Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day Two - Wet Skid Pad & Autocross

The day started early with a 6:15 am alarm.  A quick shower and it was back to the food trough at the Pancake House.  The breakfasts there are very good and the portions generous.  Of course this is all top of what was a big dinner the night before at a sports bar called 'Between the Buns'.  We had top watch the CAPS game while popping a brew.

Between the Buns is a great little place about 5 miles from the motel and just off the Notre Dame campus.  We had a wonderful waitress and at some point she went outside to let us know which car she liked best.  After returning, she says confidently that she loves BMW's (well of course there are three of them in the parking lot), but the orange car is really special.  Oh no, say it ain't so, she likes Joe Drumheller's GT3 Porsche!!!!!  Joe is all grins and slips the young woman an extra $10 for the fine choice.

Back to the One Lap though.  After a fine meal we head to the Tire Rack for the official start of the event - the wet skid pad test.  200' diameter circle with water sprayed on it by a sprinkler system.  Object, go around two laps in each direction as fast as possible.  The skid pad had been recently re-surfaced and it was proving by the early runners' times/g's to be quite slick. Woody's turn finely arrives and off he goes.  You can tell from the very start that the car is understeering and Woody is having to slow to make corrections.  The pain is over soon enough though and he heads back to our paddock space so we can pack up.

Next stop is Grissom Air Force Base near Peru, IN.  Peru is approximately 80 miles due south of South Bend.  We arrive with no issues and unpack.  Woody is also driving the autocross event today, so his chore is to walk the course which he does twice.  It is not long before cars are called to grid with the first cars off the start line at 1:00 pm.  While we are waiting for our turn the news of the skid pad results are filtering through the crowd like wildfire.  Let me get the bad news out quickly.....our sweet little E92 M3 finished 69th and four spots from last.  OUCH!  Oh well.....we'll just work hard to make up the points.

Woody finally starts the first run of three passes/trys in the autocross event.  He steadily makes improvements and by run three has knocked his best time down to a 55.82 seconds.  The best time was a 50.+ and second a 51.11.  There were a few 52.+ times and then a bunch of 54.+'s, 55.+'s, and finally 56.+'s.  Of course there were times slower than those, so it is hard to gage where Woody may have finished overall in this event.  At this writing the results have not been posted, so we will need to report later this evening or tomorrow morning.

For now I will sign off.  It is 8:22 pm and we just passed through Zane Grey's home town, Zanesville, OH with another 295 miles to our destination.

One last thing.....sorry there are no photos for this evening.  Have a slight technical issue that I hope my better half will be able to assist with tomorrow at Summit Point.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Remembering Why We are Here!!!

Day One - One Lap Registration & Tech

The routine at the start of year five's participation in the One Lap of America has become much to familiar. Today was no different than any other for our Day One registration and technical/safety inspection....except for Woody's cold shower.  Appears the control valve for the shower shot craps and so Woody was relegated to what amounted to a sponge bath.  A quick call to the front desk and we had a new room and me....a hot shower.  Voila!!!

After an absolutely lovely breakfast at the Pancake House directly across the street from our wonderful motel we headed to the local do-it-yourself car wash.  It is always wise to remove the road grime before applying yet more stickers.  This must do chore takes no more than 20 minutes and we are off to the Tire Rack headquarters for the first time.

Arriving at the Tire Rack, we are greeted by an employee who provides us our "paddock" assignment for the next two days.  We are literally at the end of the row and the farthest from the event tent.  No worries as it provides some exercise which we all could use.  The next 8 days of eating garbage on the road won't help in that arena either.

As Woody and I walk to registration, we talk with many of the return competitors and friends we have made over the years.  Many of them look the same, may be just a bit longer in the tooth and with possibly a new toy to drive in this years event.  After a quick signature or two signing our lives away we are handed a packet of stickers and this years lovingly prepared route book.   We have been assigned car number 21 for those of you going to the One Lap of America website for timing and scoring updates as we motor through the week.

As we begin to sticker up it is no surprise that the wind is blowing across the open country side of Indiana.  While not a total pain, it does make installation of more vinyl tedious.  It comes with the territory and there has not been a year here that it is not blowing at least 20 mph.  Tomorrow's forecast....even windier!

Within an hour we finish up placing the required stickers on the E92 M3.  Yes, it is true...the more stickers on the car the faster you go.  I estimate from today's activities that we picked up another thousandth of a second on the field.  We're chipping away on them and you can see the fear in their eyes already.

Noon came and went with a nice lunch at AJ's Burger's & Pub which was then followed by the driver's meeting where we all are reminded to place nice in the sand box together.  That goes for the One Lap competitors (duhhhhh) and the general public we meet on the roads.  The meeting wraps up rather quickly and in short order we are packing up the car and headed back to the motel for a good nights rest as tomorrow starts a grueling week.

Peace and good night until tomorrow!!!!  By the way, we are very much looking forward to seeing folks at Summit Point on Sunday, May 1.

Waking Up in South Bend

Woody and I just awoke from a pleasant slumber here at the Quality Inn in South Bend, IN.  I repeat this every year, but this place never seems to change.  The exceptions being the beer smell is slightly more pronounced and there are a few more spill stains in the carpet.  Win or lose, those Fighting Irish know how to party!

Our big 2011 One Lap adventure started yesterday morning with our first stop a link up with other One Lappers (Brian Hair, Greg Lindsey, and Dave Miller) from the DC Metro area at the scenic overlook at Frederick, MD.  Brian drove solo to South Bend as he would be hooking up with his co-driver who was making his way up from Atlanta.  The weather as we left Arlington was cloudy, but not raining.  We were only a few miles up I-270 before it started to rain heavily and the storms that were just missing Arlington were passing overhead.  But in what we hope is a good omen for the remainder of the trip, the rain stopped as we were pulling in to the scenic overlook.

The rest of the 605 mile trip was uneventful which is how we like it.  As we headed west we drove in and out of small rain showers and watched the mercury steadily drop (72 when we left home and 42 at the Quality Inn parking lot).  The group stopped for lunch at the Beer Kettle south of Cleveland where Megan was pleasant and served up a great lunch.

As we arrived in South Bend and passed the golden dome of Notre Dame I went in search of a drug store for meds to fight a burgeoning cold while the others stopped to pick up a six pack or two.  Finding a Walgreens and the meds I needed, I made my way back to the motel.  Pulling in there were a few One Lappers there and also checking in.  Not feeling that well, I grabbed the room key and made off to unpack the essentials

Not long after, our small caravan came to our room where we ordered pizza and had a beer or two.  The crew left for the bar while I popped a few drugs and went to sleep.

Hello South Bend.......more to come after tech inspection and registration today!!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Drive Against Prostate Cancer - The Golf Outing

The Drive Against Prostate Cancer golf tournament for 2011 has come and gone.  The event held at International Country Club in Fairfax, VA was a resounding success.  The course was in great shape and the ICC staff was extremely helpul.  The weather Gods listened to our prayers and provided a glorious day...a bit on the warm side for late April, but no one complained.  The tournament continues to grow and we are truly making a difference in our fight against prostate cancer in support of ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer.

But it is the tournament sponsors and the people who participate that make the event what it is each and every year.  To all of deepest gratitude and MANY THANKS!!!!!

With everyone's support, the tournament mulligan "program" raised $2,200.  Thanks to Shane Ferguson, our long drive champion, and the Tee to Green Challenge we raised another $800.  Thanks again Shane!!!!  To top it all off, each of the win, place, show teams for the tournament generously contributed back all of their winnings totalling another $1,400.  In all with tournament sponsors and individual donations, we have raised nearly $50,000 thus far. 

It's not too late though!!!  You can still donate to the Drive Against Prostate Cancer by visiting  Every dollar counts in this important cause in men's health.  Please help us make a difference.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

24 Hours of LeMons - A One Lap Warm Up (of sorts)

Last weekend, a group of true knuckheads as my better half calls us went to Millville, NJ to race in the 24 Hours of LeMons.  The team was made up of Woody Hair, Neil Simon, Robert DiGiovanni, Grant Stephens, Jerry Reich, and me.  While we have participated in another race within this so called "series" that was a true 24 hours in duration, this particular event at New Jersey Motorsports Park's (NJMP) Lightning Circuit was only 15 hours and broken up over two days (8 hours Saturday and 7 hours Sunday). 

For anyone that does not know about the 24 Hours of LeMons it is a race series for cars that are not worth extensibly more than $500.  Safety gear - roll cage, race seat, racing harnesses, tires, brakes, and the like do not count against the $500 limit.  Of course our crapper car of choice is a 1991 BMW E30 318is.  A little four banger that had seen better days, but loves the track!

The weekend before the race a few of the team members gathered at Bobby D's abode to work on the car.  Minor items to shore up the car.  After our fine mechanical skills were exhausted we loaded DaChit back on the transport trailer and headed to Woody's house where it sat on the street until our 7:15 am departure Friday morning (April 8th).

Woody and I hooked up the X5 to the trailer and off we went.  Despite the nasty weather, tolls, minor rush hour traffic, and a wee wee stop we arrived at NJMP at 11 am.  We set up camp, repainted the number from 50 to 70 (really just the 5 to a 7 as the zero is a toilet seat and requires no painting - see photo), and went to tech.  The car failed due to slightly questionable welds in a couple of places on the roll cage.  In addition, Woody could not exit the car in the required time of 4 seconds or less.  Woody narrowed it down eventually to 4.2 seconds, but that was not good enough.  I wondered how they had passed another driver in the paddock that was at least 350 pounds and would have had to been dislodged from the seat and car with a crane and that only after a 30 minute soaking in bacon fat grease.

Unable to borrow any welding equipment within the paddock, we found a tooling/machine shop on the other side of Vineland, a neighboring metropolis, who agreed to look at it.  We were at the shop from 2:20 to 6pm, but were able to close up the questionable welds.  Arriving back at the paddock, tech had closed for the day.  Not to worry though as we had another chance on saturday morning prior to the race start.

While the others left for their hotel in Atlantic City, Woody and I went to the Old Oar House Tavern in Millville for beers.  After a beer or two and a nice meal, we retired to our luxury suite at the Quality Inn.

Saturday was a beautiful day with temps in the 60s. Our welds passed tech and Woody's egress from the car, while one of his admittedly slower attempts, was quite satisfactory. We then had "BS" tech where penalty laps are assessed for the judges' estimate of the cars value over $500 and speed potential.  They questioned whether this abandoned car came with shiney new H&R race springs.  OOPS, I knew we should have muddied those puppies up.  Anyway, we were happy with only 1 BS lap penalty as other cars in the field were assessed up to 40 laps.

With 6 drivers for our car, we decided on one 1:15 stint each, allowing for 5 minutes for fuel and driver change. We just weren't sure if we could go 2:30 on a tank of gas and didn't want a driver to have to pit early. I started, and according to the other team members watching was quickly knocking off good laps and passing a ton of cars.  Early in my stint a piece of thick metal debris/plate struck the windshield right in front of me. My efforts to duck were stymied by the harness.  The resulting crack wasn't bad.  When I came in to the fuel pumps for the first driver change I reported getting lots of fender rubbing on the left front.  A quick glance at the tire showed the outer edge of the new Dunlop Z1 was shaved off.  The fender had been damaged when we were knocked out of the race at Nelson Ledges. It was not an issue at a subsequent race at Summit Point due to the mostly left hand turns, but at Lightning there is a very long, banked, fast light-bulbed shaped turn. Think of a one mile stock car oval run clockwise. After re-fueling, our new driver, Neil, drove to our paddock area and a jack handle was used to bend the fender out. At the end of Neil's stint we didn't think there was any more tire damage, but to be sure we pulled the wheel and I pounded on the inner fender with a BIG F'ING HAMMER.

Neil, Jerry and Woody continued to do a great job in their stints and we were in 7th place in the 5th hour. We hadn't received any black flags for wheels off, spins on track, or contact.  Wheel-to-wheel racing is SO much fun and with 66 cars on the track with widely varying speeds (and skills), it is quite intense.

It was soon Bobby D's turn at the wheel.  Robert was not out more than 10 minutes when the car was seen moving gingerly through turn 7.  I next saw Robert exit the track and drive VERY slowly to our paddock. The clutch was slipping so bad it had almost no forward umph.  Neil and Jerry tried bleeding the clutch slave cylinder to no avail.  So after 188 laps of the 1.9-mile track, and 5 1/2 hours of the 15 scheduled, we were forced to pack it in.

Given the hour, Neil, Woody, and I opted to stay another night in that swinging town called Millville.  It was another fine meal, a brew or two, and good laughs at the Oar House.  We were so tired that we were horizontal by 9 pm, but with alarms set for 3:45 am so we could watch the Formula One race live from somewhere in the Far East.  After a quick cat nap post F1 race we were back at the track by 9:00 am to pick up the wounded warrior and head for home.

In all, a bittersweet weekend. But we're looking forward to our next LeMons at the Shenandoah track at Summit Point in June.  Where did we finish officially?  With missing almost 2/3rds of the race, we ended up 54th of 66.