Archive 2008 - 2019

One Lap of America: Part 1 of 6

by Roy Maranhao

My name is Roy Maranhao.  I was asked to share an adventure I recently participated in called the One Lap of America. I’ve been involved with One Lap since 1998. That first year, my friend Mike asked me if I would like to help him by entering scores for competitors at race tracks around the country. Since I was a car enthusiast or motor head (take your pick), I thought it would be fun. Back then the event started at Gang Mills, NY, near Elmira, so I drove out there and met the timing/scoring team.

Back then the team consisted of six members.  Mark was the flag man. Mark’s main occupation was fireman for the city of Toledo and part time performance driving instructor. Scott was an auto mechanic from the upper peninsular of Michigan. Scott ran the timers and led the team. Debbie, from Kingston, Ontario, was mother of three and wife of one of the top competitors. She was responsible for getting the cars to run in the correct order. Andy was an Air Force Major working on the development of high powered airborne laser weapons. His job was to help getting the cars to the staging area. Rae was an office manager from Connecticut who helped Scott by identifying cars as they sped by so that he could assign the correct time for each car. I was a recently retired engineer and my job was to load all the scores into the computer and post the results.

That first year’s adventure was amazing. We drove as far west as Phoenix and then east to the Michelin tire proving grounds in South Carolina and several race tracks in between. I met some interesting people and saw some great cars and drivers. I was hooked. Since then, I worked on the timing crew most years and competed for three years. I drive a 1998 BMW M3 which is not nearly as fast as most of the cars but it is still fun to drive.

 My ride

 The One Lap of America is a combination of road rally, race track time trials and one week endurance trip. It is the ultimate road trip for car enthusiasts. The format is to run several laps at a race track and accumulate points according to your time. Then drive several hundred miles to the next track. Repeat this for a week and if you and your car survive, celebrate and then go home.

Since most of the drivers are amateurs, cars are let onto the track one at a time with enough of a gap between cars so that passing is unlikely. All the cars are divided into run groups. Cars in a run group run three laps at the same time and then leave the track. When the track is clear, the next run group is let onto the track. The cars are sorted so that the fastest cars are grouped together in the first run group. Succeeding run groups are populated with slower and slower cars with the slowest cars running in the last groups.

There are no cash prizes but if you do well and luck is with you, you may get a trophy. Drivers get to race at some of the best road courses in the country and test themselves and their machines. It’s an adventure.

This year there were over 70 cars entered into the event. Many of these entrants were raising money for various charities.

Careful car preparation is the most important thing to do for a trouble free week, as cars will be pushed to the extreme every day. For my car I needed to replace a damaged fender and some suspension parts. I changed all the fluids and waxed the whole car so that sponsor stickers could come off later without taking paint with it.

 Day 1 - Thursday May 3 - distance traveled: 882 miles

The adventure began for me at 6:00 AM. Three hours later I was pulling into my co-driver’s driveway in Hannacroix, NY. My co-driver, Don, was a Ford mechanic for many years. He then changed careers a few years ago and is now an Xray technician at a hospital near Albany, NY. Each team consists of a car and two or three drivers. Don and I have been involved with One Lap for many years but this was the first time we rode together. We soon got into the rhythm of long conversations about random subjects to keep the driver alert, interspersed with short cat naps (by the one not driving). That way, when fatigue causes a driver change, the new driver is ready to drive for at least a few hours.

In the 2007 One Lap, my co-drivers were two of my daughters – Kerry and Amy. They helped with the driving between tracks. That year we went all the way out to Salt Lake City, Utah, so there was plenty of transit driving. It was sort of like a family vacation having my kids with me and they still talk about what a great time they had.

Although the weather in Holliston was gloomy and wet, we left all that behind. We had dry roads all the way to South Bend, Indiana. As we approached our destination a big storm was to our north over Lake Michigan and later caused major flooding in Michigan. We arrived in South Bend around 10 pm and met up with friends we only get to see once a year. We socialized for a while and turned in around 11:30.  

Comments (2)

It is great to hear about a car enthusiast doing what he loves and loving what he does.

Tina | 2012-07-09 17:36:16

You guys are definitely living the good life.

paul | 2012-07-07 16:08:25