The One Lap Of America competition is grueling eight-day-long event incorporating 18 stages at nine different venues including drag racing, autocross, skid pad (wet and dry), circle track, and of course, road racing.
When Tim Wheeler, VP of Sales and Marketing at Roush Performance, asked if I’d like to drive a 2013 Ford Mustang Roush Stage 3 car in the 2012 One Lap of America event, I was taken aback by the offer, and honored to have the chance. I’d share the driving duties with Jeff Lacina, owner of Track Guys Performance Driving Events, and we quickly hatched a plan for the competition.
Since this is an endurance race, our plan was to run hard, but not overdo it. You can’t afford mistakes. Any miscue on track can kill your time and with only three hot laps per session, there is little chance to make it up. And you have to drive from venue to venue, which elevates the pressure put on the vehicles and drivers throughout the entire event.
As we put each track in the books, we loaded our stuff and quickly headed out to the next venue. The shortest drive was about 300 miles; the longest more than 625. The Roush RS3 Mustang performed flawlessly, with a proper balance of power, handling, and braking. And it was comfortable and smooth on the road. On the track, it was predictable and responsive.
The One Lap of America was one of the most challenging things I have done. We battled sleep deprivation and fatigue, and dealt with the long tedious drives. Nevertheless, we maintained our focus and got our adrenaline going when we needed it. It was a victory just to survive – I give credit to all the teams that compete in this event.
While we got off to a slow start on the wet skid pad, we navigated the quarter-mile banked oval at South Bend Motor Speedway and we moved up in points. We soon got comfortable with the race format and, despite our rookie status, we found ourselves atop the leaderboard in our class, SSGT2 Big Bore.
Jeff and I shared driving duties and I must say my co-driver was lightning quick. We poured on the coals and by the time we made the grueling 625-mile drive from Hastings, Neb., to Brainerd, Minn., at 2:12 a.m., Jeff and I had a nice lead. Though worn out from the miles, we got pumped up just enough to top our competitors in the road course and drag race events of the day, and that gave us a sizeable 130-point lead going to the fastest track of the week, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Road America is four miles long, has elevation changes and a blind turn or two. The supercharged Roush Mustang flexed its muscles and we achieved speeds of 148 mph in two places on the track. It is something to throw the shifter into fifth and keep your foot on the floor for what seemed like an eternity.
With no time to rest, we clocked the final 275-mile leg back through Chicago on our way to the Tire Rack facility. And after pulling a 0.97g average on the skid pad, we ensured the win for Roush Performance, Muscle Mustang & Fast Fords magazine and Track Guys Performance Driving Events.
Evan Smith is the editor of Muscle Mustang & Fast Fords magazine. Evan is a die-hard Ford racer who has been racing Mustangs for more than two decades. He has held multiple NHRA national records and has over 20 NHRA wins. Evan has competed in events such as the Spectre 341 Hill Climb in Nevada and most recently won the First Annual Cobra Jet Shootout at Milan Dragway. In addition, Evan has served as test driver for Ford Racing’s Cobra Jet drag racing program.