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One Lap of America 2001 - Bill and Mark's Excellent Adventure!
The Sendoff

"It takes a special kind of stupid to do this!"

- Diane Hall, THSCC member at the sendoff

There are many things that need to happen before you can compete in One-Lap. First of all, you have to pay your 2g's entry fee. Then you and your co-driver need to get your SVRA (Sports Car Vintage Racing Association) licenses. Then there is the car preparation, which would never end if there weren't an actual deadline. And finally there are the lists - endless lists of little things to do, things not to forget, etc. etc.

One of the nice things that happened was that the Tarheel Sports Car Club (THSCC) had a little send-off for Bill and Mark (okay, I'm tired of writing in the 3rd person), make that Bill and me (yes its Mark that is writing and maintaining this website - are you surprised? I mean, I do work for a computer company, although you can put everything I know about being a web master inside a thimble). At the sendoff there was a little roast of the team, and we received some very fine parting gifts, just like the ones you get when you finish last in Jeopardy. As a way of thanking the good people in the THSCC (and especially Karl Kaufman who assembled much of the package), I'd like to show you what we got.

Have you ever seen this wacky drink? It's hard to believe it actually exists - honest to god cans of Whoop Ass, courtesy of our good patron, Matt Nicholson. Where he got this, lord knows. It's an energy drink based on some ancient Japanese formula - that's what it says right on the label. It also says that it "Revitalizes Attitude & Restores Faith in Mankind." Some of the memorable ingredients include (I am not making this up):

Royal Jelly (that's Bee spit, isn't it?)
Guarana Extract (sounds awfully close to Guano)
Inosital (as opposed to out-ositall, I guess)
Taurine (it's been pointed out to me that this is stuff they put in Cat food)

The good news is an 8.4 oz can has 310% the daily allowance of Thiamin, and it's low in fat! We're supposed to drink a can of this vile brew at the beginning of each event, to get in the right frame of mind. We told Matt we would, but the more I think about it, the more nauseous I get. Maybe we'll bring along a cat.

Here we have a little something to sweeten the air. The air freshener is Pine scented, so we'll feel like we are back home in North Carolina. The Sweet Breath, Speed Stick, and Gas-X kind of speak for themselves. I don't know if you knew this, but we will essentially live in this cramped little RX-7 for a solid week, and our personal hygiene may occasionally suffer, so we won't underestimate the importance of these most thoughtful gifts.

Yes, this is the cockpit where we will live for one week and 4000 odd miles. When the RX-7 was designed, two itty-bitty Japanese guys sat in some tiny seats, and they built the absolute smallest car they could around them. When sitting in this twin-turbo rocket car, you look UP at the bumpers of Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics. Once One-Lap starts, there will be no hotels, no regular facilities of any type, for a solid week. This is because there isn't enough time between events to stop. The race tracks are hundreds of miles apart, and an event takes all day - when one ends, you pack up at 6:00pm and drive overnight to the next track. So you eat, sleep, and be merry in your car. Eating is done mostly by fast-food, sleeping is done in shifts when you can get it, and by the end of the week we are going to need an awful lot of the "be merry" part.

Hopefully we will have time to use these wonderful toiletries. Thanks guys for splurging and getting the really good 1 ply paper. The Barbie toothbrush is an especially nice touch. And you went all out on the hotel soap, shampoo and sewing kits. At least Bill will know which truck stops have good facilities.

With luck we won't need these - Dramamine, SFI rated Duct Tape (it's one of a kind - don't go looking for it), and a $50 gift card from Autozone. While you can fix virtually anything with Duct Tape, I have a feeling the $50 gift certificate will be the most useful of all the parting gifts.

Now we are ready to hit the road! Thanks THSCC!

Car Prep

Here is a list of things I'm doing to the car to prepare for One-Lap:

- Change Oil and Filter
- Mount and Balance 5 new Michelins (4 plus a spare)
- New brake rotors all around
- New brake pads all around
- Change brake fluid
- New belts for alternator, power steering, a/c
- Check other fluids coolant, power steering
- Check alignment and set to super secret specs
- Replace outer Tie-Rod Ends
- Wax car really well, so One-Lap decals will come off later
- Mount Hot-Lap in-car timer
- Install video camera mount
- Get any special decals made at the sign shop
- Get safety equipment triangles/flares, first aid kit
- A general mechanical and safety inspection of the car

So what will we try to bring with us?

- Mounted full size spare Michelin
- Jack
- A Clipboard with a checklist we use before each event
- Torque wrench
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Portable air pump
- Extra oil and brake fluid
- Windex, Rain-X, Paper Towels
- Extra spark plugs, fuel filter, belts, and odds and ends
- Spare Brake Pads and maybe a Rotor or 2 if there is room
- Toolkit to include metric socket set, wrenches, hammer, screw drivers, electrical tape, flashlights, voltmeter, clamps
- Duct Tape
- Tube of JB Weld
- Glue Gun
(with Duct Tape, JB Weld and a Glue Gun we can fix anything!)
- Road Atlas
- Cell phone
- Laptop with cellular modem
- Valentine-One Radar Detector
- 3-way power outlet for phone, laptop & radar detector
- Digital Camera
- Video Camera
- Batteries! Lots of Batteries!
- 2 Sleeping Bags
- 2 Pillows - some things aren't meant to be shared
- Towels
- Plastic Tarp, for when it rains
- Quick setup tent (opens and closes in seconds!)
- Clothes for hot AND cold weather (New York to Texas)
- Etc, Etc, Etc.

And it all has to fit right here:

You can see that the RX-7 was not made for long distance traveling, unless your idea of long distance was to venture down to the Piggly Wiggly for some cans of Whoop Ass. We will definitely not see a whole heck-of-a-lot out the rear window when the car is loaded. We'll be just like those folks in the overloaded minivan hogging the left lane on the interstate because they can't see you behind them. Something tells me we'll be narrowing down the list of things to take!

To go to next story, click on this link: The 3rd Man

In the next installment, to be added on May 4th, we'll talk about our trip to the starting line and the pre-race festivities. We will post pictures of our trip, the car after we put on all the official decals, and also some pictures of some of our formidable competitors and their cars. Be sure to check back later!