Posts Tagged ‘Leh Keen’

One Lap of America – Daytona International Speedway Stop

May 6th, 2011 Comments off

This week the One Lap of America has been weaving its way across the country attacking various race tracks around the country. If you never heard of the One Lap, it’s the modern day Cannonball Run where street cars compete at race tracks each day and then must drive to the next track hundreds of miles away. The cars compete for 7-8 days, over 3500 miles and must use the same set of street tires with a tread ware of 140 or greater. For complete details, rules and this years route, check out

After a last minute attempt to run the event this year’s event fell through, we decided to check out the competition first hand at their stop at Daytona International Speedway about an hour away.

With no support vehicles allowed competitors must pack everything they need into their cars. While on track all of the support items, clothing, etc must exit the vehicle so many competitors turn to creative storage methods not limited to roof racks, storage containers, and even support trailers.

Our good friend Leh Keen was the current leader in Daytona and the favorite to win the event overall. Leh is a professional race car driver who competes in both Grand Am and ALMS. Last year he won the competition in a well prepared 996 GT2, this year he chose to up the ante with a Topspeed prepared GTR. Having seen video and data from their test sessions, I am truly impressed with how this GTR performs. At Daytona the car was turning times within 1-2 seconds of the Rolex 24 race times, on a Michelin Pilot Super Sport Street Tire!

Like any race, competitors are looking for anything to give them that additional edge. With tires being a limited factor, brake and aerodynamic upgrades are a popular modification. The Alegra Motorsports Nissan GTR Featured an Aeromotions wing, very similar to the one we use on Joshua Barnes Time Attack Supra. The automated adjustment reduced down force on the straightaways and banking at Daytona, allowing for an additional 6mph top speed over a similar car using a fixed large wing blade.

This CRX used tire warmers to help get the most out of the high tread ware tires required. With no testing and your first 3 laps determining your time, the advantage of going out on warm tires was likely worth hauling around this piece of extra equipment. I must say however that having owned a few gutted Hondas in my younger years, it wouldn’t be my first choice for a vehicle to drive cross country with between events.

Roush decided that the race would be a perfect proving ground to show off what their latest Mustang upgrade packages could do. They brought out 2 Roush Mustangs straight off the Showroom floor, with Jack Roush Jr and Billy Johnson behind the wheel. These cars featured the new Coyote engine with a supercharged bolted to it and looked and sounded great, unfortunately their factory tune included a factory rev limit allowing only 145mph on the high banks.

The One Lap is a grueling race, with rigorous street sessions (sometimes 400-650 miles between stops)driving directly after track sessions, mechanical gremlins and driver exhaustion/error can take their toll. Not all vehicles complete the race as a result, this GT3RS suffered a clutch failure and needed a tow to the local dealer. In the spirit of the journey a clutch was overnighted, installed and the drivers continued after only missing 1 event.

During the lunchtime break competitors were allowed parade laps around the famed tri-oval, we were fortunate enough to get out there in my Z4M and make a few laps, scratching another line off my bucket list. If you’ve never driven on high banking, it’s quite the experience and takes a bit to get used to, I’m looking forward to running Daytona at the end of the year at a higher pace. After seeing the event first hand we’re even more anxious to put together an effort to run the 2012 One Lap.