TireRack’s One Lap of America 2023 Presented by Grassroots Motorsports is about to kick off. For me, it has been quite a journey just to get to the start line. It’s been 2 years of planning and effort. We were late on the entry button last year and never made it off the wait list to get in that event, but I spent the entire time up to that event preparing for it. It was disappointing not to get to go, but the lesson was learned: we needed to be faster to get registered. Thankfully, Tim Miller shot me a message as soon as registration opened up and I dropped what I was doing to get registered. In fact I was in such a rush to get my name on the list, that I managed to lose my wedding ring in the process.

The extra time wasn’t all bad. The Mini is a completely different car from where it was when we first registered for the 2022 event. It’s much more capable of performing on track, and should be more reliable as well. The sacrifice was creature comfort. Stiff suspension, race seats, low profile tires and a roll bar don’t add up to a luxurious highway cruiser.

Preparation went beyond the car itself. I’ve had the time to finish building the trailer and test it:

I was able to get back into Sim-racing with the group over at GRM Forums. It’s been good to reconnect with the group and get back into the fun. It does also serve a practical purpose as well. With the modding community around sim-racing (and specifically Assetto Corsa) I was able to get a reasonable approximation of my actual Mini (power, weight and distrobution, suspension settings, etc.) and versions of all the tracks that are on the schedule for One Lap.

I didn’t get as much practice as I would have liked, but still a lot more than if I just relied on getting to those tracks in person or watching videos. I know some people discount the value of “video games” in real life… but they are just wrong. The ability to actually drive a course and see a perspective that you are in control of makes a huge difference and improves the memory of the track if it does nothing else. It helps you know where to go fast or go slow, even if the speeds are exactly perfect. Some of the best modeled tracks can even help with identifying important markers on the track.

These are the best times, but they are the most recent. I would expect to be ~10% slower than the virtual lap times:

The virtual cars tend to be faster than in real life, the track scale may not be perfect (some of the tracks are work-in-progress versions), and you can be a lot more brave when you have a reset button.

The extra time also gave us the “opportunity” to discover a valve about to go bad. Which gave us some panic work to get the head rebuilt and a valve job done. Despite some bumps (literal) with shipping, Way Motor Works and Corsa Crew were able to get the work done in just enough time to have the car ready.

In the end, everything has come together. The car is ready, the event tires are being mounted as I type and will be installed tonight for the drive up to South Bend. We’re as prepared for the things in our control as we can be, now it is just time to enjoy the journey.

With all the work, time and prep into this, I’ll leave myself with my own advice… “Don’t Suck”