May 12 - Michigan : GingerMan Raceway

At some point during the night, we had to turn the room HVAC off. The grinding noise was too overwhelming. We woke up at 630am hoping we hadn't caught too many diseases. Taylor was to do the driving for the day, so we all got ready and helped Taylor into the driving suit.

I was running low on clean clothes, but I still had some new t-shirts to crack open, thanks to Taylor.

10 points if you get the reference here. Hint: it's a Blue Origin shirt.

10 points if you get the reference here. Hint: it's a Blue Origin shirt.

The weather outside was looking perfect- a nice change from yesterday's gloomfest.

Packed up and headed to breakfast. Hotel equally terrifying in the day.

Packed up and headed to breakfast. Hotel equally terrifying in the day.

Breakfast was served in the lobby and it was buzzing with One Lappers. I enjoyed my 87th hotel-buffet-breakfast-waffle of the trip. Just as good as the first!

Ready to roll. Taylor was being dramatic; the weather was great.

Ready to roll. Taylor was being dramatic; the weather was great.

The track was a few miles down the road. Everyone was in high spirits as the end approached- we'd all made it to the last track event! We parked next to our amigos Chris and Mike Lin in the Honda-powered Toyota MR2. They'd had a really strong showing the previous day in the rain- 12th place in both the morning and afternoon! Well done, chaps.

Unpacking for the day.

Unpacking for the day.

Just some race cars.

Just some race cars.

With everything unpacked, we had some time to relax and enjoy the day before our first session. Dad was still pretty horribly sick at this point, so he sat down for a bit. We both arrived in Seattle sick, seemed to heal up a bit, then swapped sicknesses. Taylor caught one or both colds somewhere in there, so we were all 3 sick at this point. Nice.

I walked to the grid to watch the fast cars. It wasn't far away.

So sweet. The Porsche took first place in the morning rain session yesterday.

So sweet. The Porsche took first place in the morning rain session yesterday.

After some time, I walked back to the car + Dad + Taylor to help get ready for the first run.

Relaxing in the morning shade.

Relaxing in the morning shade.

Getting ready.

Getting ready.

Way back in Memphis, the Roadkill crew blew their engine. They'd spent the week getting their car put back together in hopes of making it back before the finish. We'd heard over social media that they planned to be back for Michigan and sure enough, they made it! Their production crew was out in force and they were glad to be back.

Welcome back, Roadkill!

Welcome back, Roadkill!

Dad was battling through his bubonic plague and helped Taylor get in the car. I was not particularly helping, but taking a bunch of photos and video.

Can you feel my help from here, pops?

Can you feel my help from here, pops?

I was running around with my video camera and Steadicam setup. I'm really terrible at using it, so I don't actually have much usable footage to show. I did manage to get the Contour action cam setup for the on-track stuff, so here's a video from that showing some footage of Taylor:

Taylor wasn't happy with the session. The hand controls weren't working well and he didn't know the track. He admitted to having a little fun, but mostly was just frustrated. The novelty had worn off and he wanted to get back to a competitive speed.

We brushed it off and focused ourselves on the next important task: lunch. Taylor and I chatted with Mike and Chris beneath the EZ-up while Dad went to stand in the lunch line. Chris told us about his experience at the GT Academy, a racing competition that qualifies through Playstation- it's incredibly competitive and difficult to get into, so clearly he's got mad talent! I tried to qualify in 2014, but never got anywhere close to the top 32 drivers. Maybe top 32,000...?

Taylor + Mike + Superchris

Taylor + Mike + Superchris

Dad taking one for the team, waiting in slow-moving lunch line.

Dad taking one for the team, waiting in slow-moving lunch line.

The lunch line seemed interminable, but Dad's hunger should never be challenged. He made it through and scored some delicious cheeseburgers. Actually, they were pretty exceptional- good smoky flavor and a solid char on the outside without being overcooked. I wished I'd ordered a double!

Nomz.

Nomz.

As the afternoon session kicked off, it started setting in for everyone that we were near the end. A melancholy nostalgia brewed in the pits.

Starting to get sad already.

Starting to get sad already.

Taylor and Dad watched along the front straight while I fumbled around with my steadicam and video setup some more. The weather was perfect and music played over stereos across the track.

As the groups went out, we started to prepare for the afternoon session. Taylor buckled in and moved the car to grid.

Last track session for the Volvo :(

Last track session for the Volvo :(

Bulldog LED Lighting ftw!

Bulldog LED Lighting ftw!

We got Taylor as situated as possible and wished him luck. He was off.

Yay Taylor!

Yay Taylor!

Taylor finished successfully, but he was angry upon return. Everything in the car had been fighting him- there are just too many things not designed properly. He knows what to fix going forward, but it didn't help with the current frustration.

However, it shouldn't be lost that we made it through all the track events! Great work Volvo, and great work team! I think maybe it was lost though. Taylor was pissed and Dad was on the precipice of death.

Well, I think we did well!

Well, I think we did well!

With the short track and efficient crew, the afternoon session finished pretty early. And, it was less than 75 miles back to the hotel- the Waterford Estates Lodge, back in South Bend. Brock, the One Lap Chief, decided to open the track up for competitors to run additional laps if they wished. Many lined up to participate.

We did not, for two reasons.

1. Dad was very ill at this point. We needed to get him to an urgent care or hospital. It was clear that he had a really bad sinus infection- his eye had turned completely red and the area around was swollen. He was downright miserable, so he needed attention.

2. Additional laps add a significant amount of wear to the tires. We were already concerned that we would barely make it back to Seattle with the present wear, so there was no interest in pushing farther.

With that non-starter decision, we packed up and started looking for urgent care facilities near our destination hotel. 

Tom's view.

Tom's view.

For their own reasons, mainly fatigue, other competitors hit the road as well- some in search of beer. We agreed this was a good plan and would try to meet up with them after we prevented Dad's death.

With less than a two hour drive, we didn't even have time to open our drinks!

On the road and happy for a short drive to refreshments.

On the road and happy for a short drive to refreshments.

We found a CVS near the hotel and headed that direction. At this point, one of the angels in our support network mentioned they had an unused Z-pak refill with CVS from a recent sickness; we were welcome to use it so we could skip the doctor visit to get antibiotics.

Hallelujah! Dad was saved!

We called the prescription in to the CVS in Indiana where it would be waiting for us when we arrived. Miracle of miracles, it worked out and we had Dad on an antibiotics course in less time than a normal gas stop.

For liability reasons, said angel will remain nameless, but you know who you are - THANK YOU!!!

We would have to reassess later in the night and in the morning- if Dad wasn't better, we'd be headed to the hospital. But this was an excellent start!

A little extra pep in his death march after picking up the Z-pak!

A little extra pep in his death march after picking up the Z-pak!

Happy to have this problem solved for the moment, we cruised in to the hotel to find some of our friends out front. It was barely 4pm!

Happy to be back.

Happy to be back.

Now, we'd been hearing all week about Howard, driving a Corvette Z06, and his maple syrup shots.

No kidding.

He's from upstate New York and harvests and bottles his own maple syrup each year- about 20 gallons worth. Each year he brings some down to share with One Lappers- I think this was his 25th year of participating in One Lap. Maybe 35th? He's a salty old Lap Dog, that's for sure.

Howard, maple syrup dealer.

Howard, maple syrup dealer.

He serves the shots in small plastic shot glasses. At some point in years past, they lamented the syrup that was wasted by remaining stuck to the glass after the shot. 

There must be a solution.

Of course- a bourbon chaser! After the syrup shot, one swishes a shot of bourbon, Buffalo Trace in this instance, to get the last bits of the syrup- then down the hatch!

It sounds odd, and maybe it is, but it was wildly delicious!

It sounds odd, and maybe it is, but it was wildly delicious!

Aunt Jemimah's High Fructose Blend, this is not. The syrup has great flavor and isn't overly sweet and clingy- great stuff! I wanted a bottle (of syrup) for myself!

"Howard, where do you sell this stuff, I'd love to buy a bottle to enjoy and support the venture!"

"Oh! I don't sell it- I do it for fun, then give bottles as gifts to friends!"

--Howard turns to talk to someone else--

Well, okay, I see. I guess I need to work harder in the future to make the friends list I guess? No syrup for us this trip.

No matter, he gave us ice cold beer following the shots, I certainly wasn't complaining. In fact, even teetotaling Dad was old-man-peer-pressured into a shot of both syrup and bourbon! It was a good group that had gathered- stories were being told and everyone was happy to be there.

It was a bonafide celebration, even though technically we still had one more event the next day: a repeat of the skidpad event, though, in the dry. A couple 30-40mph circles. So the event felt mostly complete at this point.

Hanging out, drinking beer, doing syrup shots. As one does.

Hanging out, drinking beer, doing syrup shots. As one does.

An early finish photo.

An early finish photo.

Competitors continued to trickle in and join us as the afternoon progressed.

This GT-R was one launch control mess-up away from winning the whole thing.

This GT-R was one launch control mess-up away from winning the whole thing.

The white GT-R's exhaust. Rocket nozzle?

The white GT-R's exhaust. Rocket nozzle?

It started to get mildly rowdy as some chose to do burnouts in front of the hotel.

A super sad one-wheel burnout from the Roushcharged Nitemare Truck. Seriously, their name, not mine.

A super sad one-wheel burnout from the Roushcharged Nitemare Truck. Seriously, their name, not mine.

A much more productive burnout. Not from the truck.

A much more productive burnout. Not from the truck.

After a bit, we went back to the room to change, then headed to the bar to meet up with MR2 Mike + Chris Lin. Amazingly, I didn't take many photos of our bar time. The one photo does confirm that we ate food, though.

Hang in there bro.

Hang in there bro.

While we were in the bar, the Griswold's in the Ford Station Wagon, car #1, bought us a round of Yuengling beer- a northeast brew. They loved the Volvo and were super cool all week. Cheers!

Despite our fervor to party, everyone was exhausted, so we finished up relatively early and made our way to bed.

Last day tomorrow :(