begins.  Brian is in run group #3 with Woody following in run group #4.  Neil and I are timing each of them.  Based on our scoring it appears Woody may have the edge by a second over three laps.  Again, we are left to wait and check final results from the road while in transit back to Ohio.

As has become routine, we pack the car, say our goodbyes, and head out.  Woody asks if we can stop by the Thunderbolt Course to watch the Trans-Am cars practice for the weekend SCCA races.  Sure comes the word from all.  As we pull in to the paddock there are a few teams there and at this point only unloading their gear and setting up camp.  We say our goodbyes again and this time head for Ohio and Nelson Ledges in earnest.

This is our fourth transit across the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a week.  I am beginning to feel as though we know every bump and crack in this highway.  If I see this road again within the next 12 months, I'll scream - I still need to drive home tomorrow across it - damn, that makes 5 trips.  My only hope is that I can make the journey quickly and if "caught" pushing the limit I'll meet our friendly trooper.  On a short stop at a turnpike plaza, we bumped in to a state trooper.  He stopped as we were getting back in our cars and asked, "you guys aren't racing on my turnpike, are you?"  But of course not.  He was very nice and Woody explained the event.  He was interested in the cars and wished us good luck.

At some point, we start getting the results.  The news is good for the Woody/Neil team as Woody was 13th fastest in the afternoon and Brian 15th.  The difference in their times was less than one second over three laps.  Amazing!  It places us in a tie once again.  Due to the Danny Corcoran Vette dropping out and taking DNF's since Mid-Ohio, we are now 13th overall with Woody and Neil 12th.  There is no way for us to catch them in the overall unless they have a complete failure or DNF.  No one wishes that. Competition is healthy.

So where does that leave us?  It leaves me driving head to head with Woody tomorrow at Nelson Ledges.  If Woody takes both events with me finishing second in class to him they will have won the class with one event remaining - the dry skid pad.  If we split, it will come down to the dry skid pad.  We also cannot forget our friends in the Porsche Cayman.  They could easily get in the mix as far as times and make a huge impact.  Tomorrow will be very fun and interesting.  We are all looking forward to it.

I will wrap it up for now as I have a full belly after a splendid meal at Salvatore's in Youngstown, OH and the alarm is coming early again at 6:00 am.

Cheers all!  

Andy Hollis' Honda @ Mid-Ohio

New Jersey Motorsports Park - Day Seven (Part One)

We have awoken to another fine day here in southern New Jersey - bright sunshine, moderate temps, and a cool breeze.  Today's event is on the Lightning Course at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ.  The track is rather short at 1.9 miles, but very fast with long sweeping turns.  Brian is competing against his dad today, so it should be really fun to watch.

Good friends of mine, Mark and Judy Keen arrived in the paddock and completely surprised me.  They reside in Audubon, NJ and made the short drive down to watch the craziness that is One Lap.  It is great to see them.

Greg Lindsay a BMW friend of Woody and Neil has also arrived having driven from the Washington, DC area.  Thanks for coming out Greg!!!

And now for the bet on Andy Hollis changing brake pads and camber on his little go fast Honda in 10 minutes.  From a wheels on the ground to wheels on and finished it took Andy 4.17.54 minutes.  After the right front was done, I put my $100 on the windshield and walked away laughing.  Way to go Andy!!!

Andy and Ann (his better half) have graciously donated the $100 back to ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer and Neil Simmon made a matching contribution!!!!!  Like I have always said, the people on this event are the salt of the earth - simply wonderful and rapidly becoming good friends.

More after the first event.  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mid-Ohio Sports car Course - Day Six (Part Four)

That's right - it's 1:45 am and I am righting a brief blog.  The results are finally in for the second session at Mid-Ohio.  Brian finished 15th overall and Neil 12th.  After discussions with Brian and watching some in car video, the car stumbled a bit on power.  We are not exactly sure why, but will continue to monitor the situation.

It drops us back to a tie in class with Neil and Woody.  New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ is up tomorrow.  The short, but very fast lighting course is on tap.  Brian once again is at the helm and the task will be a big one as Woody is driving and Woody has experience on this particular track where Brian does not.  Stay tuned.

As for me, I will be watching AND timing Andy Hollis change brake pads and camber on his Honda from wheels on ground to wheels back on in 10 minutes or he owes me $100.

Cheers and good night!

PS - hope everyone likes the photos?!

The One Lap MO

Blog Time!

2010 Tire Rack One Lap of America

Hugh Bate of Chariots of Palm Beach - Getting It Right!

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Day Six (Part Two)

Quick update here - really quick.  Brian was 9th overall in the morning session and Neil 10th!  We both remain in our respective places overall.  The win puts us in first in class alone though.

Way to go B!!!!!  Must end quickly as it is a pit stop for gas, comfort, and driver change.


Someone is Looking Over Us Crazies!

M Coupe @ Mid-Ohio Turn One

Turn One at Mid-Ohio

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Day 6 (Part One)

Another quick update!  The morning sessions are going and Brian is a little concerned with the time clocked against Neil.  According to Woody, Neil was 9 seconds faster than Brian over the three laps.  That could be huge.  We'll wait to see the final results.

The Vette story you ask?  Well, there is a missing Vette today.  It is the car of Dan Corcoran.  Appears he was having some issues after Gateway in the transit.  He had stopped at the rest area along with Danny Popp to have a look under the hood.  Things seemed OK.  A mile out of the gate it appears all was not right with the world.  Another check reveals a knock from the lower end of the engine (rod knock).  The assumption is the motor has spun a lower end bearing.  Game over!  It is really to bad as this is Dan Corcoran's last One Lap after running 20 straight years.  He and his son Kyle will be off to compete in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland.  According to Danny, they are renting a car (Camaro GTS) to finish out the event.  Way to go Dan and Kyle!

The Subi?  It is here in Ohio and back to competing.  Another wounded car back in the chase.  Well done gents!

That's all for now - cheers!

Gateway International Raceway - Day Five (Part Three)

OK, OK so I am a few hours behind.  I decided to take the night off from blogging.  I did most of the driving in last nights leg anyway from St. Louis to Lexington, OH and Mid-Ohio.  So what are the standings post afternoon session at Gateway?

Brian ran 2 seconds slower in the afternoon than in the morning.  He had a small mis-shift in attempting to down shift to third (actually going to fifth) that may have cost him the time.   Other teams also picked up their games as did Woody.  Brian's run was good enough to post a 14th fastest time and Woody remained 19th fastest overall.  Still very good on both counts considering the roval favors the high horsepower monsters.

As far as the overall standings, we were able to move up to 14th, now just one slot behind Woody and Neil.  In class (SSGT1 Small Bore), we are tied.  Great work Brian!!!!!  Tomorrow will be another test and Brian is scheduled to complete the appointed chores.

After our runs, we packed up and hit the road at 1:45ish CST.  We had a 500 mile drive to Ohio and we did not want another late night, especially considering we were to lose an hour crossing back in to EST.  Before leaving, we exchange cell numbers with Steve McGuire of United BMW in Roswell, GA and make tentative plans for dinner in Indy.

The weather is still great and we keep our fingers crossed it remains that way the rest of the week.  It feels great to be headed east and not have to fight the setting sun.  Just as we approach Indianapolis we note Dan Corcoran in his Vette (long time One Lapper, very fast and currently sitting 4th overall) and Danny Popp exiting a rest area.  Everything seems to be normal.  It is only after  a mile that we see Danny pull to the breakdown lane rather quickly.  As we are in front of him we cannot stop to provide assistance.  What we do not see is Dan C pulling over as well.

We continued on and met up with the BMW Performance Center team at an Outback just east of Indy.  I felt dinner was a little early at 5:30, but it fit right in with Woody and Neil's seniors early bird special routine back home.  We do what we can to accommodate the elderly.

After dinner, it is back on the road with another 230 miles to go.  The X6 M is recruited to lead the way as they are sporting a full on radar/laser jamming system.  I guess it works OK - it sure did provide some comfort as we bolted across Indiana and Ohio.

Pulling in to Lexington and our motel at 11:15 we hear rumors that a Vette has had motor problems.  Our immediate reaction is that Danny Popp (he is also driving a very very fast Vette and in 3rd overall) is the one with the problem.  We'll have to wait and see.

What is going on with the Subaru?  When last we heard, the #6 team was having the fix it parts driven from Chicago to St. Louis.  The parts were due to arrive at the track around 5:00 pm.  From there my guess is 2-3 hours of repair and then a long overnight drive to Mid-Ohio.  Ouch!  Stay tuned on this developing story as well.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gateway International Raceway - Day Five (Part Three)

News flash!!!!  Morning results are in and Brian has posted a 9th overall fastest for the session.  It moves us up yet another spot to 16th overall and now only 5 points behind Woody and Neil who are first in class.  Woody was 19th fastest in the morning session.  It is good enough to maintain their 13th overall position.

Signing off for now.  Will post later and also provide an update on the Subi (Subaru).


Gateway International Raceway - Day Five (Part Two)

So you want the story on the Subi?  This is a very fast car with absolute insane horse power (I've heard 500+ to the rear wheels tossed around the paddock).  It is running in the top 10 overall and is first in class (Mid-priced Sedan).  In the second run group of the first session this morning the car was launched from the line and as it did you could hear an immediate failure of some sort.  The car lurched off the line and was dying a slow painful death.  The driver, not quite knowing what the issue was carried on through turn one. At this point there is smoke billowing from the left rear and yet the car moves forward.  It is only after several more turns that the driver understands this car is going no where and fast!

After a 20-30 minute delay, the car is flat-bedded off the track.  Upon close examination, the rear axle has snapped and then caused additional suspension failures.  As I write this, the team is searching for replacement parts here in the St. Louis area.  If this were to happen anywhere, this would be the place as it is a major metro area.  It is also early in the day and a Tuesday (really, it's Tuesday?)

Now for the update on our position after the bracket drags.  We gained one spot and are 17th overall.  Neil had a great time in the ET which moved them up to 13th overall.

Mike Renner in the BMW X6 M is right on our tail in 18th.  That is amazing given the X6 M is a 5,300 lb SUV - with a 4.4 liter twin turbo V8 producing 555 HP and 500 ft lbs torque.  It is also all wheel drive.  Mike is in a class battle with a stripped out Mazda 5 (that's a mini-van folks) with a Mazda 3 turbo motor.  Go Mike Go!

We are anxiously awaiting the results from the morning run session.  So stay tuned and we'll see if we gained on the old men ;-).

Story to Follow

A Future One Lapper!!!!!

Killing the Apex at Gateway

Friends Catching Some Shade in Tulsa!

Hunting Down the Apex at Hallet

Gateway International Raceway - Day Five (Part One)

Welcome to St. Louis - Gateway to the West.  As predicted, it was an extremely long day and evening finding us pulling in to the Ramada Inn in East St. Louis at 1:30 am.  We left Tulsa at 7:30 pm and covered the 500 miles in 6 hours.

We are now at the track which is a "roval" - a NASCAR oval combined with an infield road course.  I'll let you guess why it is called Gateway.  I unpacked the car as Brian walked the track.  We slept as late as possible this morning (a total of 4 hours - yawn) which meant splitting duties on driving prep and car prep.   The car is in good order and we are "blending" our fuel with 100 octane and the 91 octane we are finding out on the road.   We are remaining ever vigilant of the tach and short shifting at 6,500 RPM.  It has been working fine and the car remains fast.  We hope it stays that way.

As far as final results from the bracket drag races and what it did to our position, I will hold off as those posted on the One Lap of America website are incorrect.   I can tell you that my Low Elapsed Time (ET) time was 13.904 seconds in the 1/4 mile.  It certainly was not my best effort as I had tire spin and hop at the start.  It was worth a 27th overall.  The trap speed at the finish was 107 mph.

We dialed in my bracket time at 13.19 and I ran a 13.33 which was good enough for a win as the car next to me broke-out.  What does that mean?  It means that he "beat" (was faster than) his dialed in/break-out time.  It means I won by default - a win is a win and it moved us to the next round.  Stay tuned for the final results in our next post.

That's it for now - cheers!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hallet, OK - Day Four (Part Two)

This brief blog comes to you from under the grandstands at NHRA's Tulsa Raceway Park.  We finished up at Hallet and made the brief 50 miles trip to the drag strip just east of Tulsa, OK.

The results of the afternoon session are in.  Brian asked me to cut 5 seconds off my overall elapsed time.  I gave him 4 seconds which gave us an overall 22nd finishing position.  That is better than the morning by 3 spots.  It moved us down to 18th overall and now tied for first in class with Neil and Woody.  I am very excited even though we lost some positions over the past two days.  Bottom line, I kept us in contention and Brian (the much better driver) takes up the road race chores tomorrow at Gateway.  Neil finished 12th in the afternoon and has moved that team to 15th overall.   My hat is off to them (Neil).

The drag racing is scheduled to commence at 5:00.  This is worth points as well so we need to stay on our game.  We pumped some 104 octane fuel in the car (4 gallons at $8.00/gal) so may be we can pick up a whopping 10th of a second in a 1/4 mile.  When it comes to speed, no cost is to big ;-).

We'll check in later.  Cheers!!!!!

Hallet, OK - Day Four (Part One)

The competition is really heating up.  We have finished the morning session at Hallet  Motor Racing Circuit in Hallet, OK.  This is a great track and very technical.  It has two turns that are totally blind and several braking areas that are down hill.

Brian and I arrived at the track early (second car in the paddock) and unpacked.  It also afforded us the opportunity to snag a two car covered parking area for us and the M Coupe.  After unpacking we checked the car over, topped off the oil, adjusted the belts, and got it ready for the first run of the day.  Neil and Woody arrived shortly after we did and went through the same process.

It was then time to walk the track and re-familiarize myself with the subtle nuances of the "bitch".  Sorry everyone, but that is what it is called.  It is a fast blind uphill left turn with an immediate downhill braking zone followed by a tight right hander that goes back up hill.  YEEHAW!

I went out in the third group and after finishing felt rather good about the effort.  I struggled with the uphill blind right hander until the last hot lap.  I also had a slow running car (a Honda) that I had to get around at a critical turn.  I had to go offline and slow more than usual to make the turn.  Stuff happens - it's the One Lap.  People watching said I looked good through the aforementioned b***h though.

The results are in however and my time was not as god as I had hoped.  I was 25th overall (approximately 60 cars running) and Neil 11th overall.  It was great run for Neil!  My combined time was approximately 7 seconds over three laps behind Neil.  I did beat the other competition in our class - a Porsche Cayman that ran in the mid-30's.  At this posting, I am not sure where we are in class, but we are 16th overall - tied with Neil and Woody!  Neil's driving moved them up 5 spots in the overall this morning.  Mine more or less kept us at even keel.

We have another session this afternoon and may be I'll pick up my times.  I may not catch Neil, but I need to keep us in the top 20 and close to them and in the hunt for top three in class.  Once we are finished here, we will head to Tulsa for the drag racing portion of the event.  From there we head east to Gateway which is just east of St. Louis.


Neil In Time Out!!!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mid-America Motorplex - Day Three (Part Two)

First and foremost fans....I just could not help myself on the photo and Woody came up with the title!!!  Oh sometimes boredom does set in on the OLOA.  It is only Sunday and we are getting a bit punchy.

On to more important updates.  We are on the road with a short leg today from Pacific Junction, IA to Hallet, OK.  500 miles through Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Brock is slowing down in his old age and planning shorter routes.  Whimp - Sleep is for the WEAK.   As I write this we are approaching Wichita, Kansas.  We have another 200 miles to go which may put us in Hallet in time for a nice/healthy dinner.  This is meat country and we have traveled the past 300 miles by herds of beef on the hoof.  My mouth is watering.  All I need is for Brian to slow down so I can rope one and strap it to the hood - we'd eat like kings tonight.

Today was not such a great day for the ZERO team - at least from a standings point of view.  I ran both sessions and finished 28th in the morning and 32nd in the afternoon.  While I did put in my best effort it dropped us from 12th overall to 17th and from 1st in class to second.  I guess I was not on my "A" game as two years ago I ran 22nd in both events at MAM.  Stuff happens, but the car came off the track in one piece and no limp mode.  Brian and I are doing a great job of managing the RPM's, but keeping the car fast - well, more so on Brian's side than mine ;-).

Woody and Neil are 22nd overall and remain third in class.  They have tightened the gap significantly, but tomorrow is another day.

Have I mentioned the weather?  Probably not because I only mention it when it stinks.  Every year we come out west it is either as cold as an Eskimo's backside and raining or hot as Hades.  We have been blessed with simply awesome weather.  Today was another perfect example.  Low humidity, bright blue sky with large cumulus clouds, and a gentle breeze.  All wrapped around what is the optimum temperature - 72 degrees.  Weather tomorrow is scheduled for the same with may be a slight bump in the mercury.

There were no other dramatic stories from the track today as it appears the teams are settling in to their routines.  Brian and I certainly have as we can pack and unpack the car within about 10 minutes.  Less if pressured.  We are looking forward to a good meal and a full night of sleep.  Tomorrow will be a long day as we have two sessions at Hallet and then the drag race in Tulsa followed by a drive to East St. Louis and Gateway.

For now, I will sign off and report back tomorrow morning on my dinner.


Hanging Out In Wisconsin!?

The 335 at Turn 5 - Road America

Mid-America Motorplex - Day Three (Part One)

I left off last evening in a world of anxiety.  We were not very sure what was going on with the clutch and were talking the entire way through Iowa on what are plan would be if we had a failure.  Where to go and who to cal and when?

We arrived at out motel in Pacific Junction very early by OLOA standards - 11:00 pm.  We covered just over 650 miles in under 9 hours.  As we pulled in and registered, we started discussing our issue with some fellow One Lappers (20+ year veterans) who run a late model Camaro.  These two gents are great -Mike H and Damon J.  Mike asks if he can look at the car - of course, the more eyes the better.  Mike looks at the relationship of the brake to clutch pedal and asks, are they always like that?  I said no.  I went on to say that I had noticed the off-set relationship earlier as Brian had complained of "soft" brakes with the brake pedal being apparently further depressed.  Mike quickly reaches in to the car to test the clutch pedal depression and notices that the point of resistance magically aligns with the brake pedal.  Call it a EUREKA moment! Mike guesses that the clutch pedal stop has fallen out or failed.  We are very relieved as we empty the car out at MAM this morning and Brian finds a small plastic piece under the floor mat that looks exactly like a stop.  Problem solved or at least now known.  Huge thanks Mike for the diagnosis and a better nights sleep no worrying.

Brian and I arrived at the track early and as we are unpacking the car, Joe Drumheller and Don Flanigin arrive in their Porsche.  Why is this significant?  Because at the end of the first session at Road America, Joe arrived back in the paddock to find water dripping from the water pump.  Not good.  Joe attempted to make the run in the afternoon before placing the car on a pre-arranged flat bed for a trip to a Chicago Porsche dealer that had a water pump in stock.  After gridding up, it is apparent Joe's car is very sick.  As we leave Road America, Joe and Don are stuck waiting for the flat bed.  It is 3:00 pm as we pull and waive goodbye.  The little Porsche was hauled to Chicago and a new water pump installed (under warranty).  The pump had failed in short due to excessive vibration.  The work was completed by a young tech by 10:00 pm (Joe provided him a $500 tip) and Joe and Don drove all night pulling in to Pacific Junction at 6:30 am.  Car intact and running fine after the morning session.

The 2009 OLOA winner (Nissan GTR) has bought it as it is apparently burning off spark plug tips.  One which has finally destroyed a cylinder.  Game over.  The hood is up and the team looking on how to get back to South Carolina in time to pick up another car and meet the One Lappers in St. Louis.  Wow!

Signing off for now - my time this am was not good as both Neil and the second place team in class were faster than me, oh well.  We are having fun!


Paddock & Brian at Road America

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Road America - Day Two

We are currently somewhere in Iowa on I-80 headed west toward our destination in Pacific Junction, IA.  It is 10:00 pm and it has been a long day.  It has been a good one though as Brian has done a great job in the seat.  The final results for the Road America events are posted.  Brian finished 17th overall on the long course (officially).  In the afternoon, he finished 14th.  The effort has placed the car in 12th overall and it remains first in class with second in class 15 points behind.

Woody drove the M-Coupe to a 28th place finish in the morning session and 19th in the afternoon.  They currently sit in 22 place overall and third in class 30 points behind us.

Today was a day of serious attrition.  There were numerous cars that had mechanical failures and one with a serious off.  The off story is one I will keep very brief.  The car was (yes, "was") a Cadillac CTS-V that had a small encounter with a tire wall that caused just enough damage to make the car toast for the remainder of the 2010 One Lap.  Driver is fine and in fact has moved on to the purchase of a Dodge Crossfire from a local dealer.  He will continue the One Lap as a "participant" and we look forward to seeing the team at MAM.

Now for the really big news!  We are experiencing a clutch problem that we are not sure what the issue is as yet.  We have had the issue after pulling in for a pit stop and after leaving the track behind by 2.5 hours.  Everything is fine and then, wham.  Our issue is the clutch pedal for the first half of the travel has no resistance.  It then reaches mid point and picks up pressure.  At this point we are able to shift through the gear box and there is no apparent slipping.  We will make calls tomorrow to see what the issue may be with the best being a simple bleeding of the slave cylinder.  If that does not work, then it could be the slave cylinder itself failing which if it goes the way of the dodo then we are stuck.  If not that, then there is something even worse mechanically wrong.  There are folks with bigger brains and mechanical skills on the One Lap than mine and Brian's.  We'll consult in the am and see what happens.  If unresolved yet car can be driven, we'll try to nurse the car to Tulsa, OK and a BMW dealer or independent shop.

I am scheduled to drive MAM tomorrow and as long as we have a clutch we'll keep going.  Just another hurdle to overcome.

I am sure I will not get much sleep tonight as the worry now on the car is huge.  I hope everyone stays tuned.  For now I am going to sign off and I'll update our progress tomorrow.

Cheers (I think?)

The 335i On Wet Skid Pad

Wet Skid Pad and South Bend to Elkhart Lake

It was a short jaunt from South Bend, IN to Elkhart Lake, WI and Road America - a mere 235 miles. Extremely short by One Lap standards. We pulled in to our motel accommodations at 9:05 CST. The Baymont in Plymouth, WI (6 miles from the track) is a first class motel. By One Lap standards, a full on Ritz with the only thing missing being the soft cotton robes. The trip up and around Chicago was very easy and we were lucky to avoid any traffic issues and rush hour back-ups. We also missed the brunt of the storms and tornado warnings that passed through Milwaukee. We literally chased the storm up the Lake Michigan western coast never quite catching it.

Dinner was not great as we stuffed a frozen pizza down along with a soft drink. This was all done at the world famous track bar in Elkhart Lake - Siebkins. Walking in to the bar is like stepping back in time. Every surface is covered with race team stickers, photos of famous drivers, and driver signatures. Last night we were the only famous drivers in the joint though. It was fun to sit, relax, and laugh with good friends. Brock Yates (One Lap organizer and lord of all) was also there swapping stories about having to write letters to county sheriff's in Kansas two years ago. Appears a couple One Lappers joined the chase with Brock from Pacific Junction, IA to Texas and in the process upset the local gentry. Although Brock was not the perpetrator, he was pulled over and spent the next 30 minutes explaining himself and the others of the group. I do remember Brock giving a stern lecture in Texas the next morning to the entire One Lap clan. Obviously he was not happy. Makes for interesting stories though. We depart and arrive back at our motel by 11:00 with a wake up call set for 6:00.

So, how did we do in the first event - Wet Skid Pad? Brian throws down a .836g which is good enough for 13th over all and first in class. The Simon/Hair team grabs third in class with a .793 and 27th over all. If you are following the One Lap of America results we are car #28 and Woody and Neil are car #27 (as I write this, Woody points out that the time he did in my car last year on the wet skid pad would have placed 4th over all - I think he misses me).

Moving forward, we are now sitting in the Road America paddock under our fine pop-up tent and enjoying the cool dry breeze. Sun block will be going on again and a bit earlier than yesterday as we have some serious farmer tans started. The car is empty and Brian is driving Road America. There will two runs here with the long course at 4+ miles and the 2.3 mile short course in the afternoon. After that, we'll pack up and head west to Pacific Junction, IA and Mid-America Motorplex (MAM). It will be a long night as the trip is over 600 miles. Our expected arrival time will be 1-2 am.

Next report will be after the morning session. And as of now, we are beating the #27 team in class by 10 points - there is a long way to go!