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You'll see a lot of strange things during One Lap... right Christo?

 

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3/05/06 - Eric wrote: Here are links to the Boston Bimmer articles that we wrote:

  • May 2005 - Christo's write-up of our prep
  • July 2005 - Eric's write-up of the event (ignore the credits - those are Christo's photos)

I've begun to put up our photos from the 2005 One Lap experience.  You can find them on Flickr.com.

8/14/05 - Eric wrote: The August 2005 issue of Roundel, the national BMW Car Club magazine, just came out and Christo's write-up of our OLA odyssey is in a collection of BMW entries' write-ups.  Poor Christo - he does all that writing on the article, and then I'm in all the pictures that accompany the article.  The other write-ups are pretty good, too, and serve as a great reminder of all the things that made OLA special for us.  I'm currently working on creating a picture collection that I hope to have posted and linked to this site, as well as a write-up of my own that proved far too lengthy for any magazine to publish, but which I felt captured everything that happened during the trip.   As soon as my busy summer starts to cool down, I'm hoping I'll get more time to pursue these items.

5/15/05 - Christo wrote: The week of my first One Lap was one of the most memorable in my life. Pulling into my driveway at 5:40 AM on Sunday morning after a gruesome 13 hour-drive from Indiana to Massachusetts, it seemed that I had been gone for months. We put on 6,200 miles on the odometer. We ended 43rd out of 93 cars overall and 7th out of 18 cars in our Mid-priced Sedan class. We beat some serious machines piloted by experienced drivers. No mechanical failures (OK, one taillight bulb did burn out but was promptly replaced with the spare that had been provided by Capital Cities Imported Cars). No speeding tickets. No offs or spinouts. We drove on great new tracks. We raised our driving skills to a higher level. We met some great people. We came home with a lifetime of memories. One Lap is addictive. It will make you want to do it over and over again!!

5/9/05 - Eric wrote: Whew! It took us a day to recover from the drive back.  Let's start at the last event of the competition, though: the dry skidpad event at the Tire Rack.

We were not happy with our wet skid pad results from Day One, so we were determined to do much better on the dry skid pad.  How do you get better? You practice.  But the skid pad was closed down at the Tire Rack, so we took the next best thing: an empty parking lot at a warehouse next door.  We did about 10 minutes of squealing tires before deciding the house across the street was probably dialing the cops by then, so we headed back to the motel.  As it was, I still made some small mistakes on the skid pad, most notably not keeping the car as close to the inner radius as I should have, but we pulled off a .865 g on the event, which was only good for 68th place.  Not great, but that's about the figure the car was rated for during magazine reviews.

After the dry skid pad, we said our goodbyes to our new friends in their BMWs - Tom and Steve in the RimPro E46 M3, Ned and Chuck in the Baron E36 M3, Sasha and Phil in their E36 M3.  We then proceeded to rip off a flat-out run for home, pairing up with the RimPro M3.  Leaving South Bend around 5pm, I got home to Albany at 3:30am, Sunday morning.  Christo made it safely home to Boston in 2 hours. 

Sleep, precious sleep.

5/6/05, 2:02 pm - Eric wrote: We're now on our way back to South Bend, and feel great for having survived and to finish this 8 day marathon.

We had an ok day at Nelson Ledges, but we couldn't duplicate the successes we had from yesterday. The HP disadvantage showed today, and combined with our lack of sleep, led us to a 50th place showing in the morning. 4 hrs of sleep just wasn't enough for us, and slow reactions were the result. Christo took 2 seconds a lap off his morning times for a total of 6 seconds faster, but we're not sure where that will put us.

I'm looking forard to avenging my skid pad results from last Friday with a better showing Saturday. Saturday is also picture day for Car & Driver and Roundel. We'll be sad to see it end, but glad to see our families and our own beds for more than 4 hours a night.

See you in South Bend

5/6/05, 8:38 am - Eric wrote: Roebling Road was awesome for us! The rain took away a lot of the HP advantage that most cars had on us, and Christo struck with a vengeance. We did not receive a penalty for his extra lap mistake, and he placed 16th for the afternoon session - phenomenal! It made the miserable conditions worth it.

We packed up and headed for Nelson Ledges in Ohio - a journey of 740 miles. We ran into a 10 mile traffic jam near Charlotte and took various alternate routes to get around it. After a very l-o-n-g day, we pulled into the motel at 2AM. We're now just a mile from Nelson Ledges and hoping to hold our own on “the fastest track in the country”.

5/5/05, 11:48 am - Eric wrote: Welcome to soaking wet, but slightly warmer, Roebling Road in Bloomingdale, GA. We got in late because of several lost moments, but still managed nearly 5 1/2 hrs of sleep.

It has been pouring rain here all morning, making for 2 wet BFSers, but putting Christo in an excellent position to do well. The higher powered vehicles have a real tough job of putting down power smoothly, and Christo took full advantage, finishing 20th for the morning run. We're ecstatic! It certainly makes up for the weather.

5/4/05, 5:49 pm - Eric wrote: Virginia International Raceway is beautiful! What a racing venue. It is truly a world class facility with some awesome course layouts. Christo drove the wheels off the car on 3 different events, running the north course and south course in the morning, and then the full course in the afternoon. Once again he held his own against some very powerful cars. His times on the full course were within 4 seconds of Spec Miata times - a great achievement. One of the wonderful sounding but over tuned Acura NSXs was towed off the course. We did not see the TurboXS STi from yesterday's off-course excursion at Summit Pt, so they may be having difficulties fixing the damage.

We're running 45th overall before this afternoon's full course event. We're now in NC and headed for a stop in SC before heading back up to GA for the night and Roebling Road's great sweepers in the morning. Miles to drive before we sleep...

5/3/05, 9:53 pm - Eric wrote: Leaving Summit Pt, we made 2 observations: the Infiniti G35 that's just ahead of us is cleverly disguised as a yellow Evo, and the black TurboXS was still up on jackstands with all its wheels off, and one bent at that. Not sure if we'll see them again or not.

We arrived at the tiny but VERY friendly Mason Dixon Dragway around 5pm. It was pretty frantic getting ready for the racing, meeting with family, making the driver's meeting, etc. I drove from Summit Pt to Mason Dixon, so as to practice my drag launches at every opportunity. I was fairly confident, and so we went in with a hope and a prayer.

The ET run went fairly good, with an ET of 15.6xx. For the bracket drags, we decided to go with a dial-in of 15.50. As it happened, I lined up next to some monster known as a Superformance Coupe. Think Shelby Daytona Coupe. His dial-in was 11.9x. I ran a very consistent run, getting a time of 15.545, which I thought was excellent, but the Superformance nipped me within 4 car lengths of the finish line with a 12.xx. Apparently the first over wins, so our near perfect dial-in time didn't count for much. At the 1/4 mile I had the car in 3rd, 7000 rpm, and a speed of 92 mph. At least we got to visit with my sister and her family.

On to VIR!

5/3/05, 1:54 pm - Eric wrote: Howdy from sunny but cold Summit Pt, West Virginia. Christo is feeling very good about his morning run. The course seemed to favor BMW's and other smaller, good handling cars. We checked the results from this morning and he was 43rd - pretty good considering the competition. “The car was very good” according to Christo.

We are currently in a delay, with the TurboXS black STi having just gone off the course on the carousel portion of the afternoon session. The driver is ok, but the car went up on 2 wheels and went hard into a tire wall. They're in the process of towing it back to the pits.

We look forward to the drags tonight and seeing Eric's sister and her family. Talk to you again after Mason Dixon

5/2/05, 4:07 pm - Eric wrote: Today was an excellent day - we got a good night's sleep (5 hours) at Eric's, rolled into NHIS on time, and were met by friends and family. Christo's son Jason was very excited to see him, and he got to help daddy get prepared for his races.

NHIS is Christo's home track, so he's very comfortable here. He ran at least 1 or 2 seconds faster than the last event he did NHIS 3 weeks ago. We were also blessed with the “service engine soon” light that had been on since Day 1 finally clearing - so it was probably just a loose gas cap. We had also noticed that fluid was dripping from the rear differential. A quick trip up on the jack stands revealed a loose bolt on the differential that was easily tightened. Thanks to Jake S. and the gentleman from the Mini Mania team, who happens to be a BMW technician, for their help. Other teams have not been so lucky, and the number of casualties has grown.

We're on our way now to West Virginia. See you tomorrow.

5/1/05, 8:31 pm - Eric wrote: Christo's 2nd run at IRP yesterday was pretty good - we placed 42nd and Christo shaved off 9 seconds from the 1st run, and could have shaved off more, but not safely.

Today's BeaveRun events were exciting because Christo's run group consisted of 2 Vipers, an E46 M3, and a C6 Corvette. Christo's times were competitive with those vehicles and drivers. Christo placed 45th in the morning run and then shaved off 3 seconds in the 2nd run, but in damp and strong gusts conditions.

We are now leaving Lancaster Motorsports Park. This is a small oval track, much like Martinsville for you NASCAR fans. Christo decided to play it safe with his first oval track adventure - “this is a marathon” is a quote he likes to use. The track was very bumpy, and Christo was concerned in the curves. He concentrated on exit speeds - and a small, cold, but appreciative crowd watched.

We'll see our friends & family at NHIS tomorrow morning.

5/1/05, 11:32 am - Eric wrote: We had a long drive from Indy last night. We left at 7 Indy time, lost an hour in the transit, and got into the hotel just before 2am EDT. Wake up call was at 6:45, and Christo was scootering around the track by 8:15. Its cold here and it sucks the strength out of you. Christo had a good first run and we're looking for food now. We're hearing it could snow in Buffalo. Can't wait for Georgia weather!

Thanks to Enis K. for coming out and visiting with us at BeaveRun.

4/30/05, 8:55 pm - Eric wrote: Christo's done fairly well on his first run of the day at Indianapolis Raceway Park - placing 47th and 1 spot behind the RimPro.com guys' M3. Christo's 2nd run was also strong [9 seconds faster than his first run] - “better” according to Christo - but we had to get started for PA before finding out the results [42nd, 4 spots ahead of the M3].

Turns out the BFS supporter this morning was Lisa - she was great to have supporting us.

Indy has been chilly today - thank goodness for heated seats. We look forward to getting to rest up in Beaver Falls tonight.

4/30/05, 1:28 pm - Eric wrote: The wet skidpad event was fun, but the result was disappointing. We're guessing that I didn't push as hard as I could, but the car also had a fuel starvation issue crop up during my clockwise laps. It hit right as I was getting to the 3/4 point on the 2nd lap. It didn't help, but it probably wasn't the sole cause of our finish.

A shout out to the nice BFS mom who took our picture while we were in the staging line. She didn't give her name, but she was friendly.

We're now headed down to Indy for Christo's debut on the track. I'm confident he'll wring all he can out of his 325i.

4/29/05, 9:57 pm - Eric wrote: We received advice from Lap Dogs last night to not get up early for registration and instead get some rest. We got up late and headed over for breakfast, but panicked a little when we noticed almost all the other cars were gone. We ate quickly, chatted briefly with an OLA couple from Austin, TX, and then ran the car down to a car wash. Followed an NSX-R out of the hotel, who decided to blow a little carbon out of his engine. When we caught up to him at the carwash, Christo told him the car must be well tuned - the flames were very even out of both pipes of his dual exhaust. We also caught up with Lap Dogs Matt and Pete, running a fairly stock 328i. We washed the car and headed for the Tire Rack.

At the Tire Rack we went to our assigned pit (2 parking spaces) and got to work putting the sponsor's graphics on the car. Lesson One - put the sponsor graphics on before getting to OLA! We spent from 10:30 to 5pm squeegeeing vinyl on while most everyone else wandered the pits and visited. Brock himself stopped by and chatted with us, confiding to us that the BMWs are a very strong faction in OLA and he's a fan. Brock was pleasant and charming - a nice guy!

I received a nice surprise when Brian Bailey from my Patroon CCA chapter walked up to us. He had been driving by, saw the Tire Rack, and decided to stop by. He was surprised to find the OLA meet in full swing, and was further surprised when I identified myself as a fellow Patroon member. Small world. Tom M from RimPro is making a documentary on this year's event and was very good in asking me to speak on camera about Books For Soldiers. Tom said he received many emails thanking him for supporting us. Thank you BFS'ers!!!

We were just finishing the graphics when the driver's meeting started. Brock Yates opened it by welcoming us to the event and thanking the Tire Rack and other sponsors. We then heard from a rep of the SVRA (sanctioning body) who assured us it was better to tell them we hit a track wall than to have them hunt us down to tell us they found out. Brock Jr then came up to tell us all the importance of behaving well on the public roads and to make sure we understood that the dragstrip is only a 1/4 mile and not any longer. A VA state trooper, who's running with One Lap, came up and talked about being extra careful in the police state of Virginia. He told of the fine facilities you would be shown if you exceeded the speed limits by 20mph or ran over 80mph, whichever was lower. Christo packed up the car and we then headed out with the RimPro.com guys for a sit-down meal. Speaking of them, Steve O is blogging this event for the Boston Globe. You can read their takes on things, and references to us, on Boston.com (in the “Cars” section - look for the One Lap logo). We're now pouring thru our emails and the OLA route book to prepare for our beginning event tomorrow morning. There's so much to do it's almost overwhelming, and we just prioritize as best we can. We're hoping to sneak over to the welcome reception to make sure we aren't missing something grand.

Tomorrow we have the wet skidpad in the morning, the road course at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the afternoon, and then the drive to the hotel outside Pittsburgh for BeaveRun. We'll fill you in on all that tomorrow. Look for our standings on the OLA web site.

4/29/05, 8:01 pm - Eric wrote: Well, it appears no one knew what they were talking about - we're an hour behind here in IN.

We took a quick tour of the parking lot last night to see the exotics that are scattered about. A nice collection, including some Porsches, an NSX-R, a Viper, an Ultima GTR, and a Radical. We then hung out with the other OLA arrivees and traded stories of the trip. The Lap Dogs held court and told tales of yore. The one that struck fear in my heart was from the drag racing in last year's event. An AMG was doing the drags and unfortunately didn't realize the 1/4 mile had been passed. The driver didn't let up and kept on the gas. He didn't realize what was happening until he hit the pea gravel, ran through the nets, ran through the wood fence, and ended up in small trees and brush. Not the way you want to make an impression at One Lap.

4/28/05, 7:21 pm - Eric wrote: We've made good progress on the way to South Bend so far. We've hooked up with the M3 from RimPro.com and a Porsche 911 turbo from Arlington, MA. Those vehicles can move!

Speakin' of “vee-hickles”, the CB radio has proven very entertaining. Just outside of Albany we were identified by an unknown trucker as 'life partners in an ultimate driving machine', but in a little less friendlier tone than that. It's been an education for Christo as he becomes steeped in the dialect of the South. I translated for him, having grown up in the South of the Northeast - NE Pennsylvania.

We passed an 1100 lb Radical being trailered to One Lap - it looked like a Formula 1 car with a license plate.

We're outside of Cleveland and are “gassed up” on beef jerky and cheese. Christo can't believe it took him 15 years to discover the joys of beef jerky, and now he's hell bent on making up for lost time.

Onward to South Bend!

4/28/05 - Eric wrote: 10:50 am, just sitting around waiting for Christo to pick me up.  He's reported that the RimPro.com M3 has already received a visit on the Mass Turnpike from a curious Mass state trooper.  I knew that crazy graphics package they put on it would turn it into a cop magnet.  That's why we're waiting to put on our sponsor stickers until we get to Indiana. Christo says his 325i is packed to the gills already, so it'll be interesting trying to put my stuff in - personal stuff, along with the fire extinguisher and 2.5gal gas can (full).

4/28/05 - Christo wrote: It's close to midnight. We are heading out from Boston to South Bend (just short of 1,000 miles) in the AM. My 3-year old son Jason likes to help me prepare lunch for work every evening. Tonight  he helped me prepare lunch for One Lap. My wife told him "We are going  to go see daddy at the autocross on Monday" referring to our event at NHIS. He said "No, mommy, we're gonna go see daddy at One Lap!" He's got his ABsolute Puppies t-shirt ready.

I am halfway through packing. I thought the packing list that I had been putting together for weeks would have made it easy but no such luck. The sheer number of items that I am bringing is overwhelming. Hopefully our car won't be like a hot air balloon where we'd have to get rid of bags of weight periodically to keep going :o) Eric, you won't need ALL of your bags, right? (Um - I'm already down to 2 pairs of underwear and 1 sock, so I was hoping we could ditch your bag - Eric.)

Hopefully we'll have a good trip tomorrow and we'll check in with an update tomorrow night from South Bend, Indiana.

4/28/05 - Eric wrote:  Same story as Christo - it seemed like enough preparation last week, but tonight I feel like I'm totally disorganized.  We did get good news today - BFS has put us up on their home page, and a reporter for the local paper contacted me today and asked about interviewing us.  Hopefully he'll be able to find a story in this story of good hearts overcoming chaos while goofing off at the motorsport venues of the eastern US.  A shout out to Jake for taking over the Journal page while we're on the road - his help is much appreciated!

4/26/05 - Eric wrote: These last few days have been SO HECTIC.  It seemed like we had nothing left to do but some minor packing, but now faced with the realities of leaving shortly, we're discovering a dozen things that need to be done now.  It's a wonder poor Christo is functioning - he's had to do so much running around with his car, getting last minute adjustments, parts checked, etc.  Our sponsors continue to amaze us with more help than we ever imagined or expected.  The guys at RimPro.com and Autobahn Automotive have been great. 

4/25/05 - Christo wrote: I put in the new front Ferodo DS3000 race pads last night. Their braking power is formidable - you can almost feel them pulling the skin off your cheeks. I don't have to fight the brake pedal to reach the tires' limit under braking any more. They remind me a lot of the PF90 pads that I used to have except the Ferodos don't rattle. I can't say they squeak more than street/track combo pads. Cold bite is a bit weak but not too bad considering they are designed to operate in a much higher temperature range. I am very happy with them!! The vibration under braking is completely gone now that the old front pads have been removed. Luckily, the rotors are fine!

I also washed and waxed the car, cleaned it a bit inside, even pulled a couple of small dings that I constantly get in parking lots and did some touch-up this weekend. The new tires should be here today and are going on the car tomorrow morning. Tonight I will burn a CD with all track videos, maps, and "hot laps" for Tom at RimPro and his co-driver Steve O. - that is the least that I can do for these guys who have been terrific to work with.

4/25/05 - Eric wrote: Time is getting short, and Christo and I are getting a bit nervous, trying to make sure all the loose ends are tied up neatly for a trouble-free One Lap event.  I spent the entire weekend cranking thru Yahoo! Maps to document each leg of our journey.  I believe we're all set there.  Did some last minute bargain hunting for MiniDV tapes to be used with a borrowed camcorder generously lent to us by Jake S. of Boston CCA.

4/22/05 - Christo wrote: I had the UUC tranny mounts installed today. Chip at our sponsor, Autobahn East, was gracious enough to fit this into his busy schedule and refused to take money for it.  I love watching these guys work each time - they are very methodical and precise. Great job again!  Driving the car back from the shop, I noticed added vibration and noise from the mounts, as expected. Once the bushings settled, the vibration was almost entirely gone (maybe a net of 10% vibration increase or so) but the noise is still there.  It sounds a lot like I just put in an exhaust and essentially magnifies the engine sound through the cabin. Overall feel is a lot more race car-like, although not uncomfortable. Most importantly, the UUC mounts cured two huge problems:

1.) the transmission does not move around any more and the shifts are nice and crisp, especially the shift to second. It is actually so easy that I almost downshifted into 7,000 RPMs - oops - good thing I caught it in time.

2.) As an added bonus, the rubbing that I had going through the gate when shifting to fifth is almost entirely gone. You  don't have to pause at the gate for a second before you slip the shifter through the gate any more. It goes to show that there definitely was a problem with the tranny moving around.

One look at the old tranny bushings and you'll know why: they were so soft, you can practically squeeze them with your hand. The tranny moving is not an issue you'd notice while hauling groceries back from the store, but out at the track,  you'll know it. Overall, I feel even more connected to the road, which should translate into better lap times. It's all about feel. While in the shop, Chip looked over the ball joints, lower control arms and other key suspension components for damage from NHIS. Everything looks good. There is no damage to the rim either. Swapping the tires front to rear took care of the pull to the left, so it's probably the tire. Not too bad, it will make a good spare.

Tom at RimPro offered to mount all the new tires that we ordered for One Lap and will check the rim to make sure that it's straight and true. What a great guy! We are making plans to travel together to South Bend. His car will have really cool graphics, so we figure we'll be practically invisible within range of a mile of them.

4/20/05 - Eric wrote: The best laid plans of mice and men... ok, forget about the mice, and concentrate on the men of ABsolute Puppies.  Christo and I had a "shake off the winter rust" weekend planned out for this past weekend, with Eric attending the White Mountain BMWCCA chapter's Advanced Driver's Skills School to practice skid pad moves and to simply get some seat time in the 325i, and Christo attending the next day's Drivers School in order to get some track laps in before OLA.

I found the session very worthwhile, and the 325i proved to be a fairly well-behaved car on the skid pad.  It was very easy to determine when you were approaching the limits - and I never pushed the tail end out unexpectedly, but I did a lot on purpose.  Add in the 2hrs of driving up and back to the school, and I got very comfortable in the car.

Christo's adventures went less smoothly.  He ended up either hitting a pot hole or some curbing while lapping, and put a cut into the rim guard portion of one of the OLA tires.  The car also picked up a tendency to pull left.  Christo noticed that the car picked up a vibration when braking, which Race Shopper has attributed to Christo's unfettered use of the brake pedal during 25min lapping sessions, perhaps leaving some uneven pad deposits on the rotor.  Piling up on top of all that, Christo experienced some problems downshifting from 3rd to 2nd in corners, with the tranny simply locking him out of 2nd gear.  This caused all sorts of problems,  from prolonged braking to slower lap times.  Diagnosis by Christo using the Internet has suggested that the car is in need of some tranny mounts to prevent the transmission from migrating too much so that it deflects shifting attempts. 

So some furious activity within a bank account has dredged up some DS3000 pads to better handle the track abuse Christo is sure to heap upon the brakes.  Tom M of RimPro.com is going to check the shape of the OZ wheel to make sure it doesn't need to be straightened.  Christo ordered 3 more PS2 OLA tires from Tire Rack, and Tom M has offered to mount them up for us.  This guy is proving to be an excellent sponsor!  We're also going back to the well with Autobahn Automotive and having them install the tranny mounts and check the suspension and alignment.  Hopefully the news will be good.  We're hoping that the pull is simply a damaged tire.

Speaking of sponsors, ABsolute Puppies Racing is proud to announce the addition of Design Engineering (DEI), makers of Cry02 products.  They have offered us a ton of heat reduction products from their catalog.  We'll be using some of their products on the 325i, and what we can't fit on there I'm putting on my Evo - turbos tend to generate situations that DEI's heat dissipation products were made for.  Thanks to DEI for the products!

4/19/05 - Christo wrote: Well, it's been really busy in the past few days. Eric took the car to an advanced driving school and practiced his skidpad skills. He managed to starve the car for fuel with 1/4 tank on a first try - something to be proud of as it's never happened to me in all the hard driving that I've done including driving the Glen at 10/10ths with less than a gallon left in the tank. Good work, Eric - we'll be better prepared for the event that way.

I took the car to NHIS for a driving school with BMWCCA's White Mountain Chapter on 4/18. I had a blast - plenty of seat time and not a single off course by anyone all day! Yeah, I went to NHIS thinking I'll take it easy only to come out with the need for new front brake pads, new tires, probably a damaged rim, and new tranny mounts (long story). Nearly a Thousand-dollar One Lap shakedown – I can only imagine what the event will cost us. 3 new One Lap tires are on the way, a new tranny mount, more aggressive Ferodo DS3000 pads and a stop at Autobahn East to check the suspension for damage and give the car a final inspection. The only way I know to drive is at 10/10ths.  Experienced BMW Club Racer Dave Spragg was nice enough to sit in my car for one 25-minute session and thought I did pretty good for someone who's constantly fighting to keep the car on the pavement.
J   Needless to say I need to work on being smooth and stop overdriving the car. He drove it for a few laps and I think I learned more watching him drive so smoothly than all my seat time combined for that day.

Yep, we may crash and burn at One Lap but we'll definitely leave a mark. Hopefully it won't be like the "really big skid mark" type.

4/13/05 - Eric wrote: Christo has been busy fulfilling media requests and has written 2 articles so far for various outlets.  Christo's latest effort is now appearing on the BimmerFest.com web site.  In addition to that article, Christo also put together a write-up for Club Motorsport's web site, too.  We're hoping we have happy endings to submit on top of those when all is said and done!

4/11/05 - Eric wrote: I'm proud to announce the addition of our latest sponsor - RimPro.com.  I had recently put on summer wheels purchased off of eBay, and unfortunately, unseen to the naked eye, one of the wheels was  apparently bent in an accident.  I contacted RimPro and came to find out that the owner is entering One Lap as well!  The end result is I'm getting a free wheel straightening in the deal, which I'm thrilled with.  Thanks to Tom M. at RimPro, and see you at One Lap!

4/11/05 - Christo wrote: I just faxed in the last remaining paperwork and we are now official. I also put in the Ferodo DS2500 pads, replaced the rear rotors, cleaned and oiled the cone air filter this weekend, so the car is totally ready too. I am reading about other participants doing engine swaps just days before the event. I heard from Brock that there are 5-6 teams that are waiting till the last possible day before the event to see if their cars will be ready. I am reading about another One Lapper who just realized he couldn't fit his 335 mm wide One Lap-branded tires and is looking to sell them at a steep discount with zero miles on them. In the meantime, I am driving our final One Lap configuration during my daily commute to work. A couple of the ramps that I hit every day have my name on them, especially a downhill off-camber one which seems to be my favorite. Eric would rather me tip-toe around town to preserve the tires for the wet skid pad on Day 1 (I just asked if you could run them wrapped in duct tape on the treads until OLA - Eric).

I have had 3 sets of performance tires on my car before the One Lap Michelin PS2 and I have to admit that the PS2's are in a class of their own. They have phenomenal grip, the tail doesn't jump out any more under heavy acceleration out of corners and they even talk to me when they get close to the limit. On top of that, they give the car a nice, comfy, luxurious ride even with the 40-profile tires. No tram lining or road noise whatsoever.

I had mixed feelings about the Ferodo DS2500 pads at first but I like them more by the day. Even after the bed-in procedures, the brake pedal felt a bit spongy (probably out-gassing) but it has been improving. Just yesterday, I was going about 55-60 mph on a desolate back road as I was approaching one of my favorite turns. I thought I'd brake at the last possible second and I'd be ready to continue straight if the car is not slowed down enough for a turn-in. So I braked late and hard and I thought for sure that I was going to miss the turn. Amazingly, I had almost come to a complete stop 10 ft or so before the turn. Awesome stopping power! The pads are also quiet on the street and have only minimal squeal under light braking. So far, I think they have better stopping power than the Hawk HP Plus, which is my best reference point, the only drawback being that I'd like a slightly firmer brake pedal and a bit more feel for modulating. For One Lap, though, I'll take braking power over modulation if I had to choose.

The One Lap field is still growing. There are 95 entries as of today; 13 in our Mid-Priced sedan class alone. I think this will be the largest field since 2001 or so. This is one more reason why we have to do really well at the first timed event at Indianapolis Raceway Park where the (re)seeding for the rest of the event will happen. The higher you place, the earlier you run at the remaining events. The earlier you run, the sooner you leave for the next transit leg. All of this equates to more sleep, which in itself is a huge contributor to fast lap times. It is also clear by now that our car will probably be in the bottom 5 in terms of raw horsepower, with its power-to- weight ratio likely at the very bottom. I think more than a few people will be surprised that you can do reasonably well in an event of that caliber with a well-balanced car that has perfect weight distribution, neutral handling, good stopping power and has been thoroughly tested. Key thing is, the 325i is predictable and easy to drive at the limit. That, my friends, is how good BMWs are even when they are mostly stock!!

4/7/05 - Christo wrote: 3 weeks remaining till we leave for South Bend, IN.  I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.  10 days, 5,500 miles, 20 competitive events, a lifetime of memories.  The great thing about it is we are practically ready (I guess it's one of the advantages of running a fairly stock car).  All that remains to be done to the car is throw the Ferodo DS2500 pads on and change the rear rotors.  We have all the parts and spares that we need.  Hotel reservations have been made. Sponsors have been finalized.  Heck, we even got our ABsolute Puppies t-shirts!  We need to fax some final paperwork to the organizers, make a list of contacts, print out travel directions and maps, pack and go.  No, we are not going to change our mind and decide to swap the 2.5-ltr engine with an M3's the night before we leave.  Eric is taking the car to NHIS for some sliding around (So you ARE familiar with my driving skills! - Eric) and I am taking it to the track for a final shakedown 10 days before we leave for the event.  I'll just have to figure out how to fall asleep faster at night instead of watching track videos in my head.  It's a bit confusing and downright scary falling asleep on the straight at IRP and then waking up going full throttle through the Snake at VIR...

4/1/05 - Christo wrote: Well, brothers-in-arms -  I thought I'd drop a quick note to say good-bye. It's been great driving my 2001 325i for 4 years and sharing my One Lap enthusiasm with you here but it's time to move on and make room for a larger vehicle that can accommodate our growing (in numbers and width) family. I just traded in my beloved 325i for a new shiny minivan. I didn't think I'd be able to get over it at first but driving the minivan on the way home last night, I really got to appreciate its utility and comfort. It's spacious (has room for 8 and cargo to fit our whole house in it!), very quiet and fuel efficient. It also feels gratifying to drive a socially responsible vehicle that serves a great purpose rather than the juvenile "ultimate driving experience" race-car-but-oh-so-comfortable 3-series. Honk when you see a dad with big glasses behind the wheel and a mom holding a soccer ball in her arms next to our 3-year old who will be watching a Disney movie on our newest entertainment system.

I'm sorry, Brock - I hope you'll understand. So long!

Christo

p.s. My wife also traded in her A4. She got a more sensible Toyota Prius. We appreciate the perfectly quite ride, road isolation, the 80 mpg fuel economy, and most of all: the socially responsible message that it sends out!!

Happy Fools' Day!!

3/31/05 - Eric wrote: Less than 1 month to go and our excitement is building for One Lap!  We've been trading emails with some fellow Bimmer guys out of Kansas City who are running One Lap in a '98 M3. Everyone's agreed that it's getting more and more difficult to concentrate at work - for example, I find myself sitting and going thru the staging process for the bracket drags over and over in my mind, but then the EMT who rides with me nudges me and I pull the ambulance back onto the road and continue on to the emergency call (just kidding).

3/16/05 - Eric wrote: What a crazy but great day.  Christo was very busy contacting potential sponsors and getting some deals negotiated.  The guy is very good - he pulled in 2 more very good sponsors.  First up was OG Racing, from Sterling, VA.  I've dealt with these guys before, when I was having MAJOR problems tracking down the parts needed to mount a Sparco Torino seat in my old Honda Accord autocrosser. OG set me up with the parts I needed, at competitive prices, and were able to deliver them immediately when other vendors were claiming it would take months to get the parts in.  When I broke a handle on the seat - OG Racing checked and found they had a spare one and sent it to me for free.  They were stand-up in all regards as a company, so I figured they'd be a good vendor to represent.  OG has agreed to donate a drivers suit and brake fluid for our One Lap effort.  Thanks, OG!

Next up was the need to stock up on some spare parts we felt would be needed - spare headlight bulb, tail light bulb, various bolts, fasteners, new wiper blades. Capital Cities Imported Cars of Glenmont, NY,  has agreed to provide those items to us.  Christo had his BMW serviced there while working in the Albany area the last 3 years, and I purchased my wife's VW Passat wagon from them, too.  We appreciate the gesture Capital Cities has made!

3/14/05 - Christo wrote: Autobahn Automotivelocated in Natick, MA has long been considered one of the best BMW Independents in the Boston area and Central Massachusetts. They are one of the few alignment shops that truly know how to set up cars for the track and they are especially well known for their alignment precision. I contacted them today with a request for help with our car setup and they were very enthusiastic about helping us with the car alignment and geometry setup. I will be bringing the car in on Saturday and I am really looking forward to seeing their fine work firsthand.

For best alignment, I will mount the One Lap PS2's a bit early this Spring so I'll have them on the car when I stop by Autobahn's. I am taking the new tires and OZ Superleggera rims to Sansossio Auto Body  tomorrow morning. They generously offered to mount and balance all 5 tires for us!! These guys are one of the best repair shops in the area and they have done a lot of good work for BMWCCA members in the Boston area. They are very reasonably priced and most of their business revenue goes straight into their racing efforts.

3/8/05 - Christo wrote: I am thrilled to announce our newest sponsor: Club Motorsports. They are building the Valley Motorsports Park ™, a premier motorsports country club in the beautiful White Mountains of NH.  The club will offer memberships, similar to a country club membership for golfing, and the opportunity to drive on a challenging but safe 3.3 mile, 18-turn road course. In addition, it will offer a package of amenities that can not be found anywhere else, including: a vehicle dynamics area, garage service, professional driver training, a pro shop, and an Adirondack-style clubhouse featuring an elegant restaurant, locker rooms, spa, pool, tennis courts, and a spectacular view of the mountains. The facility will be opening in late Spring/early Summer of 2005 and we are convinced that it will be a huge success. These guys are racing enthusiasts just like us and we are honored and excited to have them as a sponsor!!

3/1/05 - Christo wrote: Thanks to Manny Lozano of Motorsports Driving Club in Indianapolis, IN, we now have the last in-car track video that was missing from our 2005 One Lap collection!! Now if we can only figure out how to drive these tracks...

3/1/05 - Eric wrote: I had placed an order with Turner Motorsport for some of their Grand Am t-shirts, figuring Christo and I can wear them during One Lap to show our appreciation for their sponsorship.  Turner was nice enough to give them to us free of charge - unexpected, but thoroughly appreciated.

I've gotten some emails from friends and family telling me that they've sent donations to BooksForSoldiers.com.  On behalf of BFS, and me, I would like to thank everyone that's donated to our charity.  Thank you!

2/25/05 - Eric wrote: I launched version 2.0 of the web site tonight.  My thanks to Nicolas, Jake, and the rest who gave suggestions and ideas to help give the site a better look.   Your help is much appreciated!

2/24/05 - Christo wrote: Today I emailed Eric: "Assuming we have ~ 85 entries and you were to guess how we'd place overall AND in the mid-priced sedan class, what would be your guess?"

His response had me rolling on the floor laughing: "WE'LL BE NUMBER ONE IN INDIANA, AND THEN IN PENNSYLVANIA, AND THEN IN NEW YORK, AND THEN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND THEN IN WEST VIRGINIA, AND THEN IN MARYLAND, AND IN VIRGINIA, AND IN GEORGIA, AND IN OHIO, AND THEN WE'RE GOING BACK TO INDIANA TO TAKE BACK THE TROPHY! YEEEAAAAH!!!!!"

If Eric popped a vein through all this, I sure hope it wasn't one that would impact his driving during One Lap!!!

2/18/05 - Christo wrote: Eric is working on sponsorship for a race suit. He has a pretty good incentive: if he doesn't find one, he will be wearing his Ultraman costume which can be found at the bottom of the Background tab.

2/14/05 - Eric wrote:  My wife, Pat, and I drove out for a visit on Saturday to Christo and Francoise's house.  We had dinner together, and then left to go listen to Brock Yates give a talk hosted by the Boston PCA chapter. Before we left the house, Fran talked Christo and I into getting a "publicity shot" of us together.  We were looking pretty shady until Fran commented that we both looked like we were having our mug shots taken - that helped lighten us both up!  We arrived at the Crowne Plaza Woburn hotel in time for the formal part of the PCA festivities.  Brock was very entertaining despite a cold, and it was great to hear him relive some of the highlights of his Cannonball Trophy Dash days.  Both Christo and I were a bit shy and decided not to bother Brock with introductions or ask for a photo with him, although he certainly seemed very personable and most likely would have honored our requests good heartedly.  I guess you could say we were saving up our aggression for the OLA event itself.  The wife and I decided to do some OLA practicing and drive straight back to home from Boston.  While it was only a 3 hr drive back, it did remind me of how old I am these days.  I'm looking forward to the days when OLA allows participants to bring a support RV along.

We've had some success on the sponsorship front: RaceShopper.com has agreed to contribute to our effort with some brake pad donations.  It's much appreciated, and we'll be giving feedback to RaceShopper.com on the performance of their brake pads.

On the charity front, we decided to approach a smaller charity organization, hoping our small efforts would get better notice.  BooksForSoldiers.com has welcomed us with open arms, and we are in the process of attempting to solicit graphics for the 325i in order to promote the BFS web site.  BFS is a very noble cause - providing a web board where soldiers stationed overseas and in combat zones can make requests for needed items, anything from Skittles and sunglasses to books, DVDs, and gloves for local children.  Participants simply post to say they are fulfilling the requests, and then mail out the items to the soldiers at the addresses that have been provided on the board.  I've done 2 mailings, both times offering the current set of car magazines that I subscribe to, and usually filling up the rest of the shoeboxes with some snacks of some sort.  I've received back a letter from an appreciative soldier who shared some photos of the local scene so that us folks back in the US can get a flavor for what the soldiers experience in their better moments. Very heartwarming, and I'm a fan of the effort now.  Please visit BooksForSoldiers.com and make a donation to help sustain this effort.  The web site is run by volunteers and operates on the donations and good will of others.

1/25/05 - Eric wrote:  Several phone calls to Brock Jr have boosted our enthusiasm for this event.  Brock Jr seems to be a very entertaining gentleman, and a phone conversation with him will never be without a laugh or two.  We're now officially listed in the entrants list on the One Lap (aka OLA) web site.  For as loose as this event tries to be, there sure are a lot of things you need to keep track of, follow up on, etc. in order to ensure your participation.  But it's all for a good cause - FUN.

Our charity of choice, the American Red Cross, has already responded to a request for participation with our effort - they're evaluating it.  We're hoping to get some signage from them in order to promote the efforts they undertake in disaster response.  We're hoping they can look past the amateur aspect of our team and see the good we represent.  I think we'll be fine representatives of their spirit of helpfulness in our endeavors, both on and off the track.

As a concession to various influences within and outside the team, we've undergone a name change, from "Bulgarian-American Racing", to the more lighthearted "ABsolute Puppies".  This will keep a wife happy as a working contributor to the effort, and can be used as leverage to avoid any suggestions for floral print racing suits from same.

1/20/05 - Christo wrote:  I was contacted by Turner Motorsport to see if I'd be interested in having the rear subframe reinforcement kit installed in my car and that it would be free of charge. They would use the install to test the process before it was officially posted on the website and would also take pictures for the installation instructions. I agreed and when I stopped by to pick up the car at TMS, I found out that we had a misunderstanding about the financial arrangement. We decided to think it over over the weekend. The issue was resolved on Monday morning when TMS agreed that the kit and install would be free of charge to me and even picked up the cost of replacing a broken front sway bar link, which they had uncovered.

I have had my car worked on a few occasions at TMS in the past and have always had a positive experience.

I think it is important to know that Will Turner personally addressed the issue in an e-mail to me. I believe his e-mail proves that it is truly important to TMS and him personally that every TMS customer leaves their shop happy. I will take the liberty of posting parts of his e-mail below:

 

...................................................................................

I have been following the situation with your recent experience with TMS. First let me assure you that our intentions (TMS's, Mine, and Kevin's) were not to take advantage of you in any way. When Kevin and I discussed calling a local customer to offer them the rear subframe kit install it was always our intention to give the parts for free and give labor at the best rate we could.

I understand now by your email , and by speaking to Kevin, that you were under the impression that the whole job would be free of charge. Since this was a misunderstanding and since I was not involved in any of the discussion - I have no problem covering the labor on the job. We will learn from this for next time and make it clearer to our customers of our intentions. No problem. I appreciate you letting us use your car for our photographs etc - losing our server really set us back.

I will void this whole invoice, you owe us nothing, no hard feelings for the misunderstandings.

Thank You

-Will Turner

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1/13/05 - Eric wrote:  We found out we have a sponsor tonight - Turner Motorsport!  Any Bimmer-phile will recognize this name with MUCH racing cred in such efforts as SPEED World Challenge and Grand Am.  While our 325i won't be getting a baby blue & yellow paint scheme, it will be benefiting from parts from their catalog.  Having some legitimacy added to our effort, we also scrambled to put together a web site with which to properly represent the team.

     

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