Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
10/30/12 9:33 a.m.

Finish a triathlon. Climb Mount Everest. Compete in the Tire Rack One Lap of America. These are the bucket-list items of only the most hardcore challenge-seekers. They’re all grueling tests on one’s body, mind and equipment, and it’s an accomplishment just to survive them. There’s no prize money involved, only the reward of inner satisfaction.
It takes a special breed of car enthusiast to subject himself and a friend to a weeklong slog across great swaths of the country, with hair-raising track events to complete in between. This legal, long-running event is the spiritual successor to the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, itself an homage to Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker’s high-speed coast-to-coast drive in 1933.
The rules are simple: There are (almost) no rules. Modifications are unlimited. You can run any DOT-approved tires you want, provided they’re available through Tire Rack. Each car can carry only two spare tires—a real limitation considering the miles traveled. Support vehicles are not allowed, but a trailer full of parts is okay.
Thanks to all this freedom, the One Lap experience can be about as plush or extreme as you want it to be. Some competitors arrive in race cars (which typically bear license plates and questionable street legality) while wearing earplugs destined to be jostled out by highway expansion joints. Others come in nearly stock vehicles, ready to spend a week cruising the country in comfort while turning slower—but still exhilarating—lap times on track.
This was our first year of serious involvement in the event, and we went the more brutal route: We joined GRM contributor Andy Hollis for his third One Lap effort in a compact Honda. Could we help him bang out another top-10 finish against an ever-increasing mob of Nissan GT-Rs?

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