Archive 2008 - 2019

One Lap of America: Part 6 of 6

by Roy Maranhao

 Day 9 - Friday May 11: Road America – distance traveled: 235 + 150 mile detour

Road America is about an hour’s drive from Waupaca and took us by beautiful Lake Winnebago. The lake is an impressive body of water ten miles across and 25 miles long. The track is a whopping four mile course with long high speed straights – two of them downhill and 14 turns.

We were sharing the track with the North American Road Racing Association and had to finish our morning event by 11 AM. We pulled in at 9:00 and there were already One Lap cars on the track. Soon I was in line waiting for my turn when all the cars on the track except one returned before their run was done. A Cadillac CTS-V driven by Robert went off the track and rolled over several times. It turns out that Robert was OK, but the car was destroyed. Robert is Swiss and owns a chocolate factory in Switzerland. He and a team of drivers come over to the U.S. every year to compete. He was able to rent a trailer and tow vehicle to carry the wreck back to where he garages his vehicles for the rest of the year.

 Robert’s car (before) 

 Robert’s car (after)

After they cleared the wreckage, it was my turn. Soon into the first lap the brakes started pulsating. We probably should have changed the pads and rotors at the last track. Into the second lap I had to start braking sooner for turns and by the third lap things really started going downhill. The brake pedal was going further down with each press of the pedal so I knew the intense heat was causing the brake fluid to boil. Also, every corner worker I went by was staring at my right front wheel as I would brake for the corner. The sparks must have been flying. Back at the paddock we looked at the brake pads and they were worn down to the metal backing plates and beyond. There was so much debris that came off the brake pads that the wheel weights were gone. Don still had the afternoon run to complete so we needed new pads and rotors right away. Rotors were not available from the local parts stores and the nearest BMW dealer was in Milwaukee which was over an hour away. It was doubtful that we could have had  the car back together in time for the afternoon run. We decided to get new pads from the local auto parts store and go with the scored rotors. Eric and Mike volunteered to drive us into town for new pads and the car was back together in time for Don’s afternoon run.

 The fan had not arrived even though I paid for overnight delivery so I called UPS and they said that it would arrive tomorrow. The nice people at Road America volunteered to ship the fan to Holliston when it arrived. So, now we had to somehow avoid stop and go traffic and we were 1,200 miles from home. Our immediate problem was avoiding Chicago traffic. We drove west almost to Madison, Wisconsin, then south to I80 then east on I80 to South Bend. This 150 mile detour got us around the Chicago traffic mess with no stops.


Day 10 Saturday May 12: Tire Rack -- distance traveled: 928 miles

The end of the week celebration was still going on when we arrived at the hotel in South Bend around 11 PM.  We joined the festivities for an hour or so. The next day was the last event – the dry skid pad at Tire Rack. I drove this one and was able to average .82 Gs. I was happy with that. After that event there was a banquet and presentation of trophies.


Don and I at the finish

We packed up the car one last time and drove the 928 miles home without running into any stop and go traffic. After I dropped Don off, I had to take a half hour nap at a service area on the Mass Pike near Springfield. I arrived home safely at 6 AM. My loving wife greeted me at the door and I was glad to be home. After much needed rest I thought about how great it is to live in the land of the free.

Comments (4)

Great article. This would make a great book. Full of adventure

Laurie | 2012-08-23 03:27:49

Wow, what a trip! I have driven across the country, but One Lap sounds intense. Congrats on making it back home safely with drivers and car in (mostly) one piece.

Mary Curran | 2012-08-08 23:17:22

Congrats on completing Road America. You guys must be in great shape to do that.

Paul | 2012-08-05 08:00:30

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series as a companion to the America in Bloom contest...the contrast of "there's a lot to see out there" with "there's no place like home"...thanks, Roy...

AnnT | 2012-08-05 07:27:27