Cannonball One Lap of America 2002
I can't believe it's over already. We covered 5,200 miles in a week, dealing with all kinds of stuff along the way. We didn't get two miles from the start line, and we ran into problems (nothing major). I'll go through and try to cover the highlights of everyday ... but I'm sure a few days will run together.
I was not able to bring our digital camera with us on the event, didn't need to be worrying about loosing/damaging it all week. I will be posting up pictures as they are emailed to us from fans and fellow racers (along with stories explaining them). This page should really come together once the pictures start going up.
Thursday May 2nd - Day before One Lap:
Morning -- Did last minute preparations while waiting for my co-driver to arrive in Rochester. Packed up the cars, and headed out on the road to run some errands. I returned a borrowed trailer to a friends house (used it for putting the new engine in the daily driver), then headed over the Saturn dealer to check out the new Saturn performance parts. Pretty good parts, just a little overpriced for what they are. Still waiting for a bolt on, dealer approved, 500hp turbo kit.
Afternoon -- Met up with my co-driver and showed him around town. Didn't really do a whole lot, we needed to get lots of sleep for the days ahead.
Friday May 3rd - Day 1:
Morning -- Ran around making sure I had everything packed that I needed. Seeing how little I packed to live on for a week made me wonder why I have so much junk in my apartment. Met up with my co-driver around 8am ... had breakfast ... and went to sign in at registration and sticker up the car.
Afternoon -- After a few hours of watching everyone else scramble (we packed the car the weekend before) ... we headed out to get the nitrous tanks filled at Autocrafting here in Rochester. When that was set, we had a few hours to burn until the start of the race.
Evening -- Let the games begin!! After waiting a few hours for the start of the event, it was finally time!! Boy were we in for a surprise. We started off on the brewery side of the foot bridge, and were unable to see the MOB of people awaiting us on the other side. This was the first time in over fifty years that the city opened the foot bridge up to automotive traffic ... that together with One Lap made it the biggest event Rochester has seen in a long time. I talked with one friend that was in the crowd cheering us on ... he was in the third row of people, and it was so crowded that he couldn't even see the cars. If you've ever seen footage of some of the car rallies that are run in other countries, where people are literally in the streets when the cars come flying by ... it was just like that. People shaking our hands and touching the cars as we went by. It was great!
Late Evening -- Not two miles outside of the start line, we ran into our first problem. The weight of the trailer and the weight of the stuff in the back of the car weren't evenly distributed, and caused us to shave part of a rear tire after hitting our fist major pothole. We didn't have time to stop ... so we kept driving. After getting to the NYS thruway, we flared out the fender with a pair of vice-grips and a screwdriver. It was a LONG ride to IRP with the noise of the loose rubber slapping around in the fender well. Every time we hit a bump in the road, we shaved off more tire.
Saturday May 4th - Day 2:
Morning -- Well, we made it to IRP without going crazy due to the wheel noise. No time for a hotel since we got there right around the start of the event. No problem though, we were still pumped from the MOB at the start of the event. Time for the first event!! My co-driver / car owner, Mike Roberts, took the first event. He came back with a smile on his face .... I'm guessing he had a good time out there.
Afternoon -- Everyone else has run, so now it's time for our second run of the day. Mike decided to put me in the drivers seat to see how we compare to each other as drivers. Boy did I suck ... it was my first time having to double clutch up-shifts ... which lead to me being in neutral about 1/4 of the front straight. And it didn't help any that half way through my first timed lap, I was held up by a car on it's cool down lap. For those of you who don't know, on your cool down lap, your suppose to slow down and let the car cool down ... this guy thought he was still racing or something and passed me ... then slowed way down about half way through the lap and let the cars behind me to catch up. There were people on the track that hadn't even been on a track before, with slower cars, and they turned better times then me. I was also passed by a car that has never passed anyone before. Boy did I feel good. My time was about a minute and a half behind the next place. The only car I beat was a Porsche that stalled when starting their laps. Years of track schools and autocrosses down the drain. But hey, that's One Lap. It's not worth crying about stuff, just suck it up and try to do better next time, and/or run the moving road block off the track. Mike did the drag racing, while I ran back and packed up the trailer so we could leave the track early.
Evening -- Not much happened. We packed up and headed out to Greencastle, IN. for a sticker stop. Got some free food (or what was left of it) and headed out to Tulsa Speedway in Okalahoma. Lots of teams hung around to chit-chat, not us ... we took off and had enough time to get a hotel room near the track.
Sunday May 5th - Day 3:
Morning -- We checked out of the hotel and headed over to Tulsa Speedway ... a clay oval. I thought we had two events here, so I thought I had plenty of time to watch the other cars all do their first run. Some of the cars really flew around the track, some sideways. One poor BMW found out that a hard racing suspension doesn't work well on a clay track when his rear window blew out. A bunch of us that weren't racing got to walk the track and pick up all of the little pieces of glass ... fun fun. Just goes to show you that with One Lap, you never know what's going to happen. You can have a killer car with lots of hp, a full race suspension, tons of testing miles, etc. etc. .... but when you get to One Lap, all of that doesn't matter anymore because anything can, and will, happen.
Afternoon -- After packing up at Tulsa, we headed over to Hallett. This day was kind of a blur. Hopefully a few pictures of the daily events will jog my memory.
Monday May 6th - Day 4:
Morning -- After a night of driving, we were up a few 1,000 feet. Luckily for us, or at least me, we had indoor parking (a.k.a., I didn't have to worry about getting a sunburn). The biggest concern was not blowing up the engine with the nitrous. The elevation change, combined with the lack of high octane pump gas, led to us being cautious with the nitrous. Everything went ok though.
Afternoon -- Nothing really exciting happened. The event went by quick, leaving us plenty of time for the drive to Albuquerque New Mexico for a good nights rest.
Evening -- Arrived in Albuquerque with daylight to spare. The High Falls Brewery setup a special rate on a nice hotel there, and put together a happy hour for us at a local pub. Mike and I decided that instead of partying, we would get a good steak dinner and have a few drinks with fellow EBBQ racers. We also used this time to double check everything on the car and get ready for the long driving ahead of us.
Tuesday May 7th - Day 5:
Morning -- Woke up with plenty of time to spare. Even had time for showers!! On the way to Sandia Motorsports Park, we passed a flat bed semi-truck with two BIG metal canisters. It wasn't until we were ready to pass the truck that I noticed the "Radioactive" warning signs all over the truck and the canisters. After we arrived at the track, we were told that there was a radioactive dump down the street. Cool ... the radioactive dust in the air should add another 50HP to the car.
Afternoon -- The NSX blew a radiator hose and spewed antifreeze all over one of the turns, but other then that, a pretty uneventful day ... which on One Lap, is a good thing.
Evening -- We got to leave Sandia early due to the LONG drive ahead of us to get to Texas World Speedway. Only a short drive ... 865 miles or so. Shortly after leaving Sandia, we stopped off at a truck stop for gas (the only one for miles). Here we are, in the middle of the freaking high desert, nothing but cows for miles ... and who do I meet ... two cute military girls. Inside the truck stop there was an A&W restaurant ... kind of like McDonalds, only smaller with ice-cream and, duh, A&W root beer stuff. Must have been the only thing to do out there when they had down time. After thinking about it for a minute, I determine that due to lack of space, it's either the girls, or the nitrous bottles ... sorry girls, you loose that battle. After leaving the truck stop, we met up with the V8 Volvo and followed them for a little while ... but decided to stop following them when they started poring gas out onto the road. After making sure they had what they needed to repair the line themselves, we took off for Texas. I think this was the night we ran into the Saturn team shortly before stopping for the night at a hotel. They led us on a wild goose chase for gas ... we ditched them when they decided to ask the local police officers where the gas station was. We met up with them again shortly after that, at the next exit, where we found gas. Due to very, very, very slow pumps, and our five minute lead on starting to pump gas, we left them behind at the gas station.
Wednesday May 8th - Day 6:
Morning -- We arrived near the track around 3am-4am, plenty of time to check into a hotel and get two hours sleep, and much needed showers. We woke up late, leaving us just enough time to drive to the track, throw everything on the ground, strap in a nitrous bottle, and get onto the track.
Afternoon -- After Mike returned from the morning run, we had time to settle down, eat, finish unpacking the car, and change the jetting on the nitrous from 75HP to 55HP. Due to heat, octane level of the local pump gas, and running a little lean, we decided it was best to tone down the nitrous to save the engine for the trip back to Rochester in a few days. After a little while, it was time for our second run of the day ... my turn to drive again. After a lap or so, I caught up with the car in front of me, then after playing around with them, the car behind me caught up. I couldn't pass the car in front of me due to them having a little more HP down the front straight (our only opportunity to pass) ... and the car behind me thought we were running about even, so they backed off and had some fun. All in all, a good run ... didn't get passed, and the car didn't blow up.
Evening -- Nothing eventful. Loaded up the car, and headed out for the longest leg of the trip ... a short 930 mile drive.
Thursday May 9th - Day 7:
Morning -- Don't remember if we got a hotel or not ... it gets a little fuzzy now that we've crossed over the half way point in our adventure. We arrive at Road Atlanta with time to spare. Unpack the car, find something to eat, etc. It's about this time that I realize that we have a wedding to attend today, and I have no clean long sleeve shirts or anything. Luckily most One Lappers were in the same boat, so I wasn't to out of place. Right before the wedding starts, I see Mike go out on track. After a lap or two, I see him come in early ... it's about this time I go through what we forgot to do. Did we leave something loose in the car? Did we forget to turn on the nitrous tank? I see Mike drive the car back into the pits and park it. Since it was running, no smoke pouring out, no strange noises (from where I was sitting), etc. ... I figured he'd be ok without me until after the wedding was over. Having blown up two Saturn engines, both of which still ran, and didn't blow out to much smoke, I should have known better.
Afternoon -- After the wedding was over, I blew off the free BBQ party to see what's up with the car. Turns out we toasted a piston. I know what some of you nitrous newbies are thinking ... "The nitrous did it ... nitrous is bad!" ... wrong. When used correctly, nitrous won't hurt anything. It's the other things that hurt the engine ... not running the right timing, running to much nitrous, not running the right plugs, or, in our case ... the engine leaning back on fuel (fuel is used to cool down the pistons when running nitrous). All of the things that have to be just right in a supercharged, turbo'ed, or juiced (nitrous) engine. The lack of fuel lead to severe detonation of the piston. It started by leaving deposits of aluminum on the cylinder walls, then when enough aluminum melted off of the piston, it "blew up". Again, nitrous isn't bad!! You can detonate pistons the same way we did (running lean) with superchargers, turbos, etc. etc. So to make a long story longer ... we broke.
Late afternoon / early evening -- After waiting about three hours for a tow truck, we were finally on our way to the "Carolina Rod Shop". It was a sticker stop along the way, they had tools and a lift, so we figured it'd be a good place to work on the Honda. After about an hours drive, and an hour wait to get into the shop (everyone else had the same idea), we started tearing apart the engine. A local was able to track down someone with a B16A engine. He wanted $900 for a short block ... and it was broken (same problem ours had, a bad piston). Considering a long block only costs around $600, Mike decided to see if he would sell us just a piston and rod for $100. The guy agreed and said it would take him an hour to return with the piston, and then left.
Evening -- An hour went buy, still no word from the piston guy ... Mike called his cell and left a few messages. After getting the head off, we got to see the damage caused by running lean with nitrous (I'll get some pictures of the piston up when I find some). We cleaned all of the melted aluminum off of the cylinder wall and were ready to drop a new piston in. Everything was in tact ... crank, bearings, head, cylinder wall wasn't scratched up, etc. etc. All we needed was a piston and rod, and we would be back on the road in time to make it to Summit Point the next day.
Late evening -- It's approaching midnight, and no word from the piston guy. The car is still sitting on the lift, waiting for a piston. Mike calls the piston guy's cell phone a few more times ... no luck. A little while later, we decide to throw in the towel and get a hotel room for the night. The guys at the Carolina Rod Shop were more then happy to give us a ride down the street to a hotel.
Friday May 10th - Day 8:
Morning -- Due to the fact that our car is sitting on a lift in South Carolina, we decide we can sleep in until around 8am. After scraping the oil and grease off, Mike calls the piston guy again ... still no answer. We call the Carolina Rod Shop and ask for a ride to the shop from the hotel, again they send someone out to get us, and she even takes us to B.K. to get breakfast!!
Late morning -- After not being able to get a hold of the piston guy, we try calling around to local junk yards for pistons/engines. It's around 10am, and no one is answering their phone. The guys at the Carolina Rod Shop tell us that because it rained the day before, and because it's Friday, most people are probably out fishing. I don't think they were joking. We frantically call around to local repair shops, Honda dealers, and who ever else we could find ... well ... actually Mike called around ... I got on the net and emailed everyone I knew for help finding a piston. The engine we were running was a Honda B16A, directly imported from Japan ... no on had anything for it. After an hour of trying to find someone with a piston, we decided to give up and tow the car to it's home in Massachusetts. Mike goes to get a rental truck and trailer, I started packing up the car and all of the parts we took off of it.
Early afternoon -- Mike returns with the trailer. We got a bunch of guys from the Carolina Rod Shop to help push the car onto the trailer. Then Mike used the forklift to put our BBQ trailer into the box of the truck (I'm not kidding ... it was a sight to see). We say our many thank you's to the guys and gals at the Carolina Rod Shop, and head out for Massachusetts. We felt kind of bummed that we couldn't finish the event, but feeling ok because we made it farther then a lot of teams, and had a heck of a time doing it. We figure we'll take our time, getting a hotel in a few hours to get a good nights sleep, then finishing the long drive to Massachusetts in the morning.
Evening -- Driving, driving, and more driving. Some where around Baltimore, Mike says, "If we drive straight through, we can make it to Lancaster by morning." I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, or wishing I would have dumped the nitrous tanks off in New Mexico to make room for the military girls, but I said something to the tone of "Sure, what the heck." I grabbed the atlas, and found a way to get to Lancaster by morning. Somewhere around Washington D.C. I awake to Mike yelling at himself for making a wrong turn. We ended up taking a few mile long detour to Dullis (spelling??) Airport ... then having to backtrack to get back on the right route.
Saturday May 11th - Day 9:
Early morning -- Driving, sleeping, driving, sleeping ...
Morning -- Two minutes before the gates were scheduled to open, we arrive at Lancaster just outside Buffalo New York, beating more then half the cars. I don't know how long of a drive we just did, but it was worth it to make it to the last event. We couldn't run the event in the rental truck due to some wires hanging to low on the track ... but we were able to get the final sticker in the log book to complete the event. We didn't even bother unpacking ... just grabbed some free donuts and headed to Rochester.
Late morning -- We arrive in Rochester and start unpacking all of my stuff out of the trailer, truck, and Honda. Around 11:00am my car shows up (it was on loan to my Mom while I was gone). I load up all of my stuff and agree to meet Mike at the finish in an hour.
Early/late afternoon -- A few minutes before I leave my house for the finish event, Dale calls me up and says he wants to organize a pushing of the Honda across the finish line. He was to late ... Mike and I had the idea when driving to Lancaster ... but Dale offered to help push, so we decided to take him up on the offer. I arrive at the finish around 1:20pm, luckily it was running late. A few of us grab a quick bite to eat while waiting till 3pm to start the actual finish event. 3pm rolls around, most of the other cars go across the bridge to the finish line ... then it's our turn. A bunch of guys that had already driven to the other side risked being arrested to run back and help us push. Mike and I hopped in the car and we were pushed across the bridge, then across the finish line ... legally finishing the event. A kind Mustang owner used a tow rope to tow us back to the High Falls Brewery and helped us put the car back on the trailer.
Evening -- After saying our goodbyes, Mike and I went our separate ways. I can't speak for Mike, but I had one heck of a time, even though we blew up the car. If Mike puts up an offer for needing a co-driver next year, you'd be well advised to sign up for it. He's a great guy to co-drive with, and he has a BBQ trailer.
Many thanks to: