Thursday, October 19, 2017 Elyria 66°


One Lap of America cross country race tests drivers, cars


AVON LAKE — Traveling across America in a few days is a daunting task, but drivers who are part of the Tire Rack One Lap of America event took it in stride.

The motorsports event has been held since 1984 as a successor to the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an underground auto race of the 1970s.

Created by automobile journalist Brock Yates, the goal of One Lap of America is to drive cross-country, stopping at locations to compete in time trials at race tracks. The competitors, often driving 24 hours at a time, must run on a single set of tires throughout the event.

On Thursday, drivers stopped at Design Engineering Inc. in Avon Lake as part of the event. They were greeted by local auto enthusiasts who inspected the vehicles and talked to the drivers.

Derek Heim and Bob Knoerzer, of Florida, took the challenge for the third year, rolling into Design Engineering in a 2013 Datsun GTR.

They were the first to arrive and were in second place in the challenge Thursday.

Knoerzer said a lack of sleep has taken its toll on him, but he was excited to take part in the event again.

“It’s a family away from your family at home,” he said. “We know each other, and we help each other.”

Although there is a sense of camaraderie in the One Lap of America event, it is highly competitive.

Tom Miller, vice president of sales and marketing at Design Engineering, said the drivers will continue onto South Haven, Mich., ending up in Illinois for the final timed event.

Miller, who has gotten to know Yates over the years, said having One Lap of America stop in Avon Lake is a big deal for his business, which supplies heat protection parts for vehicles.

He said he gladly volunteered the business as a stop on the race tour.

“It certainly lets people know what we do. It’s kind of a way to open up to the town,” he said.

Miller said the One Lap event is well known in the racing community, drawing hundreds of participants each year.

Many vehicles took part this year, including a 2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, 2006 Porsche Carrera S and a 2011 Jaguar XKR.

“There’s even a Crown Victoria, which is amazing, especially in this type of event,” Miller said. “That’s what’s great about this event.”

The vehicles were available to view at Design Engineering after their arrival Thursday.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

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