View Full Version : OLA 2013 - From the Trenches with Carl Casanova

05-06-2013, 10:44 AM
Seven days and 3,380 miles - to cover that much distance while behind the wheel of a car is a challenge in and of itself. But throw in multiple racing events per day on tracks that you have never driven before and you get an event that pushes driver and machine to their absolute limits mentally, physically, and mechanically. This is Brock Yates' One Lap of America - a spiritual successor to the original Cannoball Runs that saw competitors making a mad dash from New York City to Redondo Beach, CA in as little as 32 hours 51 minutes. Carl Casanova and his co-driver Jon Mahn are attempting to complete this endeavor in Carl's Hotchkis-equipped '68 Camaro, competing in the Vintage American class. Carl is sending us daily updates from the road to share with everyone what it's like to compete in this emotional roller coaster of an event. Stay tuned to this thread as we post these updates throughout the week.

A special thanks goes out to Carl's sponsors who helped make his journey possible:
Vintage Wheel Works (http://www.vintagewheelworks.com)
L.A. Prep Transport (http://bit.ly/13QPaAf)

First let's start with a little background on Carl and his motivation to finish this year's race:

Here is Carl dropping off the Honor Flight Camaro at L.A. Prep (http://bit.ly/13QPaAf) for transport out to Indiana.
Image Courtesy of: LA Prep Transport (https://www.facebook.com/LAPrepTransport)

What follows are the unedited emails, Facebook posts, text messages, and transcribed voicemails from Carl:

The car is on the way to Illinois but preparations continue on the human side as Jon and I try and absorb as much track information as possible. On the superstitious side of things, I'm taking along Dad's lucky rabbits foot that he carried while overseas in WWII, and his 3rd Infantry Division patch. Hopefully the rabbits foot still has some luck waiting to get out.

Upon landing in Chicago on Thursday there was a message waiting for me from my wife Kris. Seems the Camarillo fires were close enough to our home that the county started evacuations. Wonderful. Last year my father passes away on Day 3, and this year the house might burn down. Fortunately Kris is really good at handling stressful situations and took care of everything like a champ. Larry Callahan from Pro-Touring.com lives close to us. Knowing I was out of town he called and asked if she needed help. Seven other friends did the same thing. Without great friends and family doing the OLoA would be one heck of a lot more stressful.

While most people that travel might spend an evening at a show, seeing the sights, etc. the One Lap mandates something different. We've spent the last two hours studying the route maps and track guide that Brock Yates Jr.
handed out earlier today. We're glad we did as there are several major changes to some of the tracks that we had not planned on, so some adjustments must be made. Here's my co driver Jon, spending what's left of what could be called relaxation, studying the guide on the bed at the luxurious Super 8 hotel.

Skidpad - Team HFC was in first place Vintage American wet skid pad until the OLC knocked us down by 0.001g. Yes, one thousandth of a "g". Our 0.75g was pretty good until the Original One Lap Camaro turned a 0.795 wet g.


We're on our way to Grissom AFB for an SCCA organized autocross. We're starting to call ourselves, just between us, the Clown Car. Nobody can believe we can fit as much stuff as we have in the Camaro. My wife wondered why I spent four weeks packing, repacking, working out of the car, etc.


One of the real tests of an event like OLoA is what to do when something goes wrong. Note I avoided using "if" something goes wrong. If we can find an Autozone we have enough other "special" parts in our inventory to repair just about anything.

This is Jon's first time this far east so it's a double bonus for him. The Midwest this time of year is green and many flowers in bloom. The weathewr so far is cooperating but there's a 75% chance of rain tomorrow at Talladega. Keeping things dry, including ourselves, will not be fun.

So far everything is going according to plan. Plan your work, then work your plan.
(Images courtesy of TireRack.com (https://www.facebook.com/tirerack))

May 4, Grissom AFB to Talladega - Jon and I are deep into our first long transit stage, 602 miles, after finishing second in the Vintage American event at Grissom AFB. We're pleased so far with the car and the planning, but sometimes.... More on that in a few.

The HFC took 3rd in the Vintage American class wet skidpad event this morning. The Original One Lap Camaro driven by Mike Hickman and Damon Josz (23-time OLoA participants and seven time Vintage champions) took first overall with a 0.795g which placed them 8th overall, a fantastic result given the caliber of the cars. James Shipka and Mary Pozzi placed second, beating us by 0.003g. Yep, three thousandth's of a g. Wow.

The weather is a huge factor in an event like this. Rain or shine we take to track for our time trials. Today's events weather was perfect, but now heading into Talladega it is raining and cold.

One can do as much planning as possible before the event, but we still got a bit lost. Due to traffic signal changes we got separated from the group, and though we thought we followed the route map correctly, we missed our turn. It set us back 15 minutes but we're making good time and it helps that it's staying light out later.

Indiana must have an ordinance that taxes freeway billboard advertisements for anything besides fireworks and stripclubs. We counted 8/10 on one short stretch of highway. Unreal.

We just finished gassing up and getting a lovely dinner of beef jerkey and fresh bananas. James needed gas and this was the best they had to offer.
Welcome to the One Lap diet program. The HFC is knocking down 22mpg with close to 850lbs of humans and gear aboard.

We're 1/2-way done with Day 2 and unforunately your's truly had an off-track experience on T2 at Talladega Gran Prix. No damage done, but there will be mud on the bottom of the car for quite a while. We're hoping that my second run is better and that we made a few points back.

We're in-transit to Alabama Dragway for an ET and Bracket race. Rain is starting to fall so we may not be running.

It's a long week so we'll keep our heads up and try to pick our way back.

I'm working on photos but the electronics are not cooperating.

We just crossed the boarder into Mississippi and so far the Three Amigos and their steeds have been trouble free. In three hours and we'll be relaxing, a full four hours ahead of schedule.

It's 3:55pm local time just outside of Springville, AL and we are heading South on I20. Today we were dealt a double setback, one being of our own making, the other Mother Natures.

Last nights transit stage was a long one, about 610 miles, and that's after having done a 90 mile stage earlier in the day. Along the way James Shipka in OLC had to pull off due to a low voltage condition, but after a full check and a bit of diagnosis we think the car is fine. There may be a hiccup in the way his ISIS system controls the heater fan. No problem, power on.

A little while later we lost Jimi Day. At the previous fuel stop Jimi used three more gallons of fuel than the HFC, which is unusual since on earlier fill-ups we used almost the same amount of fuel. Now the car had no fuel pressure and the engine died. By the time James and I had turned around and found Jimi, he had "fixed" the engine bay fuel leak. It seems the AN6 to GM 3/8" adapter had come off of its plastic retaining clip. When this happened, the fuel pressure fell to zero and the engine lost power. Fortunately, Jimi's ECM shut down the fuel pump enable circuit. With this condition the amount of fuel pumped from the open line was minimized. Jimi was very, very lucky that there was not a serious underhood fire. The open fuel line was just over the valve covers and the headers were wrapped, hence able to soak up fuel. It's safety details like these that can mean the difference between loving your car and seeing it burn.

Jimi drove the car about a mile to the nearest gas station where we pulled a space AN6 fitting out of our spare parts kit. It is the newer Russell part that has a U-nut to hold the body of the fitting in place vs. the plastic clip. Since Jon and I had been preparing for such occurrences we knew exactly where the tools and parts were. 10 minutes later we were all on the road again.

The Super8 hotel in Munford, AL was booked full for the NASCAR race at Talladega. Fortunately we had made reservations many months ago, but $200/night is steep. It's better than having to drive an hour or more in the morning to try and find the track. It was much nicer than the old-sock smelling (WOW, some car almost ran us off the road!!!) South Bend Super8, and has giant NASCAR photos over the beds. It's NASCAR country......


The weather forecast for Talladega when we looked last night was 80% chance of rain. We're prepared for that, but the rain held off and the HFC set out to run the qualifying round. At One Lap there is one recon lap, then three hot laps. I drove recon and first lap well, but came in a bit hot and early on T2 and the back end of the car started to come around. It was close, but in the end grass does not have as much traction, and the HFC did a very nice pirouette through the muddy swap. It also meant the car got stuck in the wet grass and mud, so I had the extra fun honor of having the red flag waved due to my running out of talent. Fortunately the newly installed tow strap worked just fine. Maybe it jinxed us too.

After the tow out of the bog the car got a good hosing to remove said terra firma, but no doubt it will be falling out of nooks and crannies from under the car for a while.

Brock Yates, The Man for OLoA, let me run the second session with a similar run group with Jimi Day and Damon Josz. I fared better but was hesitant at times. After this morning, discretion is the better part of valor.

All of us packed up and headed to Alabama Dragway to do an ET and Bracket eliminator round. Yesterday I was a bit hesitant to drag race. Like many other cars the HFC is not set up for it, but after this morning and the loss of points, I had hoped that we might gain some back with a good showing. Alas, Mother Nature spoiled our plans and it rained, so no drag racing this year.

We're having a great time just seeing the sights. It's such a beautiful part of the country to see, and doing it with friends and great cars makes it that much better. Yes, we want to do well, but we also want to enjoy the moment.

Our transit tonight is pretty easy, 408 miles, and with just over five hours to go we'll get a good nights sleep. Well, Jon might as I have dreams of what I should have in T2.

Stay tuned for tomorrows adventures at New Orleans Motorsports Park, and our longest single transit stage to Daytona Beach, FL, 649 miles.

Monday morning May 6 in Westwago, LA. After a, thankfully, uneventful transit stage last night we're headed to New Orleans Motorsports Park. The LS3 powered 1986 944 Porsche is competing in the Vintage Foreign class.

Today the Haynie family came out to watch the OLoA events at NOLA. They were definitely the best dressed folks there sporting their new Vintage American t-shirts. It was great to have Bill, Kathy, and Caleb come out and put names to faces. We were able to give them parade lap rides during the lunch break too. Thank you so much for coming out and cheering us on, and thanks to Kyle Tucker for playing photographer.

NOLA! What an awesome place. It's not even two years old but it's a fantastic place to have a track day. It's a good thing I don't live closer or I'd visit far to often.
Images Courtesy of NOLA Motorsports (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nolamotorsports/sets/72157633435046068/)

Day three of competiton events are over and we're on the 650 mile transit leg to Daytona Beach. The HFC is fourth in class and running well. It was great to have the Haynie's family come out to see us today. Having others that we have never met extend their friendship and offers of assistance reminds us of just how great a world we live in.

East Bound and Down on I10. Who wants to bet if Mary Pozzi is faster than a Redneck? It's going to be a battle of the racing trailers with Kyle and Mary hammering it out.....

05-06-2013, 10:45 AM
May 6, 2013 OLoA

Jon and I are well into the longest transit stage from New Orleans to Daytona Beach, FL after a great day at New Orleans Motorsports Park.

After yesterdays rain cancellation of the drag races we headed south to New Orleans. Since Jon and Mary had never been to a Waffle House we decided to partake in all that they have to offer, plus they shared the same parking lot as our hotel. It filled the hole in our bellies but that's about it. Jon and Mary were not, fittingly, impressed.

In today's technological age we often rely too much on electronics to do the thinking for us. For example, we were running point on the last leg to the hotel. Since the hotel was not in the last part of OLoA route book, we had our own to finish the leg. New Orleans is a spaghetti bowl of roads and highways, so one GPS had us going one way, another GPS had a second, and our paper route had a third. We decided that the paper route was likely incorrect based on the route and the river crossings. The first GPS took us to US-91 Business, the other to US-91. The hotel address is US-91, not business, so GPS#1 wanted to have us stop in an empty field in an area where bullet proof vests would be in order. Fortunately GPS#2 had the correct route, and all we had to do was go a few miles further. An old fashioned hard copy Thomas Guide would have been the best. This morning the same thing happened when our GPS and hard copy did not match Jimi's GPS for how to get to the track a mere 3.8 miles away.

NOLA is a very new track and is one of the nicest tracks I've been to. The facilities are wonderful and there is plenty of room both in the pits and past corner exit in case there are troubles. It is also very flat so it's easier to see far in front.

I was first up today after walking the track with the gang. Jimi had run NOLA during the BFG Rival launch several months ago so he had good knowledge of the track. We came in third in the Vintage American class behind James and Jimi, but happy that the car is working well and that our track education is paying off. Running fast on an unfamiliar track is super exciting, and it is very easy to make mistakes. I lost my corner count on the esses and got out of sync, making me slower than I should have been. After every event I look back and say "I could have..... I should have..... If I just had a few more laps......

Today was Jon's first time to drive the HFC in anger on an unfamiliar track. It's a whole different gig. Jon did great and finished third in class and moving us up in the point standings. We quickly packed up and hit the road for Daytona, a mere 652 miles..

Four hour delay since I stopped writing the above. OLC needed fuel, the humans some refreshments, and it was my turn to drive. We stopped at a dinky little Chevron station somewhere in Florida about a mile off I10. This station was small, but so was the town, and it seemed the bulk of the male population was hanging out there. We're talkin' good 'ol boys. They must have thought aliens had invaded as the three of us pulled in. There must have been 8-10 guys that came by over the next 15 minutes to talk and be friendly. Like most of America they just dig cool stuff, and the cars did it for them. We also took some photos of a great sign that you won't find in most places that had us all laughing. Plus, one should also take in the local cuisine when possible, so we ate a road snack there as well. The first half of the fried catfish in a plain white paper bag was OK, the second half had the consistency of a well worn but crispy knobby tire. I stopped after that bite hoping my gut will win the ensuing battle.


We saw this sign in the same gas station parking lot as the "catfish." Too funny!


Another great thing that happened today was that the Bill, Kathy, and Caleb Haynie family showed up to support us and watch the OLoA events. They are super nice people, and it was a pleasure to meet them. They also took parade laps around NOLA at lunch time so they got to see the track from the passenger seat of the HFC, OLC, and AMXess. Thank you to the Haynie family, it's folks like you that remind us that human nature is not the doom and gloom on the news, but individual doing good deeds for others.

Had to stop at a gas station and fix the tail lights on the OLC. Seems the running lights went out. Fortunately it was an easy fix with only 30 minutes lost, so we're looking at a 1:30am arrival in Daytona if all goes well. We'll be doing good to get four hours sleep tonight.

My wife's parents are coming to Daytona tomorrow to cheer us on. It's great to have another cheering section come out, and like the Haynie's they will be wearing their Honor Flight T-shirts.

11:00pm May 6, 2:35 minutes to go on the GPS. Please check in tomorrow for more updates on the Honor Flight Camaro's progress.

I had the opportunity to chat with Carl briefly during his midnight transit and asked him how he was feeling about running at Daytona, especially after his spin at Talladega.

Daytona is intimidating, period. It's by far the fastest and hardest on brakes that the car will have ever seen. Plus the place is storied with such history. It's going to be an awesome experience.

As always, Carl was nothing but optimistic and upbeat, even during the long drive from NOLA to Daytona.

Hello Daytona!

Got banking?

Time for some 200mph tape?

The in-laws, Jim and Kathy Wittersheim, came out to root on Team Honor Flight. It's a bonus that they are the best dressed too.

155mph at Daytona!! Anyone who says that driving the high banking is not intimidating is nuts! The HFC has more in her but the driver practiced discretion (chickened out.) All of the preparation was worth that seven minutes of pure adrenaline.

The only three cars that were allowed to pose for photos at the start/finish line at Daytona. What an honor!

Co-driver of the Honor Flight Camaro Jon Mahn ponders the future as he prepares to take to the Rolex course at Daytona Motor Speedway.

We made sure to take the time and savor our moments at Daytona. What an incredible experience. Thank you to Brock Yates Jr. and the One Lap of America crew for checking off more than one bucket list item today.

We're on our way to Camden, SC for our next event at Carolina Motorsports Park and the BMW Performance Center. Jon had a spin in the bus-stop during his session, and upon restarting he thought he heard a metallic sound coming from the car. Being safe than sorry, Jon brought the car back to the pits to make sure there was no damage. We want to do well at the events, but we're only 1/2-way through, and making it back to South Bend is the goal. The car appears to be fine after an inspection and we're making good time as we head toward Savannah.

May 7, 2013 OLoA @ Daytona Motor Speedway.

We made it to Daytona and finally hit the pillow at about 2:30am, so just a little over three hours of sleep for us today. Fortunately my brain must have a OLoA clock built in because technology failed me again. Seems my Verizon service did not update the time in my BlackBerry, so it was still on Central time. I woke up at 6:10am, looked at the clock, and got my butt in gear to meet my in-laws for breakfast at 6:30am. It was so nice of them to come out and support us.

We headed over to the track right after a quick breakfast since there was some gear lube on the inside of the left-rear wheel. After an inspection it appears that the leak is coming from the axle seal but does not appear to be significant. A small amount of oil can make the leak look big. Given the timeframe we decided to clean the wheel and run the first session. It took a while to clean off all of the Florida-sized bugs off the windshield as well.

All of us headed out to walk the track. Daytona is an amazing facility. The sheer size of it is intimidating for us mere mortals. Standing on the 31-degree banking is and looking down makes one wonder what in the heck is it really going to be like running at speed. We would soon find out.

Some cars are starting to have some mechanical difficulties. Some have lost transmission gears, electronic sensor malfunctions, tire blowouts, etc. Not many have dropped out, and nobody wants to see it happen. When someone is having a problem, they don't need to ask for help since there will be a dozen others offering assistance.

I was very nervous, and exited, to start the first session. I had driven simulators, watched videos, and talked to a bunch of OLoA veterans about how to handle Daytona. None of that will quell the intimidation factor, but if it was not exciting why go at all?

Our run group set off for the recon lap. John Hotchkis had sent some really good track advice on how to run the course, but it is really hard to overcome the look of the banking. It's just huge. Fortunately the transition to the banking was not as dramatic as thought, and the best thing to do was to get going fast as soon as possible after the exit turn to the banking.

After stopping at the infield start/finish I set off on the first lap at speed. It's hard to describe just how big Daytona is and how long the course takes to get around. The infield is standard fare, but the banking and straights are where speed and bravery meet. Exiting the bus-stop and heading toward the oval start/finish is the fastest part of the track. Even though the car had more in it, it was tough to overcome the fear-factor of coming into start/finish under full throttle and make the infield T1. In the end we finished 2nd in class behind Jimi Day who has run Daytona before and had run well there. Track experience means more than a fast car, so were pleased. I also hit a personal goal of 155mph.

Just had a 2.5hour stop to fix the shocks in Jimi's car. I'm driving the final leg so can't finish this until tomorrow night.

After getting out of the car my first thought was that all of the work, preparation, heartache, etc. was worth it. Bucket list item checked off.

During the lunch break we were given the opportunity of a lifetime. James, Jimi, and I were allowed to stage our cars at the start/finish line of Daytona to take photos. What an honor is is, especially since the car makes its home in California, to be able to straddle the checkers with such good friends.

In the afternoon Jon took his turn at running the second session. His recon lap went well but on entering the bus stop on his first lap he came in a bit too hot and spun the car. After getting going again he thought there was a metallic sound coming from somewhere, so he brought the car back to the pits. Fortunately the car was OK. Yes we lost points again, but the week is long and we really want to finish and not break.

We got on the road late afternoon and headed toward our next stop in Camden, SC, but we had a two hour detour repairing Jimi's AMX. The banjo fitting got ripped out of one due to an interference problem perhaps caused by the forces at Daytona. Fortunately James had a spare set of shocks that, thought not perfect, worked well enough that Jimi will try to finish OLoA with them.

By the time we get to the hotel, check in, and hit the pillow it's close to 2:30am. Get up at 6:00am, eat some wonderful Holiday Inn eggs (there's no way those are eggs) and toast, get gas, and head to Carolina Motorports Park.

Three hours of sleep but finished second in Vintage American at CMP in the morning session. Don't know Jon's result yet. I have to prepare for BMW this afternoon after a 150 mile transit stae.

We negleted to bring along a way to download from our good cameras, and the Ipad is not a good action photo taker, so sorry for the lack of them.

Jon finished third in class this afternoon in Vintage American and we're picking our way back up the leader board after the two spins that cost us dearly in points.

We just finished up at the BMW Performance center where we ran three laps instead of the expected one. We're super happy finishing 2nd in class just 0.64 seconds behind Fast Mary Pozzi and 22nd overall.

We're off to VIR to spend the night at the track. Our hotel rooms are above the garage we rented, and there is a nice place to eat there too.

When we stop for gas the cars are like rock stars! Here we are gassing up somewhere along I85 North.

05-06-2013, 10:46 AM
Here is the continuation of Carl's Recap:

May 8.

Jon and I wanted to get there early to take our time and walk the track. CMP would be run in two different configurations and it was good to see them both. Once the run groups started we managed to gather all of the Vintage American cars so we could run together. Our times are similar enough that passing is unlikely and it's great to be able to run together. Unfortunately while waiting in line a very fast Evo went even faster into a tire wall that separates two sections of the track. He went too fast through the kink, over-corrected, and shot back across the track on to the slippery wet grass. Given the number of tires that got their carcasses clobbered we thought the car was done. Fortunately not only was the driver fine, but the car had little damage.

As we had planned I ran the morning session. The recon lap was slippery with the tires cold so it was hard to gauge what speeds and gears to use. I put my game face on and gave it all I dared to give, and in the end almost passed Mike Hickman in the Original One Lap Camaro and finished just two seconds behind Mary Pozzi for a second place in class.

Jon went out in the second session with the track warmer but it had less grip. He finished 3rd in class behind Mary and Jimi.

Jon immediately pulled into the pits and we got the car loaded for our 154 mile transit to the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC. The track is like mini road course/large autocross but with a lot of elevation changes and blind corners. OLoA wanted all of the Vintage American cars to run together, along with a kit Daytona, so that the crowd could see the old iron out pounding their great track. On the recon lap there were several things different than the past, namely that there were cones placed to slow us down. On one of them, the placement also meant that the downhill side was totally blind even though there was a turn 1/2-way down. Like earlier in the day I hammered-down and managed a 2nd in class just 0.64 seconds behind Mary, and 22nd overall. At the track I thought I would do the worst at, might just be my best. With this finish we are now tied for third place going into VIR tommorrow.

The transit to VIR tonite is thankfully short, just 235 miles, and we are staying in hotel rooms above garages that we rented at the track. This will give us precious more sleep as we head into what has been for me the most difficult track to figure out, VIR.

Stay tuned for more updates, and thanks for your support!

May 9.


Team Three Amigos stayed in hotel rooms at VIR directly above garages that we rented for the day. It's also great that the balcony overhangs pit entry and is just a few feet from the front straight. If one likes road courses, it does not get any better. The facilities are wonderful.


Jon and I discussed some strategy on the transit leg last night. We settled on me driving all of VIR but he drives all of Pittsburgh. It was time for me to put on my game face and git 'er done on all three different track configurations of VIR.

For the two morning sessions the groups would run the South course first then head directly to the North. Each contains some elements of the much larger main course, but the fastest part would not be seen until the main event in the afternoon.


About 30 minutes before our run group we managed to get a great photo of the three of us getting staged. As I stood there looking back at the three cars, our co-drivers helping to keep us orderly, and the great track in the background, I reminisced about my Dad. It had been exactly one year since he had passed away. I was here because of him, and fortunately Jon was able to help stage the car since I needed some time to collect my composure before climbing in and driving her in anger.

Dad's 3rd ID patch and lucky rabbits foot have been making the journey the front seat with us. Thank you Dad for all that you have done for me, our family, and the world.

South course is fairly short but with one pretty fast straight that required a lot of whoa at the end in order to make the off-camber 180 turn aptly named Bitch. We had walked the course earlier, almost four miles worth, to get a better idea of how to tackle the different arrangements. I'm glad we did since the strategy we came up with paid off. The car worked flawlessly. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires had great grip, the Kore3/Hawk brakes inspired confidence, the cool damp air + some high octane fuel meant lots of power, and the Hotchkis suspension was simply on fire. If was as if the stars aligned just right at that moment in time. I managed a class win for the first time at OLoA. I was stoked. That rabbits foot does have some luck left in it!

The North course is a different monster. It's more technical and has several sections that if one comes in a bit hot or off line, bad things happen. Similar to the first session the car worked great but I was a bit more tentative due to not wanting to make another big mistake. James took first place by two seconds, I was second, and Jimi came in fourth after going off track between Roller Coaster and Pig Pen. Jimi finished the session and got back to the garage at the same time as James and I. We all went into fix-it mode. In less than 10 minutes the car was in the air, everyone was working to get tools, chunks of mud, checking for damage, removing damaged components, etc. Though we compete individually on-track, we travel and help each other as a team. After about an hour AMXess was as ready to go as it could for the third and final run.

A new Mercedes Gull Wing went off course in the same place as Jimi, but unlike Jimi the Gull Wing was not moveable. There was a 45 minute delay as the track workers collected the the car, so we all sat around in the shade talking with other competitors. It was really nice to do since often there is not time to chat with fellow drivers.

It finally became go-time and the day had become pretty warm so the track conditions had changed. The Gull Wing had also dragged a bunch of dirt on the track so as the first one out in our group I had the distinction of having to go through it first. Fortunately the cleanup-on-isle-7 crew did a great job so there were no concerns. Some new elements were now added since we were running the main configuration, so the outlap was a bit tentative to get a feel for it. It felt great again, like the early morning session. My confidence was high after having seen much of the difficult sections in the morning. The one part that was hard to get over was the crest on the back straight. It's a very fast, 150mph blind crest. Aim for the middle and keep the throttle matted. If I had a hundred laps there it would likely be easy to do, but with only one practice shot it sure made the adrenaline flow when taking it at speed. With lap times almost double the morning sessions it was tiring as well. In the end we took first in class and gaining precious points.[/quote]

One of the most inspiring things about the One Lap of America is the camaraderie it inspires among its competitors. Though they were all there representing competing brands, the guys from Team Honor Flight Camaro and Team One Lap Camaro came together to help the "White Monster" when it was having electrical issues.

The White Monster is having some charging problems. On the OLoA there's no shortage of willing and able folks to help, run for parts, etc.

The transit stage went well as we headed to Pittsburgh International Raceway. We stopped at a gas station along the route in Virginia to feed the cars and crews. Subway felt like a gourmet meal. We wanted to stand to eat instead of trying to drive, so my Dad joined us at the dinner table as we spread our food out on the trunk of the Honor Flight Camaro.


As we ate a couple pulled in in an SUV and opened up the hatch. There stands a dog wearing sunglasses and a bandana. Curiosity got the best of me so I went over and talked to the gentleman and asked about his dog. This dog was sooooo cool. He just hung out there and watched what was going on. The owner then says "Say hi Bucky. I'll give you some squirrel meat if you say hello." The dog then looks at me and gives a woof. It was hilarious.


We finished up our ride to the hotel with no drama or breakage. Tomorrow is really looking like it's going to be very wet. Ugh. Everyone else has to deal with it too so we'll all be on the same footing.

May 10, 2013

We decided to get up early and get a good breakfast since the hotel had a restaurant and it was an important day for us to do well. Jon is as nervous and excited as can be. His confidence was back after the spin at Daytona, but neither of us had driven on a road course in the rain. We headed for the track and fortunately it was still dry, but just as we start setting up in the pits the rain starts. After managing to get all of our gear under tarps and in giant Zip-Loc bags, we donned our rain gear and walked the track.

During our previous walks there was excitement and nervousness. Today was different for Jon. He was obviously under a lot of stress. Having to go fast in the rain is daunting, and knowing that if he does not do well will mean we will have no chance of catching Jimi in the standings. As the co-driver I do my best to keep him grounded and focused on the task at hand and to encourage a mindset of just do your best, don't hurt the car, and we want to make it back to South Bend.

PIR is a small track but it has some fun technical aspects. Un uphill blind T6 and blind kink on the main straight make for some exciting moments. A wet track makes it darn scary, but fortunately just before the session begins the rain stops and a light warm breeze arrives. Though not dry when Jon starts, at least the heavens have not reopened to drench the track.

All of the Vintage American cars again ran together with Mary leading the pack but leaving in short intervals since the lap times would be in the 1:20 range. James and I stood next to each other and tried to gauge how each car was doing. Nobody looked like they were getting out of control, but there was obvious and understandable hesitation on some sections. Everyone stayed clean, no spins, etc. When the checkers flew James and I agreed that Mary was not comfortable due to her falling back, but it was difficult to gauge how well Jimi and Jon had done. Jon got out of the car and his hands were shaking. It was a pretty wild ride, one of the most exhilarating of his life.

The three drivers got out of the cars and started comparing notes. All of them were saying "I was sliding all over the place!" or "I almost lost it twice coming out of T7!" but none of them thought that they had done well since driving in the rain is such a struggle to feel like you're going fast. When the results were posted all of us had our mouths hang open. Jon not only won the session, but did so in convincingly. He not only finished first in class, he took the 21st overall position in that session, and that is against cars with lots of electronics like anti-lock brakes and stability control. His win also meant that we had gained 10 points on Jimi, and now Team Honor Flight Camaro was a mere five points behind with just two event to go.

In the wet at PIR and Jon finished first in class for Vintage American! We are now five points behind Jimi in the AMXess. Each finishing position has a five point difference, so it is game on in Vintage. Great job by all the cars as nobody went off and the track is in good shape, for now, as more rain and cold is predicted.

It was lunch time so we head over to get some food. It was one of those open-air roach coaches where it was easy to see what was going on. The Greek food smelled great, and they had Garbage Fries, a concoction of fries, butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, and a few other ingredients. Another rule of OLoA is to get your food early since often the lines get long and it takes a while to get food. This line was the worst of all and crawled. After about 10 minutes of not moving in line, it became obvious that there was only one person doing all of the duties in the coach. Ugh. After walking away, checking out the pro shop, the garage areas, walking parts of the track again, etc. we came back to the line and the guys that were in front of us were still in line! We both went back to our protein bars, almonds, trail mix, and sunflower seeds for our lunch calories.

The second session started with a dry track so all of the cars were going much faster. The Vintage American class took to the track again while James and I watched. As the session went on we both agreed that Jimi had likely pulled away from Jon, but anything else was tough to gauge. Everyone came in and again were very excited and happy about their run. It was only 1:15 in the afternoon with a 407 mile transit so we did not kill ourselves to get out of there ASAP. We hit the road with all of us waiting anxiously for the session results to post. All of us were on our Ipads pressing the refresh button every few minutes. The rain again began falling as did the temperatures, but there was an air of lightness amongst all of us. We were going to make it to South Bend and complete a journey.

Wow! Jimi Day found an extra accellerator pedal in AMXess this afternoon and finished a mere 0.3 seconds behind Mary Pozzi. Damon Josz was also flying and finished third ahead of Jon. Based on points unless Jimi can't make the dry skid pad tomorrow he will finish in second place, but we still have work to do to keep our third postion secure against the always strong Damon/Mike car. Congratulations Jimi, you da man!

James Shipka and Mary Pozzi in OLC have secured 1st place. Congratulations on a fourth consecutive win. That is an awesome achivemet.

Given the two DNF's that we had I'm still very pleased that we clawed our way back up the leader board. I wonder how well we could do if we came back again next year.....

The results finally posted, and Mary won the session, but Jimi Day was the star finishing a mere 0.3 seconds behind Mary. Jon finished fourth believing that he had a very strong finish. Hats off to Jimi Day for an outstanding finish and distancing AMXess from us. We were back to 15 points behind them with a single event to go.

Jon and I talked over what might play out for the dry skid pad. With each finishing position worth five points, in order for us to tie we needed to finish three spots better than Jimi. OLC and the Original One Lap Camaro are both strong contenders on the skidpad, but I would need to beat them and they would need to beat Jimi. In other words, we would need to win the skidpad and Jimi would need to come in fourth just to tie in points. That was not going to be easy to do given all of the tire on OLC and the past excellent performances by the OOLC. There were no other competitors that we felt could be spoilers.

We arrived in South Bend and decided we wanted to go have a nice dinner since we had arrived early. We threw on our best duds, as best as they are after seven days in a car, and went to downtown South Bend. We had a great time reminiscing about the past week and how it's hard to believe that it will be over the next day. Lightweight Mary Pozzi decided to have not one, but two lemon drop martinis so it was an entertaining evening as we watched Mary transform. An acoustic band came in around 9:00pm playing old songs from the 60's-70's. Though the food was disappointing for some, it was a great way to share and relax.


Thankfully the crazy antics from our earlier Super8 stay did not re-emerge. Seems the family that was operating the place had lots of their family "visiting" there as well. They dominated the check in and eating areas all hours of the day. Their children were going berserk and the parents yelling all kinds of things at them. Ugh. I don't like to butt into family matters but it can be infuriating watching family train wrecks and how it affects children. I gave a silent reminder to myself to be a better dad, and to write a nasty gram to Super8 corporate.

May 11

We needed to be at Tire Rack by 8:00 for a group photo. It was cold and damp. We unloaded the car and again did the tarp gig to keep things dry. The photo op was quick and we headed back to the pits to get ready. I put my driving suit on early since it is the warmest garment that made the trip. James and Jimi did the same and we gathered in front of the HFC. The HFC was idling with the heater on and all three co-drivers piled inside. Ever try to fit three people in the front of a 1st-gen Camaro? They were very warm in there.


We were to run in the reverse order of our overall standings, so we were to follow the Honda Odyssey minivan (a mere 550hp minivan sponsored by Honda Motor Corp.) but they dropped out the day before. Being that it was so cold there was no way the tires would get warm in the normal manner, so Jon and I had planned to let the car idle for a long time before the event to let the engine and exhaust heat warm the tires. About 10 minutes before we took to the track the front tires were lukewarm and the rears about 15 degrees colder. Not great, but better than what they might be given the low 50's temperature.

Damon was first out in the OOLC, followed by me, Jimi, and then James. I saw Damon run but could not, nor did I want to, hear his results. Since the rear tires were colder I did a burnout on the way to the first staging area. The car ahead of me cleared the track and it was my turn to go.

I tried not to over-think the situation. Listen to the tires, easy on the throttle inputs, and stay as close to the cones as possible. Though it may not seem like it, under those conditions this event is a rush. I was making constant steering corrections and throttle adjustments in order to keep the tires just squealing. The first two laps are counter clockwise, the second two clockwise. After finishing I passed Jimi who was waiting his turn. He gave me a thumbs up, and yelled at him to do his best. Yes, we want to win, but only when our competitors give it their best, especially when they have become such good friends. None of us were holding back.

I parked the Camaro in the first available parking spot and ran back to the track with my helmet, gloves, and suit still on. Jon, Mary, and Saroja were there watching and keeping track of the event. They said I had done just over one "g" CCW, and averaged .987g, just edging out Damon. Jimi was up next, and after his run he was behind Damon with a 0.96g. The points tie would be decided by James. If James beat me then Jimi would be five points ahead of us. If James did not, Jimi and I would tie on points. James went out and made his run as Jimi and I watched. We could not clearly hear the results, but we thought that James had won. Jimi and I gave each other a big hug and congratulated each other as fellow competitors and friends. However, the past verbal results did not always match the official, so we needed to wait until the event was over before knowing for sure.

In the meantime I gave James a ride to get the rental car. At the South Bend airport we passed a Military Honor Park full of old weapons and history. How appropriate and destined was it that this place presented itself. After dropping James off I went back and took some photos of the car there, but there was one place that was special to to me. There was a memorial for those that served during WWII in the Battle of the Buldge. My dad participated in that battle in Patton's 3rd Infantry Division making that awful walk to relieve the 101'st Airborne at Bastion. It must have been fate that Dad's 3rd ID patch made the ride with me, and appropriate that it be laid on the monument for a moment of reflection and photos.

By this time the results were in. We had placed first in class for the dry skidpad, and Jimi finished fourth. Though we tied in points Jimi get 2nd place since his overall time is lower. Our earlier DNF's killed us. Congratulations to James and Jimi for their outstanding performances, especially for James since it is his fourth consecutive Vintage win.


It's now been 24 hours since it has ended.

At the end of the event as we are heading back to drop off the cars and square things away, I look back at our adventures and how they have effected me. I knew Jimi Day before, but now after spending so much time with him I'm happy to call him and Saroja friends. Jon and I set out to finish, and we did that without too much trouble. We met some great people and made new OLoA friends. Though we made some gigantic errors in the beginning, we fought our way back, winning the last four out of six events. We have the capability to better.

Going back to sticker day, the day before driving events started, I went over to say hi to Damon Josz and Mike Hickman. They remembered why I had to leave last year and were offering their condolences. Damon then chimed in, "You got bit." He was right. The OLoA does that to you. Once bit, it's hard to get the poison out. Perhaps the next OLoA will be a redeeming event for us to show we can do better. Those are the poisons, the great people and the wish to compete in one of the most grueling automotive events, the One Lap of America.

After spending far too much time working on the car, away from home, etc. I get home on Mother's Day and my wonderful wife has a keychain gift for me! There's star on the other side similar to the gold stars on the car as well. Without her I could not have gone on this fantastic uniquely American adventure. Thank you to the greatest wife in the world.

More to come as I catch up on life, and sleep.

05-06-2013, 10:47 AM
[Space Reserved for More Updates #3]

05-06-2013, 11:30 AM
Glad to hear all is well and no major issues!

05-06-2013, 01:01 PM
I enjoyed reading that. Cant wait for the next installment. Carry on Carl.

05-06-2013, 01:04 PM
GO! Carl

05-06-2013, 04:20 PM
Way to go Carl!

Fuuny thought: Although Jimmy fixed it, who better to have help with a fuel issue? Mr. Vaporworx himself!

05-06-2013, 04:48 PM
Been following on Facebook - you guys are doing great!!

05-06-2013, 08:27 PM
I'm the designated gas guy for the trip so I wrenched on Jimi's car. We're a team on the road but the track is a different story. It was an easy fix but that kind of failure is just too darn scary.

We're an hour out rom our hotel, so a 1:30am arrival. My in-laws are staying at the same hotel so I'm having a quick breakfast with them at 6:30am, then all of us are off to Daytona!!!!

My electronics are not cooperating this week so uploading photo has been a real challenge. There are some things about Ipads that are infuriating.

05-07-2013, 07:46 AM
Congrats on the journey so far!

05-07-2013, 07:58 AM
New updates posted including a wrap-up of Monday's events and updates from the tarmac of Daytona.

David Pozzi
05-07-2013, 09:59 AM
Here's a Facebook photo at Daytona featuring the "Three Amigos".

05-07-2013, 10:47 AM
Freakin AWESOME!! David we should be there!....I have a car!

Here's a Facebook photo at Daytona featuring the "Three Amigos".

Larry Callahan
05-07-2013, 02:15 PM
Here is what I think of when I hear "Three Amigos" LOL!


05-07-2013, 02:21 PM
My James, what big hands you have. Too funny!

05-07-2013, 02:48 PM
That is frickin' hilarious, Larry. Needs to be up on FB like NOW!!

05-07-2013, 07:36 PM
Here is what I think of when I hear "Three Amigos" LOL!


LOL Coffee..... out nose..... on keyboard

05-08-2013, 05:55 PM
New updates posted!

David Pozzi
05-08-2013, 06:23 PM
Here they are at a gas stop near VIR.

05-13-2013, 11:16 AM
Updates through the end of the event have been posted. We'll be sitting down with Carl this week to bring you of his thoughts once he has had a chance to decompress a little bit and reflect on the event. Lots more photos to come too!

John Wright
05-13-2013, 03:07 PM
Very nice thread Carl...enjoyed the reading.