One Lap of America 2010 – Click above for high-res image gallery
We're still purring along on One Lap of America in our BMW Performance School-provided 335d and 550i sedans, but while there have been zero mechanical issues for the timing and scoring crew, the event is starting to take its toll on competitors' cars, as well as their drivers.
The returning #1 Nissan GT-R of Steven Rankins wasted no time staking its claim to the lead once again, posting the best results at Friday's wet skidpad event (a startling .962 g) at the Tire Rack in South Bend. After negotiating some overachieving thunderstorms on the way through Wisconsin, the #1 GT-R (above) would follow up that performance with the second-best time at Road America in the first event, trailing only the #3 Porsche 911 GT2 of Leh Keen and Doug Wilks. Dan "Mr. One Lap" Corcoran finished third on the 4.1-mile circuit in his carbon fiber-bodied Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
In the second Road America event, the #3 Porsche GT2 again mopped up, with the #4 Nissan GT-R of Catesby Jones and Jose Collado taking second and the #5 Corvette of Danny Popp rounding out the top three.
The racers noted above may be the lead sled dogs, but everyone at Road America spent the day talking about Howard LaFever and his #69 2010 Cadillac CTS-V. LaFever managed to walk away from a massive rollover crackup in the first event after overcooking the car in Canada Corner. The longtime One Lapper bounced across Turn 12's gravel trap at triple digit speeds, through a catch fence and over a concrete barrier, where the car landed in a crumpled heap on its roof (pics here). Miraculously, LaFever escaped uninjured, only to leave the track in search of a replacement vehicle. He would turn up shortly thereafter in a newly purchased white Chrysler Crossfire, a car in which he can run the rest of the event but not accrue further points. By the day's end, other cars were claimed by Road America too, although not as violently as LaFever's CTS-V. Mechanical maladies befell a Mitsubishi Evo, the sweet 1968 Dodge Charger (fuel pump), as well as a Corvette Z06 and a Mustang GTS. Thankfully, most are not permanently hobbled, showing up further down the road.
We caught up with the racers again at Mid-America Motorplex in Pacific Junction, Iowa, a billiard table-flat road course, where it quickly became clear that this year's One Lap will see a new champion – Rankins' #1 GT-R was misfiring badly, repeatedly consuming its number-six spark plug. Even after replacing the plugs and tweaking the car's fuel delivery maps, the Nissan ran poorly, and while it lined up in its appointed run group, it didn't take the green flag after a sickly recon lap. After confronting compression loss, it becomes clear that the gray and orange Godzilla has surrendered its chances for a repeat performance. The #3 Porsche GT2 powered through to the best time in the first MAM time trial, followed by the #4 GT-R and Popp in his #5 Corvette. Making its first top five appearance is the #6 Subaru WRX STI of Michael Lattos.
Perhaps more interesting than the top five finishers is the appearance of some unlikely machinery in the top 10, including the #39 BMW 325is of driver Anthony Magagnoli. The 1990 3 Series seems like an unlikely sixth place finisher, even wearing its period M3 bodywork. But thanks to an extensive diet, and a E36-sourced motor with a Garrett turbo strapped on, the elderly BMW has been surprising more powerful and far costlier machinery since One Lap began. Proving its performance was no fluke, Magagnoli would back up his first run with another sixth place finish.
Judging by the comments generated by our first 2010 One Lap post, Richard Fisher and Jason Saini's Mazda5 is something of a fan favorite. The two-box minivan is more than just a curiosity, however, what with its shoehorned-in Mazdaspeed3 drivetrain, full rollcage and stripped interior. Evidently late for soccer practice, the Mazda Mommymobile pedaled its way to a fantastic eighth place finish in round one and a thoroughly credible 13th place finish in round two at Mid America.
Yesterday, the competitors headed to Oklahoma for events at two venues, the challenging and quick roadcourse at Hallett and Tulsa Raceway Park for a bit of bracket drag racing. We'll catch up with them at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis today for some more great roadcourse action. Stay tuned, and as always, remember that individual event results and full standings are available at OneLapOfAmerica.com.