One Lap of America is a substantial challenge. It covers thousands of miles, 12 states, and 18 motorsport events… and all in about 10 days. That doesn’t even include getting to the start or getting home. How do you tackle all that?
Well, if I were to summarize our plan it would be: we have no clue. We don’t know what we don’t know at this point.
Step 1: Research.
Oddly enough, there isn’t a ton of material on preparing for OLOA. I have found a couple good resources for participating in the event, folks sharing their stories and adventures, but prepping is apparently the secret sauce. Here’s a selection of the better ones I’ve found:
Step 2: Make a plan
No idea if the plan is right, but at least you have a target. Initially the plan is focused on car preparation and packing supplies for the trip. As we get closer, we’ll add our itinerary. I’ve also reached out to the Mini community over on the NAM forums to start putting together a list of friendly mechanics, shops and contacts for support on the trip.
Step 3: Practice
With the format of this event, you’ve got to be ready to compete immediately. With unlimited funds, the smart thing to do would be to find an HPDE event at every venue and put in the time behind the wheel. You’ll have a huge advantage. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have unlimited funds, nor do I have the time to get around to all those events. What is the next best thing? I actually think it is 2 things. First, I’m reaching out to my community contacts to see if I can get in contact with driver instructors that have taught at each venue. I’ll spend some time on the phone the with them watching on-board videos and taking detailed notes on the track. So far, I’ve been successful for both Barber Motorsports Park and CMP. If you are a driver instructor and want to help, please get in touch.
The next item is getting track time. We’ve already established that I don’t have the funds or time to get the track time, so we’ll have to do the next best thing. It’s time to get on the Simulator. I’ve got some good experience here, I’ve been sim-racing for nearly 20 years. There’s been so many through the years, whether is was the SimBin GTR / GTL franchise, rFactor, LiveforSpeed, Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo, or so many others. The virtual track time here is going to be in Assetto Corsa. Fairly modern sim, tons of modding support. It should provide the best all around experience and let me practice the line and notes that I’m able to pick up from the driver coaches. I’ve already dug around the internet and pulled some resources to create the virtual One Lap of America:
I’ve got some good experience at Barber that use as a benchmark. I’ll adjust the car until I’m running roughly the same lap times, speed deltas, and able to approximate the actual driving of the track to match my experience. From there, I’ll start working on all the other tracks. I’m not interested as much in the actual lap time as I am in positioning the car and knowing what to expect around each corner. The point with this is so that when we to a track in real life, we’ll be able to attack it and not just spend our time trying to figure out where the track goes fast.
Step 4: Have fun
I absolutely want to win. I’m too competitive to push that out of my mind. However the reality is, whatever position we finish in we come home and things are the same. If we win, there isn’t some life changing cash prize. If we lose, there isn’t some huge shame that will stay with us. This event is about the experience. With that in mind, our first and most important goal is to finish. The second goal is to enjoy the experience. Being a miserable jerk the whole time defeats the purpose.