One Lap of America 2022 just finished last week. TomO and Steve pulled out the back to back victory against Andy and Alex in SuperK. At the risk of starting a flame war… is this a victory for bought over built?
Even though we didn’t make it in this year’s event, I did take some time off and went out to join the circus as it cruised through Barber Motorsports Park. This was my first in person experience with OLOA. It felt very much like a local autocross. Everyone gets to the site and preps their car for their runs. Weather permitting, there are 2 runs (morning and afternoon). Cars are come to the grid and take their runs in order of speed: fastest cars first. The really fast cars (overall contenders) take off in groups of 4, then as the cars slow down (and based on the size of the track) the groups will go up to 6-7. The runs themselves consist of a warm-up/recon lap, then come to a stop at the Start-Finish line. Green flag waves and cars are sent off every 20ish seconds for 3 consecutive hot laps. After the third lap the checkered flag is shown and the cars use the next lap to cool down and pull into the pits. Once the track is clear, the next group is sent.
A couple key observations from my visit:
- There’s a lot of down time. There’s a lot of waiting either before or after your run (depending on how fast your car is). The fast cars started their runs about 8:30, but it was nearly 11 before the Sundae Cup cars got their runs. It took 3 hours to complete the run group.
- The spirit of Co-opetition (competition + cooperation). As much as you are trying to do your best, maybe beat the rivals in your class, you are trying to survive the event. OLOA is an endurance event and takes a toll on the cars and the people. Some teams have large toolsets, skills and capabilities; others not so much. I watched teams help others with repairs from accidents during commutes, I saw another team actually help weld up (yes, they packed a welder) a crack. Not to mention all the discussions on the track and approach.
- There’s a wide array of drivers and skill. There are folks like Randy Pobst who can hustle a SUV around with the fastest of the cars and drivers, then you have some at the other end of the spectrum who’s experience / skill / confidence have them in fast cars but behind faster drivers in “slow” cars. And finally, you have everyone in the middle.
I had a great time meeting everyone and hanging out as long as I could.