One Lap of America 2015: The Experience and Final Thoughts
Roughly 6 months ago, Churchill came to Chicago to shoot his sister's proposal. Afterwards, we had a drink at the bar and got Korean BBQ (fun fact: Koreans have 40oz just like we have here, but they taste like apple juice and serve it with ice). We somehow got onto the topic of cars and he told me about a week long event happening in May the following year. I had never heard of it, but he said he was friends with the owner of a shop (RS Motors) that was participating for the first time and asked me if I was interested in joining them and helping him cover the event. I agreed, but had no idea what I was getting myself into.
A normal person probably would've researched the event before agreeing to participate, but I didn't even know what the name of the event was until about a month before it started. I'm glad I didn't research it though, because it probably would've scared me off.
One Lap of America, for those that haven't read the other posts, or didn't understand from my sleep deprived ramblings, is a week long motorsports event that takes place in a different state every day. You show up at the first event, race, pack up your stuff, drive 6-12 hours to your next city, check into the hotel, sleep, wake up around 6am, drive to the next track and do it all over again, for a week. From my experience, once you make it past day 3, the lack of sleep stops being a factor. You spend so much time awake and on the road that sleep becomes a luxury.
With that said, this event is NOT for everyone. One Lap is a lot of fun, but it's also exhausting and quite expensive to participate in. This is not the usual couple hundred dollars to participate in USCA or the $60-$80 fee to do a track day or autocross day with a local car club- not by a long shot. The entry fee, according to the participants, is $3000. That does not include buying tires (yes, you will need to buy new(ish) tires), food, gas, hotel or any vehicle repairs you may need to make during the trip. Surprisingly (at least it was surprising to me), the Evo didn't need much TLC during the week. They changed the rear differential fluid near the beginning of the event and had a motor mount come loose near the end. That's it. It stayed together much better than the internet would lead you to believe.
I had a great time at One Lap. I've never participated much in the motorsports world, mostly because it doesn't seem very diverse or welcoming to diversity, but One Lap has completely changed my perception. Although One Lap wasn't the most diverse, the people were very friendly. It was like one big family, racing around the midwest, with a car collection one could only dream of owning.
I would definitely participate in another One Lap and I'd be much better prepared for it. I don't know if RS Motors is going again next year (maybe to prove another platform?), but if they are, I definitely want to join them.
After my experience, here are some tips for anyone that wants to participate, or even spectate. Media teams, this will be especially helpful for you:
- Drive something fun. Even if you're covering the event, drive something fun. The Duramax we drove was useful for carrying around all of our camera gear, but the transit drives would have been much more enjoyable if we had packed lighter and taken a vehicle that was more nimble.
- Plan your bathroom breaks and refueling stops. A 10 hour drive can quickly become a 12+ hour drive if your bathroom breaks aren't timed.
- If you have 5 guys, get 2 hotel rooms. Sleeping two to a bed and one on the floor makes the lack of sleep a lot more noticeable.
- Bring allergy medicine- a lot of it. The pollen count is a lot higher out in the country. A regular dose of AllegraD is not enough to get your allergies under control.
- The allergy medicine that I told you to bring in the last bullet point isn't enough; bring more.
- Bring some form of wifi device with a good carrier. My initial recommendation is Clear because you can get a lot of data for cheap, but given the lack of signal for most of the week, Verizon may be the better choice. Do your research.
- Bring a power inverter to charge your higher power devices on the road. There was a lot of editing, writing and work I could have gotten done during those transit drives, if I had been able to keep my Macbook Pro charged.
- Pack shorts; it's hot out there.
- Go to Chili's for margaritas if you get to the hotel before 11pm.
- Have fun and take a lot of pictures.
One Lap of America is an event every motorsport enthusiast and gearhead should experience at least once. If you can't afford to race, find a team and tag along with them, or split the cost with 3-4 people and go with a small group. It's kind of like Blue Man Group. You can tell people how cool it is, but they won't understand why or how until they actually participate for themselves.