Standing in the Tire Rack parking lot I found myself deflating from the events of the previous 11 days I had been gone from home. As I surveyed the empty parking lot where only 2 hours before the sound of screaming engines, screeching tires, and applauding crowds had echoed down Vorden Parkway and reverberated off of the Tire Racks building. The cooling tire marks on the skid pad were the One Lap’s equivalent of “The End” at the back of a favorite book. The adventure that had been the 2011 One Lap of America was now officially over.

Coming to the end of a One Lap is like stepping out of an alternate universe; A universe where, for the duration of the event, sensibilities and reason are put aside with adrenaline and instinct taking their place. During the One Lap sleep is something that comes in spurts rather than a predetermined time dictated by the setting of the sun, showers and clean clothes are just as valuable as gold, while beef jerky becomes an essential food group. A One Lappers sense of time and distance also alters; suddenly any trip that requires only one talk of gas is considered “around the corner.” Simply put, participating in the One Lap is a life changing experience.

It does not matter if you are a Lap Puppy testing the waters for the first time or a seasoned Lap Dog who has convinced your family that this really IS fun regardless of how you look when you return home, the One Lap is as much an addiction as it is a family. Often I have heard Lap Puppies say that they didn’t feel as though they were running alone because of all the help they received from fellow participants throughout the event, this is the fundamental truth of the One Lap and I will explain.

The One Lap is the great equalizer. When our slightly insane family gathers in South Bend there is always a nervous excitement of anticipation in the air. There is a sense of unity in facing the unknowns that the trip will certainly offer up. Until the final checkered flag drops, the bone stock 3 series which is someone’s daily driver is just as equal as the highly modified GTR that is capable of nearly 200 MPH and has more computing power than an Apple store. This is because the One Lap has a way of exposing any cars weaknesses and, once found, exploits them often to the point of destruction.

Running any vehicle for 8 days straight will take its toll on both car and driver. Factoring in the climate changes, the hard track miles, the road hazards during long transit drives, and the delirium the One Lap teams face, a whole other world of durability needed to finish.  No team, regardless of how much time or money spent in preparation can fathom all the One Lap can throw its way. While we all try to best one and other on the track we also, to the best of our abilities, make sure that we all reach the next stop. When a car falls to the clutches of the event we have a sense of sorrow for the team but are also happy to move up a slot or two in the overall standings.

The One Lap is more than competition. As the event winds its way around the country we become ambassadors for motorsport and responsible driving. A perfect example of this was seen immediately following the 2011 awards banquet.  As we rounded the corner heading away from the Tire Rack to the Quality Inn for some well-deserved rest we noticed an older gentleman pushing his truck up a busy overpass by himself. Without a second thought, mid-sentence, Brocker stopped the car and jumped out to assist. With traffic whizzing by he looked at us quizzically and a little surprised that 2 people, in One Lap attire and ROUSH apparel had appeared out of nowhere and were helping him. Reaching a gas station he turned to thank us and Brocker, not one for accepting platitudes easily because of his humble nature, just replied “The Tire Rack sent us.”

Returning to the car, very proud to be a part of the One Lap family, it dawned on me just how important our event is. While the event has undergone quite a transformation since its inception it remains the most honest, challenging, and unifying experience any automobile enthusiast could ask for. Without the One Lap and its predecessor car culture would not be the same it is today. For this I say; Thank you Brock Yates, Brock Jr, and all those who sponsor or work hard to make sure our event continues year after year. I cannot wait to see my family again next year.