View Full Version : 2013 One Lap of America - Day 3

James OLC
05-08-2013, 07:30 AM
May 6th, 2013

After a thankfully uneventful transit stage to New Orleans and a decent nights sleep the Vintage American Team gathered at our cars at first light to set off to NOLA Motorsports Park. Our accommodations were pretty good but surprisingly (?) secure - 24 hour locks on all the doors, armed security in the parking lot, etc. - which we hadn't thought much about the night before (even during a short walk to the local Waffle House). As we loaded up the cars however, Jimi mentioned that he had come down to the AMX during the night and while in the parking lot had been startled by a gunshot down the street across from the hotel. As people started to scatter Jimi returned to the now explained safety of the hotel and caught up on a bit more sleep.

If you're keeping track at home, that's four One Laps, two gunshots...

Anyways, with the cars loaded and fuelled up we made the very short drive to NOLA Motorsports Park - a surprisingly beautiful facility just east of New Orleans. After pitting beside Kyle Tucker and Ryan Matthews from DSE (who are running hard in a quickly built but flawlessly executed 2012 Camaro) we took our traditional morning track walk around the 2.7 (?) mile road course.

Jimi had run the track previously at a tire demo earlier this year but it was new to the rest of us so he became the advisor for the group, running rough some of the nuances of the circuit and showing us the way around. Clearly he was going to be the man to beat today as knowledge in One Lap often trumps power. With the track walk finished we returned to the cars, did our final prep and waited for our turn to head out on this fast, challenging track.

While we were waiting, however, we FINALLY found the updated and corrected timing sheets from the previous days afternoon run at Talladega. Unfortunately, the OneLapCamaro was no longer shown in first overall... Fortunately though it did show that Mary had been able to make first in class... The missing digit had been in the middle... Sanity was restored and the OneLapTeam was feeling pretty good heading in to the day.

This year we have four pretty closely matched cars racing in the Vintage American class and we're making an effort to run as a group - for our own amusement and to show that "the old stuff" still has a place here. Today Jimi lined up first, followed by the OLC, Carl, and Michael Hickman (owner of the Original One Lap Camaro).

I'm going to digress for a quick second... One of the areas that Mary and I have paid a bit of extra attention to this year is safety. We've upgraded most of our safety gear and improved our overall level of personal protection. Part of that upgrade for both of us includes a HANS (Head And Neck Support) device. I've never run with one before but wow - what a great piece of equipment! And now, for the rest of our story...

The first run went really well for everyone... Jimi had a great run, we were right with him, and Carl was in the mix as well. Michael spun a couple of times but once again reminded everyone that he has been doing this for 20+ years and has a place near e top in the class. We came out of the session calling it too close to call between Jimi, Carl and I and when the official results came out it had been close - barely a second had separated first and second place.

The good news was that we has squeaked out the win! Jimi took second with Carl a close third about four seconds back. Our 31st overall finish in this first session put us 22nd overall in points and first in class. The goal for the afternoon was to do it again and maintain our solid performance and then get the heck out of town for what was to be a long 700 miles transit stage.

After a Cajun track lunch (I avoided the 'gator sausage gumbo this time) and watching Mary take an OLC fan for a parade lap it was back in the seat for round two. I knew that there were a couple of places to make up some time so I went out to try to pick up on the morning session and take one more shot at NOLA.

Once again the Vintage American group gridded together - Jimi took point (I prefer chasing to bing chased), I was second, Jon (driving Carl's car) was third and Michael started fourth. It wasn't a flawless run - I had the car pop out of 4th gear follows a downshift and I know that I can carry more speed through the esses on the back side but we got the job done. Barely ten minutes after we finished we were packed up and on our way to Daytona.

Traffic in New Orleans wasn't entirely awful and we got out of town relatively painlessly and quickly settled on to I-10 for our nine-hour transit. Just as we reached the outskirts of town the results were posted. I managed a seven second improvement over the morning run and clicked off another first in class (and respectable 25th overall). Jimi was right behind me in 26th a mere 3 seconds behind. Jon finished a solid third and Michael brought home fourth. We held on to our 22nd overall position and made our way down the road.

Long transit stages always have stories and tonight would be no different. Our first gas stop was in a small town about a mile off the interstate. When I say small I mean small. I think most (if not all) of the male population of town was at the gas station when we filled up. Even now I have no idea what most of them were saying but I know one guy kept looking at Carl funny after hearing that he was from California. We grabbed dinner at the grill in the station - a combination of fried chicken and fried catfish - grabbed some road food (m&m chocolate, jack links beef jerky and water) and got ourselves east bound and down for another few hours. Just after leaving town we lost our trailer lights... and our tail lights.... Damn. That makes us 100% for tail light problems at One Laps. With way too many miles to go I made the call to fix it at the next gas stop - a couple of hundred miles down the road.

What I had failed to take in to account was (a) there were a lot of troopers on the road tonight and (b) the final length of this run took us through the State capital. Hard to be inconspicuous in the OLC under normal circumstances... harder when running in the dark of night with no rear lights. Fortune was smiling on us and we made it to the gas stop and "quickly" found the culprit - the shorted license plate light had returned. Suffice it to say that we no longer have a license plate light. Problem solved.

The rest of the trip was long and uneventful. We pulled in to the hotel around 2 AM and settled in for a short nights nap...

Tomorrow we would drive the high banks of the Daytona Motor Speedway...