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2003 Tirerack Cannonball One Lap of America!

2003 TireRack Cannonball One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver and have combined resources to enter a 1997 Saturn SC1 in the annual traveling circus known as Onelap.  “Combining resources” means buying an old car, misappropriating retirement funds, and counting on the generosity of friends who realize it’s easier to say “yes” once than it is to say “no” thousands of times. 

Jamin Cummings, longstanding Saturn Performance Club contributor, and Dale Seeley, equally fanatical Neon enthusiast, flipped coins, played ‘rock, paper, scissors’, and ‘knuckles’ for hours before resorting to a deadly game of useless trivia about each car.  Do you know exactly how many 11mm bolts/nuts there are on a 1997 SC1? 

Having won the right to choose, Jamin also had the task of purchasing a 1997ish SC1 that he would transform into what we would consider a possible podium car in the hotly contested and deceivingly named “Economy Class”.  Over the past 5 years, a Neon has won Economy twice, and a Saturn has won twice.  The class gets faster every year, this year we will face a 5.0 Liter Mustang, a $40K Shogun Festiva, a well built Focus, and a Civic with the Integra VTEC.  Those guys may not look threatening, but with unlimited modifications allowed, each one is a serious threat. 

Onelap is a game of wretched excess, our SC1 is no different.  With six consecutive years of experience, we realize that brakes are the most important part of the equation.  Too many people underestimate the demands of 3 hot laps from a standing start with no opportunities to recover from mistakes or mechanical failure.  When you’re running way too fast on a track you’ve never seen before, you better have brakes that are a lot better than you are. 

HyeDraCyl ( developed a true bolt-on brake kit for us that will make anything we do to the engine or suspension useful.  Four-Piston Calipers clamp down on 12.2” diameter, 1” thick rotors.  We asked HyeDraCyl to develop the kit for a couple reasons.  They have fitted several Onelap cars in the past with similar kits, and those brakes made the difference.  Last years mid-priced sedan winner, a mostly stock WRX with less than 3,000 miles on the odometer, managed to stay ahead of cars with a lot more horsepower, and better suspension, the brakes do make a difference.  Aside from the performance benefit, there is a convenience factor. The rotors are modular.  If the wear surface is ever damaged, only the ring is replaced, the center ‘hat’ is reused.  Also, should anything go wrong with the system, it takes only a couple minutes to return to the OEM system.  Sharp Saturn enthusiasts will recognize that this kit meets and/or exceeds the SCCA World Challenge maximum allowance for brake upgrades. 

Yes, we understand that it will take more than a fancy set of brakes to outrun a rear-engined SHO powered go-cart like the Festiva. has helped us solve that problem.  A low-mileage DOHC engine and a freshly rebuilt transmission are in the car, with the correct ECU.  We plan to have a spare engine available throughout the event, just in case. 

Jamin has also dug through all the Tupperware bins in his storage shed to turn up the go-fast parts that will put the brakes to work.  He’s included all of the usual suspects to make a nice reliable vehicle.  The basic list is Intake, Engine Mounts, LSD, Flywheel, Springs, Struts, Swaybars, and Nitrous.  The reliability of the car is our primary concern, attrition during the event has become the biggest concern of the teams who want to finish first in class.  Over the past six years, the teams that replaced the fewest pistons, transmissions, and valve trains during the week walk away winners. 

As new developments occur, we’ll keep you updated through the mailing lists and 

We still plan to depend on the generosity of our friends to make the effort successful, and that generosity can take many forms.  If you’d like to become involved, there are many opportunities.  Some involve writing checks, others require only time, it’s up to you. 

We need a couple thousand miles of gas money, about 120 pounds of nitrous oxide, and about $400 for motels.  Those would be good examples of check writing opportunities. 

We need people with digital cameras, Gatorade, and sandwiches to visit us at the tracks. 

We need a competent Webmaster to receive digitals pictures and stories from the previously mentioned team, and to accept our sleep deprived phone calls in the afternoon, around 5pm, and maybe 8ish to translate them into witty, yet professional updates on a daily basis.  This job is a lot tougher than you think, nobody, including the Factory Saturn entry with a dedicated traveling media group, has done it right yet.  For the record, the Factory Saturn Team website is the benchmark, but we want a more rounded presence that includes the competition.  Face it, everybody wants to see the Lamborghini and the Vipers too. 

We need a network of enthusiasts all along the route that we can call for help.  We need your addresses and phone numbers, we may need your garage. 

We need one of those special 5th gear kits.  If you have one, you know what we mean.  We’ll give it back and we’ll keep our mouths shut about where it came from. 

Speaking of the Factory Saturn Team, we planned to compete with the Factory Turbo car, knowing that we were a second place entry.  Unfortunate circumstances probably have caused the withdrawal of the Factory Team.  With two previous wins in the class, we’ve inherited the ‘car to beat’ status.  We won’t know who or what we are competing against until the first events at Watkins Glen are complete.  We still hope the Factory Team shows up, it will make our lives a lot easier. 

For more information about Onelap, including the tentative schedule, please visit 

If you can’t think of anything useful to do with your tax refund, our paypal username is, last name Seeley.

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