Long-time followers of Kryderacing are aware of Reed’s involvement in the One Lap of America. From 1994 through 1997 he competed with Russ Wilson in a highly modified 1991 Corvette ZR-1. The pair posted two top five finishes, including a Top Independent Trophy to go with the Third Place Overall in 1996. After missing two years he returned last year driving with John Bender in a 1990 Corvette ZR-1. The duo finished Fifth Overall in one of the toughest fields ever seen for a One Lap. This year, John entered his new 2001 Corvette Z06. Reed‘s story follows:
May 3 (Thursday): Sandi transported the Kryderacing (mildly) prepped Z06 from our shops to the Watkins Glen area in New York. Through some miracle of flight scheduling, and being on time, Reed arrived from Miami only 10 minutes after John landed on his flight from Detroit. Reed’s luggage took a different flight and arrived the next day.
May 4 (Friday): Early day activities consisted of registration and application of decals. The application of decals is a major undertaking and we were fortunate Sandi was still available to assist us. Registration went smoothly with one exception. We were number 88. Your number is usually what organizers feel your seeding should be. Somehow, being seeded 88th of 89 entries didn‘t seem correct for the team which had finished fifth the previous year. The organizers quickly pointed out we had requested number 88. Who requested it remains a mystery.
We did see a lot of old friends. Occasional Kryderacing race driver Steve Ahlgrim was again paired with his brother in a Honda S2000. Jerry Churchill was back in his Viper and seeded just ahead of last year’s winners, who had requested number 10 for their Viper. The other Corvette Z06 was fielded by occasional TrackTime participants Ken Mennella and Ron Deppert. They were seeded 19th. And Robert Dubler once again joined us from Switzerland. This year he was driving an 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada. The Michelin One Lap of America is an annual affair for many people and numerous familiar faces were seen during the visiting which takes place during registration, tech, and decal applying. The day ended with a cocktail hour, competitor meeting, and dinner.
May 5 (Saturday): The first events were on the short course at Watkins Glen. Except for qualifying, which is a single timed lap, all events consist of a recon lap followed by three timed laps, and a cool-down lap. Several cars of similar potential performance (hence the importance of seeding) leave pit exit at 5-10 second intervals. As they finish the recon lap they line up near the start-finish line. From a standing start, three laps are run for a total time which is compared with the other 88 competitors to determine points. A cool-off lap follows and then most drivers head for the pit area hoping their partner has an idea how they finished.
Qualifying was a major surprise. Back in 1984-1987 Russ’ ZR-1 had 565 HP, last year John’s ZR-1 had close to 500 HP. This years Z06 had a stock drive-train (385 HP). Kryderacing had installed T-1 size front and rear anti-sway bars along with braided brake lines. A racing seat and harness system was also installed. A couple of other non-performance related changes were made. The car was very close to stock and qualifying in the top ten seemed a worthy, but maybe lofty goal. We qualified third, behind two Vipers being run by the One Lap winners from 1999 and 2000. Several potentially faster cars were already struggling and a couple of others would take a few events to hit their stride. Our amazement continued with third and fourth places in the two Watkins Glen competitions. We ended the day in fourth place, Reed’s best start ever.
The day also ended with a trip of over 600 miles. First stop was a visit to the Brock Yates Cannonball Pub in Wyoming, New York. It is a neat place in a very small town. Competitors could then travel to the Mid-Michigan Motorplex by either traveling through Ohio or cutting across Canada. We picked Canada and had no problems. As a matter of fact, the Canadian border guard totally ignored the fact there was a passenger in the Z06.
May 6 (Sunday): Michigan Motorplex was the only drag race competition this year. It was run as two separate competitions. The first was a simple quarter mile run. Fastest car gets the most points. Neither John or Reed had ever actually competed in on a drag strip in the past. Reed was elected to drive, since he had at least witnessed a drag race. We decided to run with the traction control turned on to help grip and to established what we felt would be a better way of predicting elapsed times for the bracket racing planned for the second competition. Reed was nervous as his turn to run approached. Even though he felt he knew the technique, he was doing it for the first time. Just to make sure he didn’t have an easy time, he was paired with a Mini for his run. The track announcer had a lot of fun talking about the big, bad Corvette and the toy sized Mini. Reed ran a 13.9 second run. It wasn‘t too bad for a first attempt. Unfortunately, the fact the car had a stock drive train was made obvious when over twenty competitors beat us. Your average One Lap car is not stock. The bracket race saw a first round elimination, but points are awarded for this in a manner which leaves everyone with no worse than a ninth place finish. All but one of the top competitors were eliminated in the first round.
After a trip of 125 miles everyone assembled at Michigan International Speedway for a single event. While our visit to the drag strip was not helpful, the results were somewhat expected. We hoped to get back in stride at MIS. We were in the first run group and had a great run going until Reed found too much gravel on the turn five apex. The spin took a long time to develop, and then took several twists as Reed first avoided buildings while going backwards and then had to keep the car out of the way of a rapidly approaching 650+ HP Mustang. He kept the car on the pavement and completed the run. At the end of the day, the #88 team had dropped to 10th in the overall standings.
After leaving MIS, we made an 800 mile trek to Topeka. Along the way we stopped at Holm Radiator in Des Moines, Iowa. We did arrive there first and found ourselves being filmed by the local media. We kept the stop short and continued towards Topeka. The biggest danger of evening was the numerous deer, alive and dead, encountered on the highway.
May 7 (Monday): Two separate events were scheduled for Heartland Park. Reed had raced there many years ago and the track was virtually unchanged. We were again, and would be for all remaining competitions, placed in the initial run group. At several tracks, including Heartland, this proved to be a problem. A dirty track combined with not being able to determine proper gears resulted in a 13th place finish in the morning run. This was very irritating, especially following the problems encountered in Michigan. Instead of moving up in the top ten, lunchtime at Heartland found us in 12th overall.
Vehicle inspection at lunchtime also revealed a broken front brake pad. We installed the spare set (Hawke HT8) and called Sandi requesting additional pads be sent to us at the Texas or Atlanta stop. We also noticed some severe cracks in the front brake rotors, but decided to leave them on and save our spare set for as long as we could.
The Corvette Z06 is equipped with a traction control system You can run with or without it. There is also a competition setting. We had been running without it, but decided to use it for the afternoon run. That run was smoother and we managed an eighth. Not good when compared with our Watkins Glen finishes, but an improvement over recent runs. It also raised us to 11th overall. That night we had a mere 520 mile run to Fort Worth, Texas. We even found time to stop for a sit-down dinner.
May 8 (Tuesday): The Texas Motorsport Ranch is in its second year of existence and many drivers, including Reed were new to the beautiful facility. The "facility" is a country club style track intended for private use by its members and club level events. It has numerous garage facilities and additional new building construction was ongoing while we were there. The track itself is very busy with numerous turns. Elevation changes create challenges, especially for novices learning the blind turns. It is probably a fun track once you learn its flow. Fortunately, Steve Ahlgrim had tested a Trans Am car there last year and was helpful during an early morning course walk. We also decided to again try the car in the competitive version of its traction control. Our logic was based on a dusty track, blind turns, and general lack of course knowledge. We had gotten an eighth at Topeka using it and felt it might keep us out of trouble. BIG mistake! The run felt good, but we finished 22nd. The dusty track severely limited traction and the Z06’s sensors really kept the power down. Later analysis also indicated our Heartland Park run could have been better with the traction control turned off.
Proof would come in the afternoon run when we left the traction control off. We finished a strong sixth. We were over 17 seconds quicker for the three lap run. We were happy with the sixth but figured the morning results may have done severe damage to our overall position. Apparently we weren‘t the only frontrunner struggling. We started our 900 mile run to Road Atlanta firmly in tenth place overall.
May 9 (Wednesday): We finished eighth in our first run at Road Atlanta and moved to ninth overall. Reed might have done better, but had a "two wheels off" incident exiting one of the turns. During lunchtime we installed the new front brake pads. The second set of Hawkes had not broken yet, but the cracks looked nasty. The new pads were PFC 01 compound. (Note: Their appearance at the end of the One Lap was excellent and their clamping power was much more consistent than the HT8.) While we were installing the pads we took another close look at the rotors. The cracks were growing, but we still didn’t change them.
Reed kept the car on the track in the afternoon and finished fifth. But we were still in ninth overall and, while gaining on eighth, we would probably need good results at all the remaining events to catch the expertly driven BMW in eighth place. We left Road Atlanta and headed for the Carolina Rod Shop. They build some fantastic machines in this facility. It is a routine stop for One Lappers whenever we are in the neighborhood. Then it was on to Danville, Virginia. The total drive from Road Atlanta was under 400 miles and we actually arrived at a motel during daylight hours.
May 10 (Thursday): Virginia International Raceway is another country club style facility. We first visited the track during last year’s One Lap. VIR is setting the standards for these types of tracks. It is a first class track in a beautiful setting. Like last year, we ran two separate sections of the track. The morning hours resulted in a ninth place finish on the South Course. We gained 20 more points on eighth place and were now 70 behind. With either three or four events left we were within striking range.
We used the North Course in the afternoon and once again being in the first group out was harmful. Just prior to the run there were a few raindrops seen in the staging area. When no further rain fell, the first group was flagged off onto what was believed to be a dry track. Most of it was, but at least one half mile of it on the back side was soaked. It was drying fast in the hot sun, but the entire first group of competitors found their times bettered by all but one of the second group of competitors and a few from the third group. All things considered we did good to finish ninth. Unfortunately we lost ten points in our quest for eighth place overall. We were going to Watkins Glen 80 points behind and the chances of overtaking the BMW did not look good.
Something else happened at VIR which we found interesting. Michelin is the major sponsor of the entire One Lap and all competitors must use Michelin tires if a size exists for their vehicle. The Corvette Z06 comes equipped with some very sticky Goodyears. Michelin does not make a direct size replacement. Reed decided to be "politically correct" and placed a set of ZR-1 rims with Michelin tires on the Z06. The other Z06 entered in One Lap did not own optional rims and opted to run the Goodyears. Reed had beat the other car at previous events but we were getting the feeling the Goodyears were significantly quicker. Then they beat us by one position in both VIR competitions. Driver Ron Deppert has racing experience at VIR and that definitely helped him. But it was also Ron‘s stated opinion that we had made a serious mistake in out tire choice and we would probably be running for first overall if we had run the Goodyears. We thought about this a lot during our 530 mile drive to Watkins Glen. The Z06 traction control was probably more compatible with the sticky Goodyears, especially since they were designed to work together. Did we mention our tires were the same ones we used on John‘s ZR-1 last year.
May 11 (Friday): We were back were we started. Could Reed duplicate his runs from a week (and over 4000 road miles) ago? The program called for three runs if time allowed. Could we make up 80 points if we got three runs? We finished fourth in the first attempt and the BMW was eleventh. We were now 45 points behind. We were starting to pray for that third run. During lunch we inspected the brakes. The pads looked fantastic and the rotors were still holding together, but looking very ugly.
When Reed took ran the first afternoon run he encountered a broken Corvette Grand Sport at the side of the track during the second lap and was also waved by the 650+ HP Mustang which had just lost its engine. The run felt good. But sometimes a good feeling run means you were just going too slow. Not this time. For the first time in six years of One Lap competition Reed took an outright win in an individual competition. Reed used his knowledge of Watkins Glen and a great handling Corvette Z06 to beat everyone. But we were still five points out of eighth place.
We got a third run at Watkins
Glen, but during the recon lap Reed felt a crack develop in one of the
front rotors. A very cautious three lap run dropped us to sixth place but
it was enough to move slightly ahead of the BMW for eighth place overall.
Eighth became seventh when the 650+ HP Mustang failed to run and lost many
points. Having no long distances to drive that evening we enjoyed several
drinks and a pleasant dinner with several fellow One-Lappers. May 12 (Saturday):
The awards banquet included a brunch. Last year’s overall winners made
it two in a row. Reed Kryder and John Bender took home a Seventh Place
Overall Trophy and a Third Place Trophy for the SSGT1 class. Reed and John
then drove over 300 miles to Reed’s shop in Clinton, Ohio. John continued
solo for a couple hundred more miles before arriving home in Milford, Michigan.
But those distances aren’t bad. Some One-Lappers originate on the West
coast. Think about their drives.
• Matt Miller, our crew chief, he building a new race car. A second generation Mazda RX7 which will compete in ITS.
• The current point standings
for the Kryderacing/Nelson Ledges Regional Championship Series are available
on our web page. www.kryderacing.com. The next event in the series is June