2018 One Lap of America - Day one

May 7 , 2018 01:23 PM

Yes it is One Lap of America time a gain, but this year with a twist.

Alex (my son) and I (Steve) have traded in our cameras for driving helmets.


That means we are finally participating in the One Lap of America as participants.  What started off 15 years ago as a way to be part of this incredible event as the official photographers, has finally transitioned to being participants.  


A little history on how we were able to do this.


Last year we decided (Alex and myself), would finally run this event.  So with a lot of help from Brock Yates Jr. we decided we would finally do this.  But we needed some track time, so we enrolled into a BMW "Taste of the Track” day at Watkins Glen.  This was a one day of driving Watkins Glen to give us a taste of driving at speed.  Well, it was what we knew would happen; we wanted more.  So in October we enrolled in a two day HPDE weekend at Watkins Glen.  That is High Performance Driving Education.  I drove my ’05 MINI and Alex drove his ’00 BMW 325i.  We both did very well and came home with great reviews from our respective instructors.


This Spring (’18) we enrolled again for a New Jersey HPDE weekend, but this time in a ’09 VW GTI.  Why a GTI you ask, well a One Lapper who I have known for many years offered the car to us to drive, no strings attached.  We were blown away by the offer and yes, accepted it.  The car is incredible and we both used the New Jersey weekend to familiarize us with the car.  We also brought Jon Meyers along as our driving coach.  Needless to say this car, which was prepared by Josh Paashaus of Nothing Leaves Stock, is a fully race prepared car.  Gutted interior, race seats, 6 point harness, new larger turbo, suspension, Brembo brakes, new differential, over 300BHP, and who know what else.  All you need to know, this is an incredible car that drives fast, turns incredible well and brakes incredibly fast.  It took us some time, but I thing we understood the car after the weekend.


So, here we are, heading to South Bend, IN, for day one of our adventure.  


Alex arrived in Rochester from Brooklyn on Thursday and then we packed my street car as we headed off to South Bend, IN for the start.  Due to some travel logistics, Josh was nice enough to get our car for the week out to South Bend.


Friday was tech inspection and registration.  This was also a time to reacquaint with old friends and meet some new ones.  Everyone was very supportive of our new adventure.  We also needed to be sure all the proper stickers are in place on the car. Ya gotta thank those sponsors. So, we sticker the car.


The photography is still going as usual, but instead of Alex and I performing these duties, it is my long time friend, Bill Guy, who has photographed this event for four years with me.  Along side Bill is an ex – One Lap driver, Stephen Burke. Both doing a great job that allows Alex and I to do what we need to do, and that is have some fun and understand the driving part of this event.


An early dinner with Alex, Bill and Stephen and then we were off to bed to get ready for the week’s activities. 


Saturday – May 5 – Day One


We know the drill, but we are now competitors, so things are a bit different. First activity is to empty the car of every thing.  And wait. First car is off at 10AM, and we are car 53, so, we wait.  This is time to talk to more folks and enjoy our selves.  


It was finally our time and we had our team picture taken by Bill.  Then off to the skid pad.


First event is a wet skid pad to see if you can drive around a wet circle and fast as you can.  I did the driving and it is pretty simple, drive in a circle counter clock wise and then clockwise.  They add all the time and calculate you average G force.  So far so good; 48thout of 76 cars. Happy with the results, we pack the car and head to our next event for the day at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL.


It only took a few hours to get to Joliet and we had to wait till 4PM for track time. So, we had lunch and waited and talked to more folks.  Seems to be a pattern here.


Well, I was back in the drivers seat for this track.  A bit apprehensive I guess, so my time was not the best, but finished ahead of a Prius, some consolation.  But hey, I did OK and kept the car in one piece.  So, we have day one complete and so far, so good.  It will be an interesting week.


We are in transit to Collinsville, IL for Day two.  248 miles down the road.  


There are a total of five GTIs in this group that we have joined.  Longtime friends for the most part and long time One Lap competitors.  4 white GTIs and our Grey one.  So we are traveling with them tonight and it is a bit fun to watch 5 GTIs following each other down the highway.  


Well that is it for today.  More tomorrow as we will be doing two time trials and on drag race.  Should be interesting.


Till then…..


Steve and Alex



PS very little, if any, effort is made to check spelling, grammar or even making sense in these letters  Typing and trying to see a laptop screen at highway speed in a car with stiff suspension, is a bit of a challenge. 




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