View Full Version : 2013 One Lap of America - Day 6

James OLC
05-10-2013, 02:40 AM
Thursday May 9th, 2013

Virginia International Raceway (VIR) is a daunting track - or should I say tracks. It's old, it's fast, and it's just got a lot going on - elevation changes, carousels, roller coasters, and more blind corners an should probably be allowed. They have run just about every circuit you can imagine on the track - including NACAR (there is actually a turn on the track named NASCAR in recognition of the large number of drivers who did NOT make the turn) - and now it was our turn,

I was handling the driving duties for the day - we were running three configurations, the South Course, the North Course, and the Full Course which ties the North and South Circuits together. Both the North and the South courses have 5th gear straightaways and both agave some huge elevation changes. I had only seen the track in video games and felt that I knew the course well enough to get around it but also knew that the OLC was not geared well for the faster straights. Still I thought we had a good chance to maintain our momentum and finish well.

The day didn't get off to a promising start as soon as I opened the door to my trackside room and realized that I couldn't see the track... it was that foggy... and wet... yuck. Fortunately it wasn't raining and I was optimistic that it would burn off... or blow over... or something...

Flip flopping from the previous days plans I set off walking the track (or in this case tracks) while Mary prepped the car. VIR is around 4 miles long so I set off briskly to try to see all three configurations we would be running... which was easier said than done. It was close but I think I made it with about 10 minutes to spare. It was an interesting walk... There is always some kind of track prep going on before a session but is was the first time I can recall six guys in three trucks on Goose Poop patrol...

With the track walk done and the car prepared we gridded for our South Course run and tire to focus on the task at hand. Our engine problems loomed large mentally - we can't afford a total failure or a safety disqualification so I was concerned about the long sat straights... A second problem quickly took my focus as we had less fuel in the car than I had hoped... I knew we were low after our transit but thought we had ample left for the first session... We has barely five gallons in the tank.

As I left for my recon lap I was watching my mirrors for smoke and the gas gauge for a hint - would there be enough? I had it down as hit or miss...

Wen the green dropped I was on point with Carl behind me, followed by Jimi and Damon. To say that my laps were a hot mess would be an understatement... I just wasn't focused. Carl was getting closer in my rear view every lap and while I wasn't blowing as much blue smoke as we had the previous day, my speeds on the long straights were about 15 mph slower than they should have been. As our mascot would say.... Ruh Roh...

Wen we finished I knew that Carl had kicked by butt. I told Mary so many times during the drive to the North Track staging area, I told her repeatedly. I used colourful verbiage to explain my feelings. I was less than flattering in my self evaluation of driving skills. It plain sucked and I knew it. When the results came out they confirmed it... Carl took first, Damon second, Jimi third and we were fourth.... Ugh... We have a good lead in class but much more of that and it will be gone...

After adding six gallons of trackside hi-test we staged for the North Track where I was... eager for an opportunity to redeem myself. This time the green flag dropped and I was focused... There was gas in the car and while we may be low on power I was going to drive like everything was fine and hope for the best. I certainly wasn't perfect but this time I got the job done, finishing first in class and 24th overall. Carl was a close second (and in 26th overall) followed by Damon and Jimi in the AMX. I was vindicated but my enthusiasm was quickly tempered when we got back to our garage space - Jimi had gone off track and the front bodywork on the AMX was broken up and packed with mud and grass.

Once again Mary focused on prepping the OLC while Carl, Jon, and I went to work on the AMX. Fortunately we had about an hour before the next run group which proved ample time to remove the permanently damaged spoiler and splitter, bend the front fender back into shape, and remove about 50 pounds of mud and turf. The AMX was wounded but would continue to fight!

Out third session was on the Full Course - two high speed straights... not what our engine needed. After some convincing Carl took point with me in chase followed by Jimi and Damon. After a lengthy delay following an unfortunate mating between the Speedconcepts gullwing Mercedes SLS (google it then shed a tear) and a tire wall it was our turn.

I think everyone had the most fun on this final run and things just seemed to work where they had to. I gauged Carl an I to be in almost ahead heat with Jimi and Damon just a bit behind. When we got to the garage Carl felt the same but mentioned that he was hitting over 145 on the straights... I was notably slower.

When the results came they were good and bad... Carl beat us out, taking first, we were second, Damon took third and Jimi fourth. I knew it was close - the gap was 1 second between Carl and I - but I was hoping I might have squeaked it out... not to be. The good news was that Carl finished 22nd overall while we were 24th. Pretty good for two 40-year old heaps... beating out a Viper ACR and a bunch of modern Supercars.

With the track driving finished for the day we sit in 21st overall with 2655 points... We're five points our of 20th and a finish as high as 17th isn't mathematically impossible (however unlikely). We're first in Vintage American with a 90 point lead over Jimi and a 105 point lead over third place Carl.

Tonight's transit is 460 miles through Virginia and Pennsylvania... Leaving the track the GPS says we should make the hotel before midnight... I hope it's right...

05-10-2013, 04:38 AM
James GREAT update, well written with super detail........and you did this at 5:40am!!! Kudos to you guys for doing this,
the rest of get to live vicariously through the OLA Team!!!

05-10-2013, 09:31 AM
Keep it up!

05-10-2013, 10:08 AM
I'm with you James. Daytona was great, but for road course junkies VIR is a dream.

It was great running with you two. It's something I will always remember.