History Pit Stop 2:Dean and Dave Shermans One Lap of America
There are several unique events on the American racing landscape, but none covers more ground than One Lap of America. It is a challenge that requires an incredibly reliable car, intense preparation, and the ability to keep going long after sense has left you. Dean Sherman and his son Dave were just crazy enough to give it a go in 1998.
The 1998 One Lap of America was a "RUN WHAT YOU BRUNG" enduro that started at Watkins Glen, NY, then to Gateway in St Louis, Pike's Peak in Colorado Springs, Phoenix Raceway, Phoenix, Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Michelin Proving Grounds, Greenville, S.C. and ended at Watkins Glen, NY.
The car they prepped had a 2.3 NAPS-Z Long Rod with a little help from the machinists from Rebello Racing. It featured 44MM Mikuni's and a modified 280ZX air cleaner, 280ZX disc brakes all around with Carbotech racing brake pads and parking brake, 280ZX 5-speed transmission, Tokico 5-way Illumina shocks, oil cooler, remote oil filter, 3 quart oil accumulator, 280ZX struts with coil-overs, camber plates, custom 1 5/8" header, slotted rear cross member, 15X8 Panasports with 205 R50 15 Michelin's (required, major sponsor), electronic voltage regulator and distributor.
The rules state you must use the car you enter to get from race to race, with no chase vehicles.
Dean and Dave registered the car May 29th at Painted Post, NY, after a grueling cross country drive in their 66 Dodge car hauler. They were entry number 55.
The 30th was the start of the 'Lap 25 miles away at Watkins Glen International Raceway. first it was time trials, which Dave and Dean finished at about 6PM, then reloaded all of thier gear and took off for Gateway International Raceway in East St Louis, Illinois, 845 miles away.
They arrived there the morning of the 31st and ran 2 time trials, 1 for each driver. By the middle of the afternoon they were reloaded,and down the road to Pike's Peak International Roadway in Colorado Springs, CO, 860 miles away.
The same routine followed thethe morning of June 1st, then it was off to the next events at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, AZ, 795 miles away.
They arrived there in the early morning of June 2nd and were very pleased to see my Deans's brother Ed there to greet them. Dave was feeling ill, so Dean raced both laps.
The next stop for the 'Lap was Memphis, Tenn, 1497 miles away- a 2 day drive. The 510 had been making some noise as Dean and Dave got to Memphis, but they were too tired to do anything about it until the next morning. That's when Dave removed the valve cover and saw the timing chain tensioner guide lying loose down in the timing cover.
After a a bit of seaching a new part was located, but it didn't arrive until
after both drivers had domne thier time trials, a rather nerve racking experience!
The next stop, 570 miles later, and another checkpoint was at BMW Headquarters, Greenville, S.C. From there it was a short 55 miles to the Michelin Proving Grounds for 1 time trial. The track, about 1/3 of which was purposefully wet with sprinklers really leveled the playing field with the high horsepower cars. Dean and Dave had the best time of the 'Lap here, as compared to the top 20 cars.
After another 850 miles, and another checkpoint at the Cannonball Run Pub in Wyoming, NY, Dean and Dave were on the last day of the 'Lap. A brunch was hosted by the Cannonball Run Pub (owned by Brock Yates, 'Lap organizer), then they were off to Watkins Glen International Raceway.
They arrived at the Glen for the final time trial and the end of the 1998 One Lap of America. Dave ran the time trial and after finishing both Dean and Dave were very happy that it was over and the car was unmarked and running well.
The last part of the event was the awards ceremony and brunch on Sunday June 7th at Painted Post, NY. Dean and Dave Sherman finished 60th place finish overall.
Dean Sherman, "It was an unforgettable adventure and one that we will cherish for many years. In the 19 days we were away we covered over 11,000 miles."
"We never expected to give the high dollar and high horsepower entries any real competition. We considered our effort a success because we accomplished what we set out to do, we ran in and finished all of the events of the 'Lap and didn't embarrass ourselves or break the car."
Thanks to Dean for sharing his story and pictures!