|So tell me
again, just what is One Lap of America?
One Lap of America is an
automotive competition. Over a period of one
week, entrants compete, in their own cars, on
racetracks spread around the country.
At each racetrack we run what are called
"time-trials". Each car runs 3
consecutive laps from a standing start. The
car with the lowest elapsed time gets the highest
score. The competition occurs on the
racetrack and not on the highway.
How far did you drive?
Because the racetracks are
spread halfway around the country, competitors
drove about 4000 miles from track-to-track,
over a period of one week. Here was a
map of our journey.
We also had to drive some
600+ miles each way, to and from the starting line
near Watkins Glen, NY. Plus there was the
actual on-track driving, and the occasional stop
at WalMart for supplies.
If we look at the total mileage, it was around
5500 miles over a total period of 10 days.
So are these race cars or
A little of both. Once
the competition starts, you cannot tow your car on
a trailer. So in order to compete, you
must drive your car from track to
track. Therefore the car must have a
license plate, and must carry insurance.
That means the car must have been street legal at
some point, however technically there is nothing
in the rules that requires the car to be street
legal during the period of the
competition. Some cars running One Lap
are essentially race cars that were at one time
street legal. Some are completely stock,
just like they came off the show room floor.
However you can bet the ones running up front were
more often the former, than the latter.
Can I run One Lap?
Absolutely. The next
One Lap is in May, 2002. Check out the
official One Lap website for details. All
you need is a little (actually very little)
on-track experience. If you attend an
on-track driving school, you can qualify for One
Lap. It's really quite easy to do. I
recommend you do more than one driving school,
Why does it take more than
one person per car? Why do you need a team?
Unless you can go a solid
week without any sleep whatsoever, you can't do it
alone (and they won't let you try, anyway).
Each day you run at a different track, and the
tracks are so far apart that you are always
moving. So in order to get some sleep you
need a co-driver. On occasion you can grab a
couple of hours sleep in a hotel, but it just
isn't enough. So you will need to sleep in
the car while your co-driver is driving to the
What does it cost to
compete in One Lap?
The entry fee is around $2000
for two people. Your total costs will
vary as you need to eat, etc. I documented
our total costs on the "Epilogue" page.
What modifications have
you done to your car?
The engine is completely
stock. I have a modified exhaust. A
stock RX-7 from the factory makes 255hp. If
I'm lucky, with my modified exhaust, mine should
make about 265hp. The only other performance
enhancements that I added, were aftermarket
springs and shocks, and a strut-bar
reinforcement. The brake
calipers and rotors are stock, but I did run
high-performance brake pads from Carbotech.
I added a roll-bar and 5 point racing harnesses
for safety, but they aren't required by the
Is it safe?
Safe is a relative
term. Because the competition is in a
time trial format, the passing on-track is
relatively limited. Cars leave the starting
line about 10 seconds apart, so you aren't racing
directly against the other cars on track, only
against the clock. You do occasionally
catch the car that started in front of you, so
some passing does occur. One Lap is MUCH safer than wheel-to-wheel
racing, where cars start side-by-side, and your
goal is to be first to the finish line. Most of the tracks (but
not all) that we run are road-courses, designed
so that you have some "run-off" room,
and won't necessarily hit anything, should you go off
track. But accidents can
happen. So you must wear a
helmet. I've never heard of anyone getting
seriously hurt on a racetrack while running One
Lap. Personally, I think the biggest
danger is falling asleep at the wheel while
driving on the highways between tracks. So
pick your co-driver well!
You've said that you teach
at driving schools. Can I get you as an
Sure. Mostly I teach
for Car Guys Inc. A link to their website is
on the "Great Stuff" page.
However, I don't go to every school, so send me an
email to find out where I'll be next. I also
teach occasionally for the BMWCCA at schools in
the southeast, and for Virginia International
Raceway. If you have access to a
racetrack through other means, I also provide
instruction privately on a per-diem
basis. You can contact me using the
link on the "Contact Us" page.