OneLap Main

Preview | The Sendoff | The 3rd Man | Starting Line | Watkins 1 | Michigan | Heartland | Texas | Atlanta | VIR | Watkins 2 | Epilogue | Great Stuff! | Contact Us | FAQ

return to the home page

One Lap of America 2001 - Bill and Mark's Excellent Adventure!
Event 3

Heartland Park - Topeka, Kansas

Check the Weather forecast for Heartland Park

Heartland Park

track map

"If your not having fun now, it's going to get worse!"

- Bill, somewhere on the road, late at night, with very little sleep

Wow, do we feel a little shell shocked. Last night we got the final points results from the drag race. Bill turned in a tremendous performance yesterday at the dragstrip, however we found that we actually LOST significant ground in the points from that event. Even though Bill scored a 2nd place overall finish in the Bracket Drags, it turns out the bracket drags are worth very little points. The One Lap folks do this because a top running car can get knocked out in the first round of bracket drags, and they don't want such a big penalty on that car in case that happens. So we did all that, just for fun. Instead, the REAL points were determined by a single drag race / qualifying run before the bracket drags, and each car was ranked based on its overall time. This doesn't reward a low horsepower car that might be fast on track. We finished 39th in the pack, and all the other cars we had been running with were finishing in the top 15 or so, which means we lost HUGE POINTS ground in the drag race event. Well, we had been telling everyone we were running a stock motor (with just a modified exhaust), and many of them didn't believe us. They were thinking no way could a stock motored car hang with us. They believe us now!

Nonetheless we had a fantastic time at the bracket drags and I strongly recommend it to anyone. Watching Bill rocket down the track and waiting for the times to be displayed, I felt like I was watching the Kentucky Derby and my horse just had a photo finish. It was far more exhilarating than I would ever have imagined. And I wasn't even doing the driving! We also found out today that we scored a 7th place overall at Michigan International Speedway, this despite it was the first and only time we have ever driven there, plus there is NO PRACTICE ahead of time, only a single recon lap.

(Editors Note: The 7th place finish was later adjusted to 10th due to timing errors on other competitors.  It looks like Mark & Bill are 3rd in their class and unofficially 10th overall)

Cobra on the road

I'm starting to get used to this view of this Superformance Cobra, on and off the track! The drive last night to Topeka was a real bear! We had to go 800 miles from MIS to Heartland Park. When we do this, it helps to try to hook up with some friends on the road. We first had to stop in Des Moines (about 530 miles from MIS) at the Holm's Radiator shop for a checkpoint. About half way there we hooked up with my buddy Scott Smith and his co-driver David Basile in their Red M3, and we caravanned at 80+ for hours on end. Every time we stopped for food or gas, heads turned as these two wild looking cars pulled in.

Finally we arrived at Holm's shortly after midnight. We really needed a break from the driving, and enjoyed some pizza and snacks. I was pleasantly surprised to see Steve Fuller there with a friend - Steve was one of the folks mentioned on the "3rd Man" page, and has been very helpful in our preparations for Heartland Park. Before we left, the cops showed up. It seems that certain folks were doing burnouts as they left the checkpoint. So we had to behave as we hit the road under the careful gaze of Johnny law. For the first time I was actually able to get a couple of hours of much needed sleep in the car. Imagine taking 7 cross country flights in a row, in a 2 propeller commuter plane, seated in coach class, your chair doesn't recline, and the person next to you is taking up half your seat. That's the best way to describe traveling in an RX-7 with a loud exhaust. 

We made it to Topeka around 4:00 am. Scott and David headed for a hotel, but Bill thought that we might oversleep if we got that comfortable. So we headed straight to the track and joined a few other One-Lappers outside the entrance to the Heartland Park track. I napped in the tent, while Bill slept in the car, and fortunately the weather was nice and just a little cool -- perfect outdoor sleeping weather. Bill's advice was good, as we awoke just before 7:00 and got into the track early. Scott and David rolled in about 8:45 - they overslept and had to scramble to get ready for their runs.


Since we finished so well in the first heat at Watkins Glen (7th overall), this meant that for all the events, we gridded and ran with the Big Dogs. So we had to be ready to run by 9:00am sharp, among the first cars on track. In order to do this, Bill unpacked and prepared the car, while I walked the track. Fortunately I had some great preparation from my fellow Corner-Carvers, in the form of in-car video (which I could view on my laptop while we do these long drives), and some excellent notes and tips that they shared. By walking the track, I was able to reinforce what I had already seen in the video and learned from the notes. Meanwhile Bill is checking the fluids, inspecting brake pads, brake rotors, wheels and tires, adjusting tire pressures, adjust shock absorber settings, installing the camera, etc. etc. So we are both very busy before the event even starts. In order to get all of this done by 9:00, we have to get to the track two hours beforehand.

potters rx-7

This is Rick Potter's super fast RX-7, like mine, only more of everything - much more. Rick's co-driver, George Samuels, reports that Rick has over 400 rear wheel horsepower (the exact amount is secret). Allowing for 15% driveline loss, this means that Rick has at least 460 horsepower. Rick's car also has what are probably the best suspension components on the market, and larger wheels and tires. Rick won the SSGT2 class last year, and has an excellent shot this year as well.

dale and gregs rx7

This beautiful RX-7 is owned by Greg Stasiowski, and co-driven by Dale Black. It isn't quite as heavily modified as Rick Potter's. It has a newly rebuilt motor with modifications that give them something shy of 400hp total. Not bad for 80 cubic inches. In case you didn't know, RX-7's are powered by rotary engines, a design invented by a man named Wankle. They make very good horsepower given their small size and weight. This is why an RX-7 is so small and nimble. Dale and Greg are in a similar boat to ours, in that they are seeing a few of these tracks for the first time as well. Nonetheless they are driving quite well, and since we lost so many points in the drag race event, they have overtaken us in the overall standings. We will have our work cut out to get back in front of them.


When someone is sitting on the grid, waiting in the final minutes to make their run, you pretty much need to stay away and leave them alone. In the moments before going on track, the driver is trying to prepare them self mentally for what they are about to do. Which is to risk life and limb to drive a car to its absolute maximum, for no other reason than the sheer joy of it. When famous racecar drivers say they would race for nothing, they aren't lying. Heck, I actually pay dearly for the privilege of doing this, so free would be an improvement. It takes intense concentration to drive at the limits, such that you can think of nothing else - for that brief period of time, the rest of the world does not even exist - no problems, no worries, just sheer mental stimulation of the highest order.

The first heat at Heartland Park was pretty uneventful - none of the top cars went off track, which is a good thing since the heavy rains from previous days ensured that you wouldn't be getting out of the muck without a tow truck. I ran fairly well, considering that I was once again trying to run as fast as humanly possible on a track that I have never before driven. We don't really know how well we finished, but we heard rumor that it was in the top 15, which is pretty good all things considered. Between heats, Bill was able to grab some rest in the tent, while I went over the car.

rx7 front

The second heat started at 12:30, and was also uneventful in that there were no incidents. I was able to improve my time by a couple of seconds, but usually other folks improve as well, so we can only hope that we get another top 20 finish. We were able to pack up and hit the road by 1:45pm. Our next stop is south of Fort Worth Texas, a mere 520 miles, so tonight we expect to be able to sleep in a hotel. The track is relatively new, so many of the One-Lappers will be seeing it for the first time - we know we will. I have been told it is relatively slow and twisty, which plays to our strengths, but we will find out tomorrow. The sleep deficit went way up last night, with each of us only getting maybe 4 hours. We look forward to getting a good night's rest tonight, and giving it an excellent shot tomorrow. 

Just so you know, our car is holding up quite well. It now has 52K miles on the clock, and we are crossing our fingers that we will avoid mechanical problems before the event is over (Knock on wood...or maybe you could say a prayer for us!). Thanks for joining us, and check back tomorrow for another update!

To go to next story, click on this link: Texas