“HELPING PEOPLE ACHIEVE THEIR RACING OBJECTIVES”
It’s difficult to know how to tell the following story. The total scope of it is overwhelming in some ways. The bottom line centers on endurance. Actually, endurance has been a staple of Kryderacing for all of our existence. We have run numerous endurance races in the past. Over 20 twenty-four hour contests have been run at tracks like Daytona, Mid-Ohio, and Nelson Ledges. A dozen twelve-hour contests have been run at Sebring and Road Atlanta. And a long list of three to six-hour races populates our IMSA history. But endurance also applies to our company, its activities, and many of our associations. Kryderacing is relatively small and our continued existence is based upon giving quality service more than price or volume. For such a company to remain in existence for more then a quarter of a century also says something about our endurance. The following story tells a tale of endurance over the course of a few weeks this past May.
Let’s start with the basics. During the course of 38 days, Reed covered approximately 20,000 miles, raced on 20 different racetracks, competed in 27 separate events, ran 2 series (each over a week long), and slept overnight at numerous motels. He drove an IROC stock car, a Corvette Z06, a Corvette ZR-1, and a Nissan 240SX.
4/19: Flew from Cleveland to Miami to instruct (IROC cars) on the oval at Homestead Speedway.
4/29: Flew from Miami to Cleveland. Sandi picked Reed up at the airport at 11 pm and they immediately started driving to Las Vegas. The trip was needed to transport Russ Wilson’s Kryderacing maintained Corvette ZR-1 to the site of a future event.
5/1: 2100 miles later Reed and Sandi arrived in Las Vegas. We relaxed that night with only minor losses in the casino.
5/2: Sandi flew from Las Vegas to Cleveland. Reed joined her for that portion of the trip and then continued on to Rochester, New York. John Bender picked Reed up in Rochester.
5/3: The One Lap of America began. This year’s event was to cover over 5,200 miles with the start located in Rochester. John Bender owns the Corvette Z06 he and Reed would be driving. This was the third year the pair has teamed. They finished Fifth Overall in 2000 using a Corvette ZR-1 and Seventh Overall last year using the same Z06 they would use this year. John had made a couple of engine changes from last year and our hopes were high. It was a cold and windy day, but a big crowd showed for the best send-off Reed had ever seen in his seven One Lap events. Following a slow crossing of a historic (had not been used by vehicles for 50 years) downtown bridge, each vehicle was stopped while it and its drivers were announced to the large crowd. The crowd parted as the vehicle slowly advanced to a main street and then onto the expressway. This all took place in the early evening hours. Our first stop would be over 500 miles away in South Bend, Indiana.
(For those of you unfamiliar with The One Lap of America the concept is simple. During the course of a week, approximately 100 competitor teams will drive over 5,200 miles on our countries highways. Along the way they will make numerous stops at race tracks for competitions. These competitions usually consist of one lap to learn the track, immediately followed by a three lap timed run. Your total time for the three laps is compared to the other teams and points are awarded. There are NO second chances or attempts. While these on-track competitions award the points, the overall results are almost always affected by what happens on the highways between tracks. There is very little time to sleep, eat, or, if necessary, make vehicle adjustments or repairs. Small problems tend to snowball rapidly.)
5/4: After getting two hours sleep we arrived at the TireRack facility in South Bend, Indiana at about 5am. We could only stay a few minutes at their very new and impressive building. Then it was back onto the road for a 150-mile drive to Indianapolis Raceway Park. There would be four competitions at this track during the course of the day. Neither John nor Reed had ever seen the road course before. Reed’s first run was only 15th, but he improved to 9th for the afternoon event. The road course events were followed by drag racing. Reed was more experienced than John at this style of competition. He had done it twice. John had never done it. The lack of experience showed when he almost missed a shift. The slight miscue only cost a portion of a second, but it was very damaging. A 29th place finish should have been at least as high as 14th if the time turned in the later bracket competition had been matched. That represented a difference of 75 points in the drag race results. The bracket competition was a separate event and resulted in a 9th place finish. That sounds great until you realize everyone except the final eight eliminators are credited with ninth place points. We left the track with somewhat dashed hopes, drove 40 miles to a checkpoint in Greencastle, Indiana (the homemade food was terrific) and then another 600 miles to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
5/5: The next day started with another totally new race track. Not only was the track new to us, so was the style of racing. Tulsa Speedway is a dirt oval. Hard packed clay to be exact. The run was extremely bumpy, but actually started to be fun during the last lap. Unfortunately, we finished 25th. One note of interest was the third place finisher. It was a Lamborghini Diablo! In addition to the Diablo, all of the four-wheel drive vehicles did very good at the track. It was also obvious several competitors had practiced on the track. Following this event we traveled down the road to Hallett. Reed’s two runs at this road course netted the team two 6th place finishes. This was also the first time we could make a comparison with previous events. The time of the second run would have been good enough to win when Reed and Russ ran the event several years ago. At the end of the day we had moved up to 12th overall. During the 660-mile drive to Colorado Springs we experienced some very high winds and about five minutes of rain. Little did Reed know that was the only rain he would see for the next couple of weeks.
5/6: Reed had been on Pike’s Peak International Raceway one-mile oval, but never its road course. The infield is very tight and similar to an autocross. The Z06 is not set up for this type of track but we did manage a 9th in the morning which moved us to 10th overall. We improved to 8th in the afternoon event and moved to 9th overall. We were slowly moving up following our shaky start back in Indianapolis. That night’s drive was short, only 373 miles. It was nice to get to a hotel early, enjoy a steak dinner, and sleep a full eight hours.
5/7: Another day and another new track. Sandia Motorsports Park is located a few miles west of Albuquerque and is only two years old. It is small and very twisty, but the surface is wide and smooth. It is probably a great track to race smaller vehicles on, but a big V8 car is a handful. We finished 7th in the morning event and improved to sixth in the afternoon. We stayed in 9th overall. Gaining additional overall positions now looked difficult. That night we had an 820-mile drive which included the loss of an hour due to a time zone change.
5/8: At Texas Motor Speedway we had two different courses. Reed had done a few laps of the short course years ago, but had never seen the long course. Texas also saw the return of several competitors who had been “missing” from the last couple of events due to mechanical problems. We finished seventh on both the 2.9 and 1.8 mile courses. We were solidifying our 9th overall, but making very slow progress on moving to 8th. That nights drive included the loss of another hour due to a time zone change. We also covered over 950 miles.
5/9: We had been to Road Atlanta before. And the Z06 is comfortable on this type of track. It really showed during the first run when we finished 3rd. This was also the only track on which we could compare times taken before and after the engine modifications made earlier this year. The car was definitely quicker this year. It was close to a second a lap faster than last year’s best times. The afternoon run should have been quicker, but we experienced an ABS System failure which disrupted the run and flat-spotted both front tires, especially the right side. The run was still good enough for a 5th place which moved us to 7th overall. (Note: Since the event we have been discussing the ABS problem with several people and may have found the cause as well as a solution.) We left the track, drove 95 miles to the Carolina Rod Shop (a great place), and then another 480 plus miles before we stopped for a few hours sleep.
5/10: Summit Point has never been a great track for Reed. And we don’t know why. It is a neat place, but Reed is always just a tick of the watch slower there than other places. His two 9th place finishes dropped the team back into 9th overall at the end of the day. We drove over 500 miles that night, but still stopped early enough to get another steak dinner.
5/11: The last event was a paved oval at Lancaster, NY. Our 8th place finish moved us back into 8th overall for the final standings. The competition had been very close all week long. Our biggest disappointment was the 75 points lost in the early week drag race competition due to the shift miscue was enough to cost us 5th place overall. There was another bridge crossing back in Rochester that afternoon. The awards party followed it. Unfortunately, Reed missed it because he was on a plane back to Las Vegas. John drove across solo. Later in the evening Russ Wilson picked Reed up at the Las Vegas airport, they retrieved Russ’ Corvette ZR-1 from the Kryderacing trailer, and headed for Pahrump, Nevada and the Open Track Challenge.
(Those of you unfamiliar with the Open Track Challenge are not alone. This was its first year. Organized by NASA, it is similar to the idea of One Lap of America in that it consists of separate competitions on a variety of tracks during the course of a week. The similarity ends at that statement. Comparisons of the two events can be found later in this newsletter. During the OTC, each day for seven days a competition is held at a different race track. Each competition allows the drivers four 20-minute sessions of track time. The three best lap times from the four sessions are totaled and compared to other competitors to determine your score for the day. In the evening you travel from one race track to the next. At the end of the week, the seven event scores are totaled to determine overall results.)
5/12: The first event was at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park near Pahrump. We finished third in class behind a very fast Viper and a Corvette Z06. This Viper would go on to easily dominate our class at all of the events. The car was prepped well beyond a stock Viper and the driver was talented. The battle in this class would be for second through fourth. That night we drove though the Death Valley area of California and eventually arrived at Willow Springs.
5/13: Willow Springs International Raceway is a very fast track. We finished third again, but this time the second Viper beat us. There was now a three-way tie for second between us, the Viper, and the fastest of a bunch of Corvette Z06 competitors. Paul Arevalo joined Russ and I for most of the day and dinner. Prior to dinner we purchased some tools in order to lower the car for the next day. The evening was relaxing since the next day’s event was located very close by.
5/14: The Streets of Willow is beside Willow Springs and presents different challenges. While Willow Springs is very fast, the Streets are tight. After the first two of our four runs we were in fifth place. We were using Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 Supercar tires and were starting to question our choice of air pressures. Pressures used for previous types of tires seemed too high. We called longtime friend John Taube (Goodyear Tire Engineer) and he confirmed our thoughts. Actually, he indicated we needed to go further with our changes. We moved to third place during the third session, but we would need some really fast laps in the last session to improve further. In the last session, Reed pulled in early when he thought the goal times had been met. A quick look at the times indicated we were marginal. He re-entered the track and managed to complete only one more lap. It turned out to be necessary and it was fast enough. The second place finish put our ZR-1 in sole position of second place in the standings. That night’s drive was only 150 miles.
5/15: Buttonwillow is one of the newer tracks built in California by the local sports car clubs. It is a very nice facility and constantly being improved with new structures and other additions. There are numerous track configurations possible and we would be using one of the longest. Lap times were in the two-minute range. It was another hot day which would prove typical of the entire trip. The battle for second place in our class continued. We added camber to the front wheels in order to improve handling. We were in second place after three of the four runs. But our competitors went faster early in the last run. We had been waiting in the pits conserving tires and brakes. When it became apparent our earlier times would not be good enough we stormed out onto the track and managed to run fast enough to retrieve the position. This competition was getting exciting. That night Russ’ son, Cameron, joined us for the 365-mile drive to Thunderhill.
5/16: Thunderhill is the other club built California track. It is a beautiful facility, except for the total lack of shade. Multiple layouts are possible, but we used the main three-mile circuit. After the first two sessions we found ourselves in fourth and running out of ideas on what to change. The extreme heat encountered at all the tracks was making fast afternoon sessions impossible unless some major vehicle improvements were found. We had been experiencing some minor brake problems so we decided to adjust the balance. It worked and we improved to third place during the third run. With no mechanical ideas left, Reed decided to try driving the last session as if it were a race rather than a qualifying session. In other words, relax and drive as if you are going to be on the track for an hour or more. Ever race driver has heard the old story of slowing down so you can go fast. It’s the same idea and it works. Reed found the tracks rhythm and turned his three fastest laps during the last session. The fast Z06 also improved and it would not be until the next day when we discovered we had secured another second, this time by just 0.081 seconds.
5/17: We had driven back from Thunderhill to Buttonwillow the previous evening. This Buttonwillow competition was in the reverse direction from the previous one and used some alternate corners. In almost a repeat performance of the previous day we managed to beat our competition again with three fast laps in the last session. This time the victim was the Viper and the margin was only 0.017 seconds. During the 320-mile drive to Las Vegas that evening (by the way, Friday night drives from southern California to Las Vegas are not for the weak of heart) we were looking at our accomplishments over the past four days. In the battle for second place we had topped our competition four straight days. The scoring showed a total time of 23:29.048 versus 23:30.183 for a total margin of victory of 1.135 seconds for the four events. The fact we prevailed in all four events gave us a small points cushion for the last day.
5/18: While the pressure was off, we still had to turn a respectable time to keep our second position. We ran the infield road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We finished second again, but this time we established the times early in the day. The battle between the Viper and the fastest Z06 stayed intense and the final results placed them in a tie for third place for the week. The Z06 won the tiebreaker. Russ and Reed left the track, loaded the ZR-1 into the trailer, relaxed in their rooms, and returned to the track in the evening for a well-done awards banquet.
5/19: Finally a day to relax. Reed joined Russ for breakfast before Russ left for home. Reed spent the rest of the day relaxing before picking Sandi up at the airport late in the evening. A small amount of gambling followed before sleep and a late morning start of the 2100-mile drive home.
5/22: Reed and Sandi arrived home late in the evening.
5/24: Memorial Day weekend
offered no rest. There was a SCCA Regional at Nelson Ledges Road Course.
Reed co-drove with Zach Arnold to a third place in the enduro. Zach drove
the Kryderacing Nissan 240SX ITS classed car like a veteran in his inaugural
ONE-LAP OF AMERICA versus OPEN TRACK CHALLENGE
As one of only three people competing in both events, Reed was asked numerous times for his thoughts concerning the two events. An early impression remained true. The only similarity is the fact you cover a lot of race tracks during the course of a week. Everything else is different.
The organization of the events is different. One-Lap has been around for many years and a lot of the procedures are well known to organizers and competitors alike. The OTC is brand new, but was well handled for a first time function. Many participants in One Lap are regulars and this annual event is a major re-union for them. A large number of the OTC competitors knew each other from previous West Coast track functions. While outsiders like Russ and Reed were somewhat ignored early in the week, by the end they were like old friends.
Treatment of the vehicles is different. In One-Lap the competitors and vehicle are “self-contained” for the length of the event. There are no support vehicles and everything you think you might need (clothes, spare parts, tools, etc) must be transported from event site to event site with you in your vehicle. It sounds simple, but the logistics of figuring what to pack and what gets left behind is not easy. For example, try to determine what clothing you would pack for a nine-day trip knowing you were allowed only one small duffle bag. You could encounter a variety of weather during the week. Don’t forget your extra shoes and toiletries also must go into the bag. OTC has two separate divisions for their competitors. While one division is similar to One-Lap in mandating cars be driven on the highways between tracks, the other division allows trailers to be used. Many of the OTC vehicles are pure race vehicles. Even the cars driven between tracks are allowed support systems. It is necessary due to the high wear rate of components (such as tires) resulting from close to nine hours of actual “on track“ time during the week.
Russ and Reed used a Suburban to carry an extra set of tires, tools, parts, and clothing during the week. A lot of the things they carried would have been left behind under One-Lap’s “self-contained” rules.
The evenings were very different. Most sleep time during One-Lap occurs in the car. Arriving at your motel at 3 am means you get to sleep in a bed for a few extra hours. Arriving at your motel at 2 am means you made terrific time that particular evening. During OTC, you can leave early for the next site if you are satisfied with your times. Even if you were the last group and made every run you still were on the road by 4:30 pm and easily in bed at you motel long before midnight. And the evening included a nice sit-down meal instead of the normal fast-food (“to go” of course) menu used during One-Lap.
The actual “on track” competitions are very different. One-Lap allows only a single attempt. It favors styles used by rally drivers and autocrossers over those of road racers. OTC allows four 20-minute sessions to learn the track and study your competition. It allows vehicle adjustments between sessions. It favors road racer styles over rally and autocross.
Which is more fun? That is an unfair question because the answer is closely related to how well your week went. One-Lap this year was very rewarding in some ways, but it was also frustrating in other ways (the drag race). Overall the felling was very good. OTC on the other hand was filled with challenges in which we came out on top, and sometimes by the smallest of margins. The feelings generated by winning over stiff competition are wonderful.
Which is harder? One-Lap is much more difficult. The OTC competition during the sessions is more intense than One-Lap, but OTC off-track activities are much more relaxing. OTC advertises “7 tracks in 7 days” and the 7 competitions are like seven separate races. In this case they are on seven consecutive days instead of spread out through a season. One-Lap creates an environment which does not allow resting. Events seem to come with very little rest between them. If you have a problem, or even make a wrong turn on the highway, it hurts your effort. The mental pressures never relax during One-Lap. The few teams struggling in the evenings during OTC (and several did) would find pressures similar to those experienced by all of the One-Lap competitors.
Which one does Reed prefer?
The best way to answer that is by saying he plans on attending both again