FM3 Performance: A Tale of One Lap “Puppies”

The Tire Rack One Lap of America started early on Saturday morning, April 30, in Indiana. The event also finished up there one week later, on May 7th. In between, participants drove from one venue to another, competing at each for points. Well rounded performance was a key for all, as competitions included wet and dry skid pad results, time trials at several different road courses, bracket and drag racing.

Many of the runs between different stops were in the range of fourteen to eighteen hours, emphasizing endurance and reliability as well as competitive performance. So, prepping a car for an event like this is largely a matter of getting everything right. No misses and no excuses.

For FM3 Performance Marketing’s Jimi Day, the preparation for his first One Lap event began with his 2006 Chevrolet Z06 Corvette. With some substantial mods already in place, the car’s LS7 was quite healthy as it was, but some updating and tuning at West Bend Dyno bumped the joy to 578 RWHP and 572 RWTQ at 6800 RPM.

Looking at the competitive action they would be taking on during the event, a new twin disc clutch from Centerforce and suspension upgrades from Pfadt Engineering, including competition coilovers, sway bars and replacement bushings, were called for. All performed flawlessly throughout the event.

Stoptech brakes and a new Optima Redtop battery proved to be particularly inspired changes. With the new engine tuning and power, the need for reliable braking increased in lockstep, while the crew’s platoon of electronic support devices demanded peak electrical performance throughout the event. Nobody was disappointed.

With his teammate, Steve Kepler from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Day would take on the event, participating in 18 events and racking up 3,900 miles on the car in eight days. For their first time out, the “puppies” ended up 23rd overall out of 76 entered teams. If you’re wondering what it all looked like from the inside, there’s nothing better I can do than let Jimi tell you directly.

“As One Lap “puppies”, the term for rookies, we really didn’t know what to expect other than a lot of driving. What we experienced over the week was so much more! First and foremost, we made friends we’ll have for the rest of our life. The One Lap participants are some of the most generous car enthusiasts on the planet. They say there’s no support vehicles allowed on The One Lap, but we felt everyone there was our support! From giving sage advice on a certain track or route, to loaning tools and equipment, we were never alone. And our hats are off to Brock Yates, Jr. for making us feel at home and welcome – and being confident enough in our skills to include us in this elite group.”

“Secondly, both Steve and I are much better competitive drivers. When you spend that much time on a track in such a short period of time with some really good drivers, you can’t help but pick up a few things. If we had a question, there was always someone with an answer. If we were struggling with a really tricky section of track, someone was there to point out the fastest line through and why. We’ll never be professional race car drivers, but we’re a heck of a lot faster than we were!”

“Next – and I think we already knew this but just confirmed it – the Z06 Corvette is a phenomenal vehicle for this type of competition. It was a monster on the track and it was tame and manageable on the street. We went nearly 165 mph on the high banks of Daytona and we sat for hours in Chicago rush hour traffic with the A/C on listening to XM satellite radio! Not many vehicles can claim this kind of all-around performance.”

So, there’s little doubt that if you have an opportunity to participate in next year’s One Lap event, go for it. If not, look for something similar and if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, just go and do it. Jimi and Steve say you’ll have a great time.

About the author

Don Roy

Don's background includes 14 years in the OEM and Tier2 domestic auto industry, as well as three years as Technical Editor of a muscle car enthusiast print magazine. He is a mechanical engineer by trade and completed his first project car when he was 16 years old - after rebuilding the engine in his bedroom. His hobbies include photography, film making and building the odd robot from time to time.
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