View Full Version : 2007 OLOA from a new Lap Dawg

05-19-2007, 03:13 AM
My first One Lap of America (OLOA) is in the bag and I, naturally, have a few observations to make. Some quick comparisons to the Hot Rod Power Tour (HRPT) are in order I think.

Duration - both are effectively 8 days.

Entry Fee - $2500 for OLOA and $55 for HRPT.

Dragstrips - 3 for HRPT and 1 for OLOA

Free Meals - 5-6 for HRPT and 3 for OLOA

Free booze - 0 for HRPT and 1 for OLOA (Jagermeister sponsored)

License Fees - $300 for the minimum 2 drivers for OLOA and $0 for HRPT

Oval Tracks - 1 for OLOA and 0 for HRPT

Road Courses - 0 for HRPT and 7 for OLOA

Distances - slightly more for OLOA overall.

Travel Time - daylight for HRPT and lots of darkness for OLOA

Freebies - HRPT more than you can pack into a ZO6. OLOA less than what will fit into a 1 quart baggie.

Entrants - HRPT ~5000. OLOA ~100.

Fun Factor - both are high but the focus is very different.

I hit O'Reilly Raceway park with both the HRPT and OLOA. It was hot and humid both times. The concession stand consistently charged unbelievable prices. The racing was pretty good at both. Some things are consistent at least.

Everyone should plan a little better for participating than I did. I went from daydreaming at work (it is what I do so well) to getting a call from Jon saying his wife cannot make OLOA and was I interested in co-driving. This was about 2 weeks before the event. A week of racing someone else's car - sounded good to me. At that point I had to skip the rent to the county projects office to send in my half of the entry fee - so far they have only threatened eviction. I also had to send money to the SVRA for a license (you don't really get a license - you just send them money) and get a SVRA physical. All I can say is Dr. Phillip Kennedy at the Center for Primary Care (many convenient locations to serve you in the CSRA) made it possible for me to get that part done. Basically, I had done zero prep to get ready for OLOA. My advice is start much, much earlier. As a matter of fact all of you Lap hopefuls really need to get started on next year, today.

After sending checks, giving out credit card numbers and faxing things all over the country we were registered and set to go. I think Jon finished all the paperwork a few minutes before we showed up at registration. Things that did not happen were test days at the track in the car for me and test packing the car for the trip. Virtually every track was new to Jon and me. I think getting the optimized load plan for the car is vital to time management on the trip. Any pre-running of a track is a benefit beyond price. Getting in some skid pad time and even a little bit of oval practice is also vital. From what I heard an evening or two at a drag strip would not hurt either. Getting a vital parts list together and a plan to have them were you need them is also important. Breaking a high end brake rotor in CO is going to drive some improvisation at best or a DNF at worst.

The car, provided by Jon, was a heavily massaged 2001 Bullitt Mustang. The interior and sheetmetal was stock - everything else had been tweaked. It is the best handling Mustang I have ever driven. The chassis setup was superb and the car made good power. We were running BFG KDs and they were not the best choice for the wet or snow for that matter.

I ended up traveling in VA, MD, DC, OH, IN, IL, WY, NE, IL, IA, UT, CO, NM, OK, MO, KY, TN, AL and GA by the time I made it to OLOA and back home. Not bad for 10 days or so. The only massive traffic jams we were in were in OH and UT. The scenery was stunning, if I had night vision goggles that is. We hit some impressive storms and even saw significant snow. Jon was really impressed with the front end loader moving snow banks at 2AM in CO in the narrow pass we went through. Seeing a sea of cones in a torrential downpour with no clear path is really an emotional experience - it was like being in Autocross hell.

Apparently, riding with me through the mountains is also an emotional experience. Jon only pretended to sleep since he was holding on for dear life and seemed to prefer to hear the tires squeal since then he knew we were not flying through the air off a cliff. I was only trying to make up a little time and since I have spent a lot of my life driving out west my comfort level was much higher. The lack of reflectors on the roads in OK also caused a little concern to the uninitiated. The good news was the roads are very straight so it easy to guess where they go. The bad news is there are no culverts just dips in the road to carry the water across. It was a bit tough on the low slung cars. I think we caught some impressive air in a few places.

The registration day is like the registration day at the Hot Rod Power Tour - pretty much running down needed parts for tech (I think our fire extinguisher went through tech in 5 cars), getting signed in and getting the stickers on. The drivers meeting was the only mandatory event. Jon knew most of the players since this is his 5th year. I just knew the track bums from the southeast. We spent a little while sizing up the competition and meeting new friends. Important tip - it is ALWAYS windy and cold in South Bend it seems - plan accordingly.

Despite what people might say, there are no throwaway events at OLOA starting with day one. They all count for points and can make a difference. The drag strip, ovals and skid pads can really knock you down if you snooze or prop you up of you pay attention to the details. With KDs on the car and no practice time I think we beat the Jagermeister bus and the Noble in the wet skid pad. The oval was mid pack for us I think. I was doing OK at Autobahn sorting out the car and the track since they were both new to me. I was getting a miss around 4000-7000 rpm that was making me a little nuts and losing power. It was hard to build momentum and the washboard pavement at Autobahn had me wondering what the car was up to. On the third hot lap coming into T11 I had smoke in the cockpit and pulled off line to the inside. A heater hose fitting at the firewall finished cracking (apparently it was spraying the coil packs before that) and dumped ~three gallons of coolant in front of the rear tires. It was a most impressive spin into T11 by the corner worker. I think I should get some bonus points for him diving for the tire wall. I coolly reentered the track off line and took the checkered since a DNF is very painful to the overall points. As it was it put us back into 68th place at Autobahn. We patched the line and made it to the hotel in Iowa. With the heavy storms and our performance it was rough first day. The next morning Menard's provided us with a garden hose repair kit to replace the broken plastic fitting. The people who offered to help were incredible. The few who walk on by when you are broken are a minor price to pay for the ones who jump in to assist. Almost everyone on OLOA is a lot of fun and willing to help out all the competitors.

When we got to Mid-America Motorsports (MAM) they were still pumping the track and that is never a good sign. Luckily, due to my skillful strategy at Autobahn, my slot number of 68 was way in the back. We had lots of down time and they ended up canceling one of the events at MAM. We used some of it to watch the show and talk to folks. It also allowed the track to dry quite a bit by the time I got on it. We ended up finishing 26th and second in class at MAM.

The Mustang and I had some teething pains. At Autobahn I was not listening too well and the car was not real honest about what it liked. Getting in a car cold that is different than your normal car is like changing girlfriends. Treating the new girlfriend like the old one is not normally the best idea. The Mustang likes to be above 4000 rpm - when I treated it like an LS6 it made it plain it was not going to get me where I wanted to be. I had to shift a lot to keep it in the supercharger sweet spot. The brakes are great but they are not the same as my C5 with track pads (the turn worker at T11 at Autobahn can attest to that on my warm up lap). At MAM I was able to modulate the throttle and brakes a lot better. If I was better at remembering new tracks I could carry more speed more places - such is life. MAM was also a track due to the rain you did not want to go off on (See pics of Corcoran's Vette after the wet slide) so I was a little cautious. I was also sweating the 1000 mile run to UT. Amazingly it was not the worst night since it was interstate the whole way and the speed limit was 75.

Aaron Pfadt and Amanda Hennessy were great about passing out tips on Miller. They really helped me out there on my line and brake points. Some people seem to enjoy bashing on Amanda but I saw her being nice to kids when it was no benefit to her and going out of her way to help other competitors. I think some must be jealous they do not look as good in a racing suit (or most anything else) than she does. She is a racer and can drive a car. The second run at Miller started out great. I ended up trading spots with an STI for the last few laps a couple of times. We made power in different parts of the track and had a good safe time staying out of each others way. Unfortunately, on the third lap I managed to break the block. The car started to miss about Turn 4, the temp spiked at about T16 and shut off completely about T18. I coasted across the finish line to a 41st finish. But at that point the block was ventilated. We were coming up in the field quite nicely when it died. A total of five boosted cars bit the dust at Miller. It was disappointing but we decided to stay the course. Jon arranged pickup and shipment for the car. I packed up the gear we needed and the gear to be sent in the car back east. We finally picked up a G6 Pontiac in Salt Lake City about 7 PM and headed to Pueblo, CO.

The track at Pueblo is a lot of fun with Jon and I having a good time flinging the G6 around the track. The drive to Hallett was long and grueling afterwards. We did mange to find a small diner somewhere in OK that was open and had excellent New Mexican food. It was like being in their living room though. I learned a lot about OK vs NM DUI laws, probation violations and totalling Harley Davidson's in two states along with dinner.

Hallett is a great track and I wish I was able to geta complete lap on it. Unfortunately, the mountain run combined with Pueblo racetrack and Jon's morning run at Hallett used up what little brakes there was. On T4 of the warm up lap I knew the car was coming into the pits. It had zero brakes. Due to my zeal to get to the pit lane I managed to exceed the capability of the tires, brakes, car and driver. We all made a trip through the stickiest mud on the planet to come to rest on a tire wall. It was our only DNF all week. After getting pulled out and loaded we headed east to IN for the night. Luckily, the heavy rain washed the 20 pounds of mud packed into each of the front wheels off after an hour or so. I actually looked for puddles to drive through for a change. At Indy we swapped in the G6 for a Mustang. Life was much better. It was a good car to play with at ORP. Jon and I both had great sessions on the road course. We decided to skip the ET run (V6 Mustang, Duh) and head for OH early.

Mid Ohio was my favorite track of OLOA. I was really, really wishing for a C5 to play with there. Our run times there were very good for a V6 automatic Mustang. I think we took the rental car class hands down. It was worth hanging in there for Mid Ohio if nothing else. Jon finished us off with a dry skid pad at South Bend.

Glad I did it and I hope to do it again sometime soon. A reliable normally aspirated 3000 pound car with 400 HP and 400 TQ with a lot of tire (Michelin Pilot Sports) will do well at OLOA. You probably will not knock off the top 3 but everyone else will be nervous if you can drive.

I need more sponsorship to run it again...

Damn True
05-20-2007, 09:55 PM
My first One Lap of America (OLOA) is in the bag and I, naturally, have a few observations to make. Some quick comparisons to the Hot Rod Power Tour (HRPT) are in order I think.

Glad I did it and I hope to do it again sometime soon. A reliable normally aspirated 3000 pound car with 400 HP and 400 TQ with a lot of tire (Michelin Pilot Sports) will do well at OLOA. You probably will not knock off the top 3 but everyone else will be nervous if you can drive.

I need more sponsorship to run it again...

Hmmmm, I'm working on just such a car with this event in mind.

Sounds like a blast.

05-21-2007, 12:38 PM
Learn how to drive that car well and you will have a great time...

David Pozzi
05-21-2007, 10:21 PM
Wow! did you figure out how many miles you two covered?

Damn True
05-21-2007, 10:29 PM
Learn how to drive that car well and you will have a great time...

I plan to adopt Dave & Mary as surrogate parents to that end.

05-22-2007, 03:17 AM
Wow! did you figure out how many miles you two covered?

The base OLOA was ~4050 miles or so. With getting to South Bend and back we were around 6500 total:hmm: .