Click for Larger Image

Let’s get something straight right away: There are only two reasons to participate in motorsports. The first reason is to impress and seduce women, and this applies when you are single. The second reason is to escape your wife, and this applies when you are married. The Cannonball One Lap of America is a miserable failure when it comes to Reason #1. After all, women only know about two kinds of racing: NASCAR and Grand-Am. They know about NASCAR because it’s on TV, and they know about Grand-Am because Patrick Dempsey races in it.

Therefore, if you want to impress women, you’d better be a NASCAR driver, a Grand-Am driver, or a club racer who is willing to blur the barrier between racing an old Neon in the rain and the 24 Hours of Daytona. The One Lap of America, like autocross, rallycross, rallying, drag racing, and the Red Bull Air Races, does not impress women. Don’t bother to try.

It is a fantastic way to get away from your wife, however, which covers Reason 2 and accounts for One Lap’s popularity, waning though it may be. Your humble author is a former One Lap champion, although that, ahem, “championship” came in an uncontested class at the wheel of a diesel Mercedes. For that reason, I feel eminently qualified to make authentic One Lap predictions. We’re also trying to throw Brock a bone here: nobody’s cared about One Lap for years, and we’d like to change that. So, without further ado…

Here’s how One Lap works. You go to the Tire Rack and drive on a skidpad. Then you drive around about half the country to seven or eight different racetracks and do a three-lap time trial at each one. At some places, you do a couple of time trials. Then you return to the Tire Rack and drive the skidpad one more time. It takes about a week. There’s no wheel-to-wheel action, so it’s not a race, and don’t pretend it is. It’s a time trial. The event rewards consistency and favors fast cars driven conservatively over fast drivers in slow cars. We’ve made predictions for each class and the overall win below.

SSGT1 Big Bore and Overall Win: Derek Whitis and Tom Long, Switzer P800 GT-R

There’s no defending champion this year, as four-peating champ Mark DaVia has opted to skip the 2009 event due to impending childbirth. DaVia’s won over and over again thanks to the combination of high power, all-wheel-drive, and consistent event finishes, and it’s not hard to imagine he could win it again this year should he choose to show up at the last minute.

With DaVia’s absence, however, we are picking a fast man in a very fast Nissan. Derek Whitis was a “Lap Puppy” back in 2005, driving a South African crapwagon “Noble” kit car. There was a lot of player-hating talk about Derek among the One Lap insiders, because he makes a big splash wherever he goes, but he earned respect with fast times early in the event before hitting the wall at VIR. In the following years, he battled reliability issues, fell down the order, and once had to finish the event in a rented Cadillac Escalade.

But while the “Lap Dogs” have been busy talking smack on the Internet, Derek’s become a front-running Koni Challenge driver. Together with his Koni co-driver, Tom Long, he’s contesting the event in a Switzer P800 GT-R. Further additions of wind-tunnel-tested aero and Rolex-level suspension components have resulted in fifty-eight-second laps of BeaveRun. I took a ride with Tom during our Switzer test and was very impressed. Derek and Tom are running between 5 and 10 seconds a lap faster than DaVia did last year. Will it be enough? Let’s hope so. Derek and Tom deserve to win, in part because they’re among the very few actual racers in One Lap.

SSGT1 Small Bore: Up For Grabs There are plenty of solid entries in this class, but nobody stands out as a clear winner. Forced to pick, we would take the Porsche Cayman S of Jonathan Noble.

SSGT2 Big Bore: Phil Munschauer and Russell Vester, Mustang GT They’re all alone in the class, which is usually won by a Mustang.

SSGT2 Small Bore: George and Lauren Bruggenthies, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo George is the fellow who kicked me and my co-driver out of Road America during One Lap 2006, and he was right to do so. Lauren is his daughter, and she looks like she should play a librarian in a music video where the librarian turns sexy halfway through said video. More importantly than that they are competent drivers who know the tracks and know how to fix their car, so they are our pick. Don’t count Reg Noble in his GTI out, though.

Mid-Priced Sedan: Douglas Wind and Devin Clancy, Dodge SRT-4 Douglas Wind represents everything douche-tastic about One Lap: he’s an Internet loudmouth, he’s never bumped a fender, and he’s the classic example of a hack driver in a high-power car. Still, give the guy respect: he sets lap records and usually finishes, so we expect him to finish first in class. Our sentimental pick is Fay Teal, C. David Teal, and Wayne Hickman, who represent everything wonderful about One Lap. Every year, they run to promote MS awareness, set solid lap times, and make friends along the way.

Truck: Robert Dubler, 2001 GMC Jimmy Hailing all the way from Switzerland (I think), Robert Dubler is famous for driving small cars at eleven tenths. He’s running almost unopposed this year, but he’s kicked a lot of ass in previous years using vehicles as boring as four-cylinder, stick-shift Grand Ams, so expect him to raise eyebrows this year.

Retro Car: Markus Pizzali, Chevrolet HHR SS. Part of Dubler’s crew, Pizzali is running unopposed this year.

Vintage Foreign: Theodore Goneos and David Campbell, 1980 Porsche 911SC Theodore is the kind of guy you hope you’ll meet in an event like One Lap, having run in a “Smokey and the Bandit” Trans Am in previous years. This year he’s in a 911, and it looks like David Goodman, the usual class winner, is skipping the event.

Vintage American: Too Close To Call There are three solid contenders here, and to be honest, we can’t figure out who should win.

Luxury Sedan: Howard LaFever, 2009 Cadillac CTS-V Without a doubt, LaFever’s the guy to win this. Doesn’t mean he will win, but Howard is a fearless driver who knows how to drive big-power cars. This year he has the fastest stock sedan money can buy, so don’t bet against him.

Econo Car: Mike Roberts and Greg Hagopian, Honda Civic si Participation in this class has fallen off compared to years past, but Roberts and Hagopian know what’s required to win.

Alternative Fuel: Until somebody sets better lap times than I did in our 2005 Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI, I consider myself the permanent champion of this class. Just kidding, but look for it to be either an empty class or a one-driver field.

So there you have it. Follow along at onelapofamerica.com if you’re interested during the event, and we’ll try to have an interview with the winner when it’s all over!

About author View all posts

Jack Baruth

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Speed:Sport:Life

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading