The schedule called for a registration day at the Waterford Estates Lodge in South Bend, Indiana. Tire Rack, one of the largest tire distributors in the country, is headquartered in South Bend, Indiana. Tire Rack has been the title sponsor of the One Lap event for the past <insert large number> years, so the event begins and ends at their facility.
Having gotten to bed so late, and not being sure of the exact schedule, I told Dad and Taylor to sleep in. I would get up at 8a and go check in for us to see what needed to be done for the day. I haven’t done this event since 2008, so I wasn’t sure what, if anything, had changed.
I got up at 830a, got dressed, and headed toward the lobby, where registration took place. I myself felt like a runover sack of meat, but I was wildly pleased that we made it to the start. Many things had to go right for us to get there in time, so I was thankful for the combination of luck and perseverance. Proud, you might say.
The parking lot seemed awfully empty, and I learned why. Registration entailed signing a waiver, paying, and picking up the required stickers to be placed on the vehicle. You then had to put the stickers on the car, get sticker placement and helmet and race suit eligibility checked. You had until 3p to get that done. Damn, I could’ve slept in too.
Since Dad and Taylor weren’t there to sign in with me, I didn’t even sign, pay, or pick up stickers. I stopped briefly to dine at the “free continental breakfast” (1 crusty old bagel, a half functioning toaster, and a glass of cloudy water), then went back to the room to take a nap.
I cruised by the front desk on the way back to pick up a package that had been shipped to us at the hotel. One of the most important items I needed to pack from my house was a HANS (Head And Neck Support) device. It’s a piece of safety equipment that keeps your head from moving too far from your shoulders in the event of a crash. It’s a life saver, literally. I remembered to pack a backup microphone for my backup microphone, but I left the HANS device at home.
Honestly, I didn’t even realize I’d forgotten it when we packed up in Seattle. Dad did.
Dad: “Hey, where’s the HANS device?”
Damen: “Well, shucks, Pa, it seems I may have left it at home”
I frantically called my exquisite wife, Ryann, in a furious panic. She’s an angel among angels, and she immediately dropped everything to ship the HANS device via UPS Store to the Waterford Estates Lodge in South Bend by Thursday. Thanks, Ryann! And big shoutout to the guys at the UPS store who helped her get it packed and shipped super quickly for a great price! Thanks guys! It arrived in time and in perfect shape.
Once back in the room, I hopped back in bed. Taylor and Dad were still out; they never even knew I left. As I laid there, I started thinking about what else I might have forgotten to pack, and I settled on a racing suit. Taylor had ordered one, and I saw it in his apartment back in Seattle, but I never saw it go in the car or trailer. I started to panic. But I didn’t want to wake anyone up about it since we were so behind on sleep. I deliriously searched the internet to see if there was anyway I could overnight a racing suit to South Bend so we’d be okay for Saturday’s start.
While I was scouring Amazon shipping options, Taylor woke up.
“Ya dude, it’s in my suitcase”
Well, okay then; all good. It was 10am.
We all got up and got ready. Dad and I went to complete the registration process while Taylor got ready.
The parking lot was filling up with competitors, and they looked pretty serious. 1000hp Nissan GT-R’s, loads of Porsches and Corvettes, even some fully stripped out and caged race cars. We had seen the entry list before arriving, so none of it was a surprise. Still, it was quite a sight. Part of the fun of the event is getting to hang around awesome cars. This year would be no exception.
The Volvo looked tame in comparison, but we were anxious to unleash the Swedish Beast within anyhow.
On the way from Seattle, we had maintained a growing list of things to get once we were in South Bend. Dad would hang out with Taylor a bit while I went to Walmart to get the goods. When I got back, we’d sticker up the car, get our inspection done, go get the Last-Minute Spare Tire, and be back in time for the driver’s meeting at 3p. It was a little after 1130a.
I went to Walmart for cold medicine, Tylenol, ibuprofen, folding chairs, duffle bag, soap, batteries, oil, oil filter, rags, carwash, ziplock bags, laundry detergent, and a storage tote. It takes like 10 seconds to type, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to get at the store. The longer I was there, the angrier I got, and the worse I shopped. And I’m a terrible shopper to start. I didn’t get out of there until after 1240p, so I called Dad to tell him I was going to pick up the World’s-Most-Expensively-Shipped Spare Tire. Walmart was halfway there.
The timing actually worked out pretty well. Thanks to Tire Rack for having the tire at the front desk and getting me in and out of there in less than 5 minutes. They were really busy and went out of their way to speed things up. In fact, when I walked in, I saw one familiar looking tire behind the front desk. I told the sales rep, "Hey I think that's my tire."
Rep: "Wouldn't that be nice and easy..."
Me: "No, for real, i think it is."
*Rep checks tire*
Rep: "Well okay then. That was was nice and easy."
Back at the hotel, Dad, Taylor, and I went out to apply all the stickers to the Volvo. It was super windy, so having an extra set of hands to help was nearly required. I set up some cameras to capture video and time lapse of the sticker job, and some day I’ll be able to edit it all and put it on here. I’m so far behind on updates right now as I cruise down I-75 in Florida on Monday, May 8, typing as fast as I can and uploading pictures at AOL Dial-up speeds from the back seat of the Volvo while Dad drives and Taylor watches track videos to prep for tomorrow.
The stickering went well. The Volvo was now officially a race car!
It was 240p when we finished.
We hustled over to the tech area. Our sticker job was approved, and the tech inspectors spray painted our tires with the manufacturer name to both advertise and ensure that we didn’t swap tires during the week. One of the few rules states that you must complete the entire event using the same set of tires. Exceptions will be made for flats along the way, but you better keep the dead tire to prove it was a legitimate flat. If you change tires, you’re disqualified.
3p drivers meeting in the conference/ballroom of the hotel. Everyone was excited and in good spirits. The organizer and head of the event, Brock Yates Jr., told everyone to not be an idiot and it would be a good week. If you were an idiot, he’d throw you out. That was about it. I took a bunch of video during the meeting, as I hope to do during the week as well. Seeing how the trend is going, I expect you won’t see it for quite some time. Sorry, I’m just too slow to keep up with all the content we’re generating. I hope you’ll check back on the site even after the event is over to see some of the cool stuff. Photos, video, interviews, track video, time-lapse, and slow-motion.
After the main drivers meeting, the new people stayed behind for further explanation of the logistics of the week. I sat with Taylor and Dad to listen and practice my cinematography skills. There was another guy taking video at the same time. His name was Walter (probably still is), and I’d hang out with him later in the evening.
With our required tasks completed, we went to have our first meal of the day at 5pm. We went across the street to Steak and Shake for some super mediocre food.
After dinner, we worked on cleaning the car, putting on some extra stickers, and getting organized. I went through nearly a full bottle of wash and wax trying to handle to mess of the meat wagon. I got it sort of mostly clean and threw the rag away. There was no saving it.
While I was packing/cleaning/stickering, I noticed a video drone flying overhead; a DJI Mavic. Now, I’m a whatever-comes-below-amateur wanna-be photo/video enthusiast, so I was eager to see this relatively new and very well-reviewed drone, in action. It was Walter!
Walter wasn’t actually participating in One Lap. He was part of a media team that works for Falken tires. Falken was sponsoring two cars in the event (#4 and #34), and they had sent along a team to film what will be a short documentary/marketing piece. He’s a really nice and interesting guy; I hope we get to talk cameras more during the week!
Dad came out to help me clean/pack/sticker, and Taylor stayed in the room to try to diagnose/solve our engine cutting in/out problem via internet research/phone-a-friend. It was looking like a fuel-pressure sensor, but he was still gathering opinions and data.
While we continued on the car, we also did some laundry. We’re hoping to make it through the week without triple-wearing garments, but also not ruling anything out.
We think we worked out a pretty good packing configuration, but I’m sure it will evolve during the week.
We ended the night chatting with fellow competitors in the parking lot until it got too cold to be outside. There’s a lot of interest in the Volvo, and even more interest in the Unicorn Trailer! It seems like a lot of people tried to get this trailer, but were unable to. We better keep it locked to the Volvo hitch.
We were late to bed again. The theme persists.
The first event starts Saturday morning at Tire Rack at 830a. Wet skid pad. Then on to an autocross about an hour away. We’re ready!