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One Lap of America 2001 - Bill and Mark's Excellent Adventure!
Starting Line

On Thursday May 3rd, Bill and I started our journey with the drive from North Carolina to the town of Painted Post, near Watkins Glen. There we stayed at the official hotel of One-Lap, the Best Western. On Friday we attended registration, drivers' meetings, put the decals on our car, met our fellow competitors, and generally had a good time.....


If you want to run with the big dogs, bring along a trailer of spare parts! We don't think you'll see this coming down the highway very often. There was quite a bit of speculation as to what could possibly be in this trailer. A spare engine and transmission? Clutch Parts? In the past, many mega--horsepower cars have been forced to drop out of One Lap due to such failures. This team obviously intends to eliminate that possibility. Its an old story, the more horsepower you have, the more likely you are to break.


In contrast, our hauling space was somewhat limited. Believe it or not, we actually were able to bring most of the things on our original list, though Bill and I don't relish the idea of unpacking and repacking this mess at each event. While driving up to the event, I actually got passed by a Cadillac ON THE RIGHT SIDE because I was hogging the left lane and couldn't see out the back. The rest home can't be far behind.


At first its an odd feeling letting someone else drive your car. Bill's second job is as a professional truck driver (racing being first), but all the time I'm still out for that old lady in the Mercury Marquis hogging the left lane. After a while you get used to it and just relax. At least as much as is possible. Racers are indeed a type A competitive lot and the competition began as soon as we hit the road. It went something like this:

Bill: I can go all the way to Harrisburg before I have to pee...

Mark: Well I can go further than that...

Bill: Hey what are you typing over there??? You're not writing this down are you?

Bill knows he can win because HE is a professional truck driver, and can go for hours and hours without taking a leak. Mark knows he can win because he's been on this low sugar diet kick, and one of the interesting side effects is that you seem to not have to pee as often (go figure).


This was the first pit stop on the way to the starting line. Because Bill lost the bet in record time, we see him performing the menial task of washing the windows. Actually most of the trip was pretty uneventful. We've got this really cool GPS unit that hooks up to the laptop, and it was very entertaining to have the computer tell us our elevation, current speed, exact location, direction, distance to destination etc, etc. Enough to keep any car/techie guy entertained for hours (Tim Allen the Toolman grunts in the background).

Mark: (looking at the GPS screen) Bill, we're going 71.4mph, 72.3mph, 70.4mph, 73.1mph, 72.5mph

Bill yanks the laptop power cord out of the socket. Ok, maybe it didn't happen quite like that, my memory is kind of foggy. We didn't make the best of time, probably because we kept stopping at every Walmart along the way, trying to replace the 3-outlet power adapter which I broke about 10 minutes into the trip (remember we have to power a laptop, radar detector, CB, Phone). And car guys hate it when they don't make good time...every trip is another challenge to beat the old record, and we didn't do so hot on that. We rolled out of Raleigh around 9:00am, and made it to the Best Western Lodge on the Green (the official hotel of One Lap) just before dark, maybe around 7:30pm.

Mark: Hi, we're here for our room, which we guaranteed with a credit card 5 years in advance, plus the promise of our first born.

Hotel Desk Clerk Babe-ette, peering in the computer: Uh Oh.

Mark: (sighs and shakes his head)

Ok, we get our room straightened out, and find out the hotel is not exactly the Taj Mahal. One interesting thing about this hotel is that many of the rooms have stoves, refrigerators, etc, allowing these rooms to make do as more permanent habitation in a pinch. As such, many of the rooms have half a dozen or so folks crammed into them, and these people are more or less permanent residents. They line the balconies, looking on with some amusement, and maybe a little awe, as the hotel parking lot fills up with Vipers, Corvettes, BMWs, Porsches and other generally expensive go-fast hardware.

Our first nights sleep is quite restless, as is the case before most racing-type events. Despite the fact that we were both dog-tired, we both wake up at the crack of dawn, our minds racing with thoughts about the upcoming competition. Knowing I couldn't get back to sleep, I decided to go for a walk, and maybe take some pictures.


I was thinking of wearing a jacket this morning, and I run into this guy walking around in shorts with no shoes, walking a dog. Meet Brock Yates Jr. and Duff. That Duff is one smart cookie (Duff is the dog). Actually, Brock Jr. is pretty smart too, but I was thrown off by the lack of footwear on this chilly morning. Brock Jr. happens to have the really fun job of organizing the One Lap of America. Bill eventually joins us, and we make some interesting small talk, and I generally try not to say anything too stupid so that Brock Jr. doesn't throw me out of One-Lap before the event even starts. Then we run into this guy, the Big Kahuna.


Have you seen the movie "The Cannonball Run"? Meet Brock Yates Sr., the man that not only wrote that movie... He actually lived it. Brock Yates Sr. actually organized and ran the Cannonball run from 1971 to 1979. For quite awhile he held the record from coast to coast (NY to LA), I think around 33 hours. In this modern age of police radar, computer linked DMV systems between states (that ticket in Utah now finds its way back to North Carolina), and lawyers out the wazoo, such a competition can no longer exist. That is why Brock invented the new format that we now run, and named it One Lap of America. While the drives between tracks are quite long, they can generally be made while sticking near the speed limit. And all of the competition now occurs on the race tracks themselves.


This is Jim Atwell, a Cannonball legend. In 1973, while visiting a Porsche dealership, Jim picked up a copy of Car & Driver magazine and read about this kooky coast to coast race. He bought a Porsche off the showroom floor, and went out on his own and recreated his own Cannonball run, just Jim and a co-driver and the open road. They made it within 15 minutes of Brocks record time, and Jim sent Brock a letter, just to let him know. As Jim is telling this story to us, Brock leans over and playfully interjects, "You ol' bastard, you didn't run it with the 8 hours of snow we hit in Colorado!" (actually that may not have been the exact quote, because we weren't writing all of this down at the time, but it was close... Brock was pointing out HE ran it in the middle of winter, while Jim ran it during a more seasonal time). Back then not just anyone could run the real Cannonball, and Brock invited Jim to the very next running of the Cannonball Run. Now almost 80 years old, Jim has been coming back ever since. This year he is one of the folks behind the scenes and he helps things run smoothly. Thanks Jim!


Here is what all of our sponsor/patrons have been waiting to see... the car with their decals on it! After shelling out favors and discounts to Bill and Mark, its time for us to return the favors.


Some of the decals you see are sponsors of the One-Lap event and all competitors must display them (like the Michelin logo). We also have a few really nice sponsor decals on the back as well - we will add a picture of that in an upcoming section.

It's getting late, and it's been a really long day. We will update the website next with some pictures and results from Watkins Glen. We've taken some neat pictures of competitor's cars, and we'll add that as well. Please check back again soon.

To go to the next story, click on this link: Watkins Glen #1