Sunday, May 9, 2010

Final Day - I thought this was supposed to be a DRY Skid Pad

Last night was relaxing. We arrived to the hotel about 8:45pm, relaxed and took showers. It had been over 4 hours since Nelson Ledges and Greg and I were still talking about how fast Jason took the MINI around the track. We kept the topic going through another good dinner at the hotel and then head off to the Quality Inn. Why they use the term "quality" in the their name escapes me.

After social hour with the other One Lappers we hit the bed and hoped for some rain in the morning. A wet skid pad would even our chances of moving up a bunch of positions in the overall rankings.

Well, wet it was in the morning - and frigid. A cold front came through town and our 80 degree weather was short lived. With the temp topping 42, we bundled up and head over to Tire Rack for the final day picture. We thought for sure that we were on time this morning, but as wel pulled up, everyone else was already there and jockeying for position in the Motor Trend picture. Don't try to find Nigel, instead, look for Greg. That's right, just look for a flourescent yellow dot and that will be Greg. He wore his raincoat today, which puts Paddington Bear to shame. Smart idea though, because the picture is taken from a cherry picker and you wouldn't be able to discern us otherwise. After the picture everyone ran for shelter from the wind and cold while anticipating the skid pad, which was at this point wet. (YEAH!)

They ran the cars in opposite order of overall rank, which meant we got to go early. Nigel did great on the wet Dry Skid Pad. Unfortunately, as more cars went, more cars were able to use their horsepower on the now dry Dry Skid Pad. Which means that we didn't get in front of the IROC or the Civic or the 325i. I guess that there will always be next year.The minivan pulled almost a full 1G average on the skid pad. This helped them get into 1st in SUV/Van class and 15th overall. We took 3rd in the Retro Class.

The awards ceremony was moved to inside because of the weather and we hung around, took pictures, and ate some lunch. It was a great way to end the week. We swaped emails with a bunch of the teams and I am anticipating some pictures from those guys as well. We have a ton of photos and some videos that still need to be posted. Don't stop watching the blog now just because the One Lap is over - I will get the videos from all the tracks up and photos as well.

We are heading home now and can't believe that the week is over. In recapping the event, I would say that it was one of the greatest experiences ever. I wish we had done this sooner, but would not change anything about the people we met this year and the cars that we saw.

The winning car Overall and in SSGT1 BB: Porsche GT-2 with Leh and Doug
Me with Brock Sr before the awards lunch
Its Happy making a final appearance at Tire Rack HQ
Brian and Harry with Brock Sr.

Hanging out at the luncheon

Brock and Brock making closing remarks

Tom and Brian Healy taking 3rd in SUV/Van with their Ford Lightning
The big class win in SUV/Van for Jason and Fish (what a smile!)
The 2 teams: Greg and Me with Richard and Jason
Mike, Chris and me leaving the warehouse
Harry, Brian and Me on the way out.

As we pulled into the driveway the odometer now reads 88318. That comes to 4058 miles in 9 days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 8 - Hitting the Rough Pavement

Sorry that the posts are running a day late - but the lack of battery power and internet on Friday during the transfer limited this post to be published on time.

We were excited to pack Nigel up in NJ with the idea that there was one road course left on the itinerary. We also were hauling butt to get out of NJ and through Philly before the rush hour set in. Once trough Philly we only sat in traffic from one accident and then it was open road to Nelson Ledges. We stopped for our first really nice sit-down dinner. Jason found us a spot in downtown Pittsburgh that was convenient to the highway, wthin an hour to the hotel in Youngstown, and had amazing food. We couldn't have asked for more. After some drinks and dinner Greg and I split off to the hotel and arrived in around 12:30 am - which seemed to be the norm for the week.

We woke up this morning to cloudy skies and cold in the air. We finally thought we would need our raincoats. To say it was freezing would be an understatement - everyone was layered up in all of the rest of their clothing - clean or dirty. After a week of high 70's to 80 degree weather, this weather sucked - and I really can't say that enough because I hate being cold. Regardless, Greg walked the track while I got my morning jog in. The pavement at Nelson Ledges makes this place famous. There are smooth parts, but there are rough patches in the most unwanted areas. Driving this course at full race speed takes more gall than I have (or Greg for that matter).

The morning session was full of a lot of surprises. A Mustang lost its motor, a Civic took a slight off course, and an HHR SS popped its curtain side air bags. The air bags disaster was an extremely rare event. Amanda took to the curbing in turn 12, something set of the accelerometer and they went pop! She is fine and so is the HHR, minus its side airbags, she cut them out and went back out for her afternoon session. The Mustang wasn't as lucky. He blew something up in the motor, it created a lot of smoke and a little bit of fire. Unfortunately that ended his One Lap for this year.

Greg drove pretty slow in the morning. I busted him about it through lunch, and so did the Mazda boys. We showed him where the gas pedal was and Jason told him how to use it and Greg was off for his afternoon session. He dropped over 13 seconds from morning to afternoon. Knowing the turns of the track made a huge difference and helped up us retain 58th position overall. The only malady of the afternoon came from the Charger. Poor guys - always changing out a part, but what troopers to throw a 6,000+  pound vintage car around the tracks and the country for a week. As Chris pulled into the paddock he blew a brake line and the fluids caught on fire. Luckily Mike had some quick reaction time with the fire extinguisher.

The day ended with open track time at NL - I asked Jason to take me around in Nigel and show me how it's done. I nearly puked on the first lap. Jason was only driving at 80% and we were cooking through turns and straights like I couldn't believe. It was an amazing experience that both Greg and I had the pleasure of - a huge thanks to Jason for the laps, and Richard for waiting while he drove with us.

We are now off to South Bend. This is our last leg of the journey before the dry skid pad tomorrow and awards ceremony after that. We are looking forward to another nice meal with the crew from NY, followed by beers with the One Lappers at the unofficial-official One Lap hotel.

Mileage 87862: 3602 miles

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day 7 - Already?

Last night was Cinco de Mayo, and in honor of it we ate at Outback...again. The drive into New Jersey was tedious. It is 1 road the entire way. Funny thing is that we will be taking the same road back to Nelson Ledges for the final road course day, but more on that when we get there.

After a slight delay starting this morning, the track session went by quickly. I did a little spinning action on the recon lap - blonde moments while racing are never a good thing. I had a great morning session once the track was hot and I smoked some M3's that were in my run group. Only one got by me on the final lap - can't win them all in a MINI. After a lunch of animal crackers and nut mixes, I took a crash course in shifting with more revs from Jason. If only I knew that on Sunday!  I dropped over 10 seconds in the afternoon session and came in a surprising 49th place. This finish catapulted Greg and I ahead of the Vintage Camarro IROC and within striking distance of a BMW 325i and Honda Civic SI.

Lapping sessions were offered today and I almost had Jason throw the MINI around so we could see what Nigel had in him, but the thought of sitting in Philly traffic out-weighed the desure to go fast. Also, the idea of a really nice dinner on our last night traveling on the road was in the back of all of our minds. So, we packed up and hit the road for Ohio - again.

No pictures again, they will have to wait until dinner. This computer may go out the window and I will just have to use the iPhone for the rest of the blogging. I do have some great pictures and some fun video from both sessions today. In fact, today was the first day that the GoPro was set-up and recording for both sessions, successfully! In the morning session, I have the M3 on video with his back end coming loose. He saves the skid and holds fast through the turn. Likewise, the M3 has video of me doing a 180 on the recon lap. We are going to swap out video cards tomorrow so I can eventuall get all of those online!

Here are the pictures as promised...and the videos too! Gary is supposed to upload his from first seesion soon...when he does I will link it here.
Almost like being at home...but 3 hours south.

Brock's transportation for the week.

Wrenching on the GT2

Chillin in the brand new EZ Up tent. Thanks guys!

Our competition taking a nap.

It became a mini MINI reunion!

Classic Camarro!

This is about the only picture we have of being on the track. There isn't too many good spots to take pictures from, unless you walk down to the track. Since Greg wore shorts today, well he wore shorts everyday because he didn't pack any pants, he could only snap pictures from the paddock area.

Greg's driving (again) on our way to Ohio.

Day 6 - Getting Technical in Ohio

The drive into Ohio wasn't killer. In fact, we had an actual dinner on the road. After stopping at Outback and refueling us and Nigel we rolled into Mansfield about midnight. This track is very hard to learn in just 1 recon lap so Greg and I both agreed that walking the track would help him. We woke up early, drove in early and got "serious". Ok, well as serious as walking out the line, but that's it. I also got some exercise in today with a jog around the 2.4 mile loop. This track is truly what every expert says it to be - technical, fast, and perfect black top.

Just a note: the track is amazing at Mid Ohio, but so are the facilities and the grounds personnel. This is a huge part to being out at the tracks.

Greg came off the morning session wanting more! He ran well, but thought he could go faster and harder. I gave him permission to take Nigel to town around the track. Come the afternoon, all of his studying video, maps, and walking had paid off and he dropped over 10 seconds. We are sitting 57th overall and 3rd in class. We will have some seconds to drop off at NJMP - Lightning course.

Pictures will have to wait to be uploaded because the computer is being tempermental. Unlike Greg and I, the computer and I are no longer getting along. It doesn't want to read my CF card from the camera and it doesn't want to export video - next year I will bring 2 different things. One is a bigger lense for the camera so we can get some up close shots. The other is NOT going to be a net book.

Here are the pictures and video!

The van heading out for its first run.

Starting line for first hot lap.

Howard and Jon - in their replacement cars!

Mileage 86994: 2734 miles