Friday, December 30, 2011

One Hot Lap 2011: A Year in Review

It's hard to believe that One Hot Lap has been around for only 4 months. During this period we've had over 38,000 pageviews from nearly 20,000 different visitors and a ton of great feedback. Somehow One Hot Lap ended up ranked a Top 100 Motorsports site for the year and also ranked 24,932 out of 1.3 million sites overall. All of this in only 4 months of existence. I have to pinch myself to believe it.

We were the first to break out the story about the six baby squirrels that went racing in a BMW Coupe's airbox, which has been seen by 1 million people worldwide.

We covered firsthand the fastest production car in the world around a racetrack. We were also one of the first websites to take a new BMW 1M out to an autocross and then around the track and provide in-car videos form both.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Car Prep on a Budget (Part I): Log It and Pocket!

So… you’ve gotten that über gizmo for Christmas, ate far more than you should have, and got to see long-lost friends and family, but you’re still not satisfied. I know you all too well. Unless your über gizmo is installed with a varied assortment of metric sockets and spanners in the garage, while drinking beer with buddies, you are undoubtedly thinking about how you can manage to sneak some new car modifications past your significant other.

See, I told you that I know you… all too well.

You see, there’s a common theme amongst us performance driving brethren (and sisters); we all want to eek that extra 10th, whether it means lightening your car, installing the newest and hottest, finding extra horsepower, learning new techniques, or minimizing your belt size (save this one for your New Year broken promises bin). This series will delve into various options that will gain you a few 10ths while keeping some $10s in your wallet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Minis, Sushi and Power Metal

I loved the first few seconds of this new Mini Cooper ad. Empty city streets, fast turns, lurid slides, engine revving up - yeah, this is going to be good!

The paratroopers made for some interesting shots and the "live" slalom was pretty cool. But hey, does the car really need to go 15 feet wide to avoid the "live" cones? If you're going to put together a slalom, show some handling precision and get close enough so the car can clip the chutes with its side mirror, you know what I mean?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All from One Hot Lap!

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the valley,
Not a sports car was stirring, not even Ferrari.
The stockings were hung on the Tirerack with care,
In hopes that Hot Nick soon would be there.

The kiddies were nestled all tucked in their Snuggies,
While Porsches and Mazdas raced in their heads;
Mom in her suit and I in my race Huggies,
Had tucked in the Lotus, and then hit the hay.

When out on the road there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter:
Expecting to see a Bimmer roar by,
We raced to the window, my dear wife and I.

The moon on the chrome of her baby Lago,
Gave the brightness of noonday to objects below.
When what should my wondering eyes betray,
But eight tiny Fiats, pulling a sleigh.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fast iRacing Laps on Four Great Tracks in a Mazda MX-5 Cup Car

The off-season fever starts to get fierce this time of year and it's about to get worse. I just got beaten to a pulp at the Nurburgring on GT5 by 3 different friends. As if this wasn't enough, my friend and avid iRacing driver Tom Rathje issued a proof that he can beat my Z4 M Coupe's real-life times at Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, NHMS and Summit Point in a wimpy 195-HP Mazda MX-5 Cup:

Good for me these great iRacing laps don't always transfer to real-life lap times but wow - that MX-5 Cup Car will beat me at every track except for the Glen where we'd be about even.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Do Kart Enduros Work?

Kart enduros are team events. Unlike individual races where you are ultimately responsible for all your decisions, everything you do during a kart enduro is designed to help the team. I did a quick write-up and put together a helmet cam video of my first kart enduro here. Today we are covering kart enduros in more depth.

Early battle for position
First, the Rules
In nearly identical karts all weighing the same, driver weight is crucially important. To take out any weight advantage, all teams participating in a typical enduro are weighed before the event. If needed, karts are assigned weights designed to equalize the total weight between teams. After the drivers’ meeting, all teams go out for warm up/qualifying laps over a period of 15-20 minutes and the best qualifying time from any of the team’s drivers decides the team’s grid order. The karts have enough gas for the entire race but there are 7 mandatory pit stops for driver changes over a typical 90-minute race. There is no upper or lower limit on the number of laps that everyone on the team must do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Name That Caption! (No. 3)

I'll start:
Christmas Special: Red Bathtubs on Sale!
Comes with Scissor Doors And a Decorative Ferrari Wheel!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Top 10 Things to Bring to the Track: 9. A Big Tarp

$23.98 at Home Depot

This time we are going from an exciting item at #10 ("I've made fire!") to a really boring one ("I've, ugh, covered my stuff.")

Think of the tarp as a condom for your date: it's not an exciting item to bring to the date but it comes very handy at, ugh, critical peak times. Tarps prevent equipment loss just like condoms prevent minivans.

A few years ago it poured the entire 3 days at a Watkins Glen weekend I was attending. It was so bad, a little stream was running through the South paddock for most of the time. I was only using plastic crates to store my track items and could not save all of them. The original cardboard box for my jack got soaked and totally fell apart. It's not an expensive item but good luck finding a sturdy replacement box with the same dimensions. (I ended up making my own.) Many of the items in my toolbox and crates got wet too and since they didn't completely dry up for a couple of days until I got home, I had to throw out a few of them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sorry, Minis Look Cute Even When Rolling Over...

Actually, they look cute especially when they roll: because of their square shape, they just keep rolling like dice.

I think Angry Birds would be so much funnier if they launched Minis and rolled them all the way till they hit and destroy the hog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Driving the Wheels off The Car. Literally!!

Quick: what's the fastest way to lower a Mazda RX7?
Well, pop all the wheels off at the same time of course!

I've watched this video a dozen times and it still crack me up. See -- a decade ago, we would have been lucky to get a few pictures out of a story like this. Now we can watch it on video, play it all over again, watch the best moments in slow-mo, and get to hear the commentary after the wheels pop off:

"One, two, three, four, we're shy one. We need one... Only missing one, man!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

OneHotLap Track Review: Monticello Motor Club

To us driving enthusiasts, tracks are like our own children: we love them all. Short or long, wide or narrow, flat or hilly, mostly turning left or right, close or faraway, runoffs or Armcos, all tracks are good. But some are better than others and some are downright addictive, especially when they feature 4.1 miles of track pavement, 22 unique turns, and 12 distinct configurations like Monticello Motor Club. With over 1.5 miles of straights and 450 feet of elevation changes, MMC has challenging technical components, as well as seriously fast sections. The “Full Course”, a 3.6 mile driving heaven with 18 fantastic turns is by far the most popular configuration. Here's what the telemetry looks like on a fast lap:

At Lime Rock, a good lap would be close to a minute; at NHMS, maybe 1:20; At Tremblant, around 2 minutes; even at the Glen, it’s under 2:30. At the Full Monty, a good lap is anything under THREE minutes! During my first full course lap at Monticello, I realized too late there were no cars in front of me to follow and after a few minutes I started thinking I might actually get lost on the track. Ugh, does anyone around here have a GPS I could borrow?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Driving Shoes Review: One Hot Lap's Contributors Battle it Out

Today One Hot Lap's contributors tackle the manly task of shoe shopping. So many brands, so many styles, what to get? And which features should you consider?

Nicolas says:
Why use driving shoes? For the same reason you use a hammer to drive a nail into a wall: It's the best tool for the job at hand. This is what I look for in a good driving shoe:
1. The sole should be thin enough so you have a good feel for the pedal under your foot, but should be rigid enough so your foot is well supported.
2. It should have enough grip to not slip around the pedals, yet not be too sticky for switching pedals easily.
3. The sole should curve around the heel to allow you to rest your foot on the heel. This prevents notchy foot movement and that translates into smoother driving. 
4. Ideally, the outside of the right shoe should be covered in rubber to protect it during heel and toe maneuvers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top 10 Things to Bring to the Track: 10. A Pyrometer

No. 10 on our list: A Pyrometer $19.95 from Harbor Freight when really on sale

You know, some things in life you just gotta have. It doesn’t matter why and what for and how much they cost - you just want them and you don’t have to explain a thing or rationalize your choice. That’s how I felt the first time I saw an infrared thermometer (also knows as pyrometer) at a track event some 10 years ago.  

Just Point It And Get Instant Temperature.  
It works on any surface, right now! But oh, were they expensive!  $300 for a little laser temperature toy was not easy to swallow. I couldn’t afford it back then but like all electronics, pyrometers’ pricing has gone down significantly in recent years. So when I got an e-mail from a friend recently saying that there was a huge sale on them, I jumped on it right away. A day later, I had my very own pyrometer!

How Does It Work at the Track?
The pyrometer doesn’t lie when it comes to tire temperature.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Course Layout Insanity

Is this a Polish autocross? Serbian Track event? Some sort of European Gymkhana? Looks like they haven't invented cones over there yet but the old tires come in so handy, they even stack them up! And what happens if the little Suzuki loses control going flat out in the 90-degree left turn and crashes into the oncoming car, which is also moving at pretty decent speed?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paging All Track Geeks: Gran Turismo 5 to Re-Create Real-World Laps!

According to GT5's U.S. producer Taku Imasaki, real-world visualization will “soon be available to consumers”. The idea has been around for a few years: you take all data logged from a track session and  plug it into your PS3. From there, you can watch a replay of your session and even compete against yourself by loading the replay as a “ghost” car. Check out the real-world vs. GT5 lap comparison in this video:

Not surprisingly, GT5's graphics look better than the real world's!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

OneHotLap Track Preview: The Ridge Motorsports Park (UPDATED)

If you live in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and you like to take your car to the track, life is good these days. As you may recall, we recently reviewed one of the new PNW tracks, Oregon Raceway Park, and it was good.

News came out recently that another brand new track is about to open for business next year and it is generating some serious buzz amongst PNW track junkies. The track is looking like it's going to be phenomenal: 16 corners and some serious elevation changes. Everyone is trying to figure out how and when to get on it.

The new racetrack is called The Ridge Motorsports Park. It is in Shelton, WA which is on the South side of the Olympic Peninsula, a little under 2 hours from Seattle.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

LOL: Woman Flips Corvette on Her Way out of a Ferrari Dealership Near Boston

WCVB-TV Boston is reporting another Corvette crash, this one right under our noses here in Boston. According to the report, "Police said a woman driving a Corvette came out of a dealership on Route 1 and lost control, causing the car to flip and hit a pole before landing upside down."

What I really want to know is this: was the driver wearing scantily clad clothing and was she yelling "Go Daddy, Go Daddy!!" right before the crash?

Monday, December 5, 2011

One Hot Lap Denies Involvement in the World's Costliest Car Crash

Rumors that drivers were involved in the world's costliest car crash in Japan are simply untrue for two reasons:
1) cannot afford these cars.
2) drivers NEVER crash!!

Some of the rumors have described our site as "relatively obscure but very influential", which is also untrue. We are very well known among performance driving enthusiasts but not THAT influential...

So you probably know the details of the crash by now: $4 million-worth of supercars, highway crash, eight Ferrari F430, a Lamborghini Gallardo, 3 Mercedes -- plus a Toyota Prius -- among the vehicles involved, etc. What I really want to know is this: how the hell did a Prius end up in a crash of 12 supercars?! Did it have supercharged batteries?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lexus Bows: A December to Forget

There is no bigger joke in the entire automotive ad industry than the tacky, douchey, gaudy Lexus brand's "December to Remember" sale featuring a red bow on each car. We can all agree to that. But what surprised me to find out is that historically, thanks to this ridiculously annoying ad campaign, Lexus has sold more cars in December than any other month of the year. Does anyone really know of someone else whose spouse bought them a Lexus with a bow as a Christmas present?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oversteer & Understeer Lessons by Colin McRae

Here's a fantastic hands-on lesson from the immortal Colin McRae, all while racing on narrow roads! I love it how calmly he speaks at these crazy speeds -- as if he's talking about how to bake cookies. It's a sign of greatness when you can drive on the ragged edge and still have a ton of brain power left to explain how oversteer and understeer work!

And if Colin's McRae's lesson above is too much to understand, Top Gear explains it plainly:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Crashes and One Spin on the Same Street During Mustang Week

Rule #1: if you don't know how to control a car, at least keep the wheel straight when accelerating. Or maybe that stripe got in the way? And did you hear someone from the crowd go "It's alright, dude?" Is this how they encourage the idiot driver after he crashes into random cars on the street during Mustang Week?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

All Electric "Race Car" by Nissan NISMO

So Nissan’s in-house tuning division NISMO has built this race car:

... from this pedestrian electric car:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

If It Isn't Snell Approved - It's a F#cking Salad Bowl!

Picture taken at the 2011 SCCA Solo Nationals

The sticker reminded me this article on helmets is still a great read for anyone looking to replace their helmet in the upcoming season!

Friday, November 25, 2011

How NOT to Run an Autocross Event!! (UPDATED)

Corner workers in the middle of the course just a few feet from gates, one of them even crouching instead of standing, people walking around casually, light poles without any markings (let alone protective padding), and a 3-foot-high curb at the edge of the course mere 30 ft from a fast section. What could go wrong?

And another car is STILL running out on the course almost 20 seconds after the 'Vette's crash. Not a single red flag in sight. Too bad this 'Vette owner ended up paying a hefty price for the organizers' stupidity.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Having You!

As a performance driving enthusiast, I often have trouble giving sound advice to people looking for help with basic transportation needs. Inevitably, my advice gravitates toward performance options like rear-wheel drive, lighter cars, shorter wheelbase, firmer suspension and wide sticky tires. I end up defending tramlining (tram-what?), blaming factory settings for understeer (which is like a push, right?), and recommending 50-lb sand bags in the trunk of RWD cars on snowy days (this is when I get the “Are you friggin’ nuts, I’m just trying to get to work safely” stare and the conversation drifts back into safe topics like weather and sports.)

Sent by One Hot Lap member EJ

Monday, November 21, 2011

My One Lap of America Wheels Sold!!

Got 2 inquiries on the day after I posted the ad. The wheels went into good hands. The lucky buyer did not know that the wheels come with a certificate of authenticity for participating in the 2005 One Lap of America, signed by both drivers (a valuable collector's item!!)
The OZ wheels on my 325i during the '05 One Lap of America.

Was wondering if anyone would take my ad seriously:

17x8 OZ Superleggera wheels. Used to be silver when new. Probably somewhere in between anthracite and black with all the brake dust baked into them now. Look fantastic if you don't wash them, especially from a distance!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grocery-Getter Gets Busted for Illegal Weight Distribution at the Autocross!!

A BMW 535xi wagon gets busted for illegal weight distribution at the autocross in this video!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nintendo Builds a Life-Size Mario Kart and Luigi Bumble V Kart

According to this Press Release form Nintendo, West Coast Customs "has re-created two vehicles from Mario Kart 7: the classic Mario Standard kart, complete with glider attachment for soaring through the air, and the Luigi Bumble V kart, which resembles a bumblebee and features a rear propeller for underwater navigation."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cooking with One Hot Lap: We Discover the Secret Ingredient to Keeping Your Wheels Clean

After an exhaustive search and experimenting with substances (most of them legal), we are glad to report that we have discovered the secret ingredient to keeping your wheels clean: PAM cooking spray ($2.86 for the 8-oz bottle at Walmart). Empirical evidence showed that if you leave your race pads on the car for 2 months and never wash the wheels, the brake dust still comes off as long as you spray the wheels with PAM before the dust gets there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crank up the Volume for the Jeremy Clarkson Beatbox!!

I want a ring tone that goes "powerslide, powerslide, powerslide, powerslide..."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lime Rock's Christmas Special: A Grand a Day to Drive Your Own Car!!

Lime Rock Park has published the following press release (I am not making up any of this!)

Press Release (also suitable for Christmas Gift Guides)

A Unique, Unusual Holiday Gift…
How about driving your own car on a world-famous race track?

For $995, you can drive your own car at high speed - with a private instructor sitting "right seat" - on Lime Rock Park's iconic race track.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Record Breaking Run at Pikes Peak 2011

This is the first Pikes Peak run under 10 minutes, which also shattered the previous record by over 10 seconds. Watching the first few seconds from the run reminded me of those car commercials where the advertiser speeds up the footage to "convince" you the car is really fast. "Watch how the Mercedes C class would look at 160 mph if it was going FOUR times faster!!!" Except this run is for real. Totally insane driving and fantastic car control!! And those spectators are just as insane standing only a couple of feet from a car drifting at triple-digit speeds on loose surface!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Viper RT/10: A Fire Breathing Beast!

I read in the news that the 2012/2013 Viper will have a massive 8.7-liter V10 engine! This is refreshing news considering all auto manufacturers are reducing engine size like crazy these days. Even BMW is yanking its high-revving naturally-aspirated V8 out of the M3 in favor of a turbo six. The V10 in the M5 has been pared down to a twin-turbo V8. And Mercedes is replacing its 6.3-liter V8 engine with a 5.5-liter turbo 8.

The new Viper will undoubtedly be slicker, curvier, and somewhat more refined without losing its brazen character. Now that it's owned by Fiat, maybe it will even be like an Alfa 8C Competizione on steroids. But it is unlikely it will duplicate the wild feeling you get from driving the first RT/10 and GTS coupes (circa '96-'02).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Squirrel vs. Lamborghini

The squirrel's tail looks a bit shorter and sits much lower after this 100+ mph run-in with an LP670-4 SV at an Ultimate Lamborghini Experience event. I had a very similar encounter at 140 mph right in the middle of the braking zone for the Bus Stop at Watkins Glen this last September. Ironically, that was the same weekend this squirrel story broke out. Luckily, the squirrel moved out of the way just in time and never got a free haircut from me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

OneHotLap Track Review: Oregon Raceway Park (UPDATED)

East Coast and California track junkies are a fortunate few: They have a ton of good choices when it comes to race tracks. Lime Rock, VIR, Laguna Seca and Thunderhill are just a start.

The number of track choices in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) on the other hand, is much more limited. For the longest time, it’s been mostly Pacific Raceways (outside of Seattle) and Portland International Raceway. Both tracks are great fun. My preference and home track is Pacific Raceways, as it provides challenging corners with elevation changes. Portland International Raceway has smoother pavement, though. (There is also Spokane County Raceway in Spokane, WA but it's too far inland and hard to get to from the coast.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Excess Speed, Squirrels and Understeer

What can happen in one and a half minutes of driving? My friend Jamie Melhuish is about to find out in his 2011 Mt Philo hillclimb below.

I love it how calm the checkpoint guy looks when the car went off right in front of him at 0:37. No need to get off the chair in a real hurry, it's only 3,200 lbs of metal coming at you really fast. And did you see the squirrel having lunch right in the middle of the road at 0:58? Jamie had to wrench the wheel to dodge that squirrel, which barely moved at the sight of the car. Maybe it's one of this story's survivors who have been trained in performance driving since birth and are totally unfazed by another race car zipping around!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Sideways Blast Through the Snow

This video of Richard Burns in his WRC championship year (2001) is a perfect display of why I love watching rally. Unrelenting pace notes and a barely visible racing line require a level of commitment and trust from a driver rarely seen in motorsports these days, maybe except for this guy:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27: Not a Good Day for R-comps!

To autocross or to ice race this weekend: that is the question!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Hot Lap Partners with Turner Motorsport!!

OHL Friends,

You have probably seen the Turner Motorsport banner to the right of this post by now. Group code "ONEHOTLAP" gets you 5% off the entire TMS store, every day, no exceptions. This discount is exclusive to Clicking on the Turner banner and adding items to the shopping cart automatically applies the discount to your entire purchase!

As a rule, we will only add site sponsors with products that we like from our own experience. One Hot Lap is all about performance driving and we will only recommend companies that make positive impact at driving events. Turner hits bull's eye with their performance products and performance-oriented service approach. We expect nothing less from the 2011 Grand Am Driver and Team championship winners!

Monday, October 24, 2011

2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS at the Autocross

This is one of the most fun cars I have ever driven at the autocross. Throttle response is immediate. It accelerates with vengeance. Sticks like superglue. And it pulls the skin off your cheeks under braking.

Contrary to popular belief, trailing throttle oversteer is very easy to manage with the 315 mm Hoosiers! Lift if you need rotation in a turn. Get on the gas if you've rotated enough. The only trouble I had with it is getting used to the really wide rear track. You never see or hear the cones. Hip-checks only. You feel like a hero until you stop by the tent to get your time and the Announcer goes "You swiped 3 cones with the rear of the car by the end of the first runway and we stopped counting..." Thanks -- it really doesn't matter when you're having so much fun!

And here are the Results form the event.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Car Show vs. Top Gear USA: One Hot Lap's Contributors Battle it Out (UPDATED)

One Hot Lap's contributors spar with each other on The Car Show vs. Top Gear USA:

Nicolas says:
Let’s get straight to the bottom line: Both shows are trying their hardest to emulate Top Gear UK.

Like many gearheads, I am a huge fan of Top Gear UK. The show is phenomenal with entertaining and witty commentaries, breathtaking video editing and a budget with seemingly no limit. I have actually managed to turn my wife to it so I don’t have to sneak out of bed in the middle of the night to watch it. She enjoys it, which speaks to the show's broad appeal: 40% of its viewers are women.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Strippers to the Right, Please!

It looks like One Hot Lap is getting hugely popular and even local gas station attendants have been reading it religiously. We poked fun at one of them for trying to ease pain at the pump by helping customers Insert Card "Like Picture" Here. The attendant took notice and corrected the label. Here is what the new label looks like (intended strictly for those who don't believe a picture is worth a thousand words):

So the way that I understand it, too many people were stripping directly in front of the pump and the attendant is asking all strippers to do their business to the right. Wonder what else goes on at this gas station...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good Read on the BMW 1M from WSJ's Dan Neil

I found a good Read on the 1M from WSJ's Dan Neil Here.

The write-up is funny and engaging but Dan needs to correct some facts:

1) The BMW 1M and the M3 do not have an electronic limited slip. Only the 135i does. A mechanical limited-slip is far superior and it is the performance driving enthusiasts really want.

2) The 1M is not 77 lbs lighter than the 135i. The BMW Owner's Manual lists the 135i at 3,298 lbs. At 3,362 lbs, the 1M is actually 64 lbs heavier than the 135i.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why We Do It...

When you’re ten years old, everything in the world seems new and exciting. Your dreams are endless and you feel as though you could do anything. As you get older, your dreams may get more grounded, but you are always in search of that excitement you felt as a kid.

The fact that you’re reading One Hot Lap means you’ve likely found performance driving, or even just the simple act of driving, to provide that same sense of joy and even invulnerability you once felt as a kid. This is not to say that racers are impervious to the risks involved in motorsports. It's just that there is a particular happiness found in straddling the limits of adhesion overpowering any potential for injury that may exist.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When the "Check Engine" Light Is Not Right!

Imagine every time you sneezed or hiccupped, you had to go see the doctor. It cost you $120 or so, a few hours of lost productivity, and probably a lot of worries (good thing the diagnosis was good and the doctor said you were OK!). This, for the most part, is how the "Check Engine" (or “Service Engine Soon") light works in most modern cars, except you go to see the dealer.

I first saw the “Service Engine Soon” light on my 2001 BMW 325i just a day or two after I installed the first modification in it: an aftermarket cold-air intake. The warning looked ominous to me and it freaked me out. Did I just screw up my engine? And how do I “service” it? I went to the dealer on the next day and they said the code that had been triggered was related to an “out of range parameter: impermissible air range”. I checked the intake again and I was convinced it had been correctly installed. I knew many other 325i’s were running it and had no issues with it. The car exhibited no drivability issues and after a few days, the light disappeared. To this day, the light still comes back every once in a while when we get the first cold weather spell each Fall and then it clears itself out. 10 years, 100 track days, nearly as many autocross events and 170K miles on the engine later, the car is still running as good as new.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BMW 1M Autocross In-Car Cam (UPDATED)

A few weeks ago, I did Quick Takes on the BMW 1M, followed by a Track session video at Watkins Glen. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take the same car out for a run at the BMW CCA Autocross event:

The 1M did very well right out of the box!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Write-up on the Track Weekend at Tremblant Is the Cover Story on Boston Bimmer!!

My family’s plans for our annual pilgrimage to Mont Tremblant were as sound as ever: pack the night before, have a nice breakfast together, leave just after rush hour and get to Montreal before 3 PM when they close off one of the highway lanes going through the city. Our execution was as bad as any other year: sleep late, pack the morning of the event, have Trail Mix in the car for breakfast, leave too late, and get to Montreal right smack in the middle of rush hour. Hey, look at this: they’ve got another autocross course set up all over the damn bridge. Same layout as any other year: a 3-mile slalom! What do you do while stuck on the bridge for over an hour? Let’s see if we can figure out why so many people here drive small cars and everyone smokes cigarettes … Trust me, it’s a much better option than jumping off the friggin' bridge!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Five Minutes of Road Racing in Recent Memory

This video has everything I like about road racing: close action, similar cars, masterful driving, tight battle in the final laps, and lots at stake at the end of a 6-hour race. Watch to find out if Garth Tander will be able to hold off Craig Lowndes. If you are looking for a shorter version, skip to 11:00 and watch just the last two laps. These are the best five minutes of road racing I've seen in a long time!

I read that these Australian V8 Supercars are coming to the U.S. in the next couple of years. This type of racing would be really exciting to see live!

Monday, October 10, 2011

You Know It's a Close Call When the Co-pilot Goes "Oh Dear God"!!

Here's some mesmerizing 1983 footage with legendary rally driver Ari Vatanen behind the wheel. I'd love to know the real speed they are going at on this insanely tight country road. There is barely enough room for the car to get through. You know it's a close call when the co-pilot goes "Oh Dear God"!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Roundup! Gearhead's Guide to Smartphone Apps

It goes without saying that mobile technology has come quite a distance in the past decade. According to a 2010 study, over 45.5 million people in the US owned smartphones with the rate of adoption increasing extremely rapidly. From 2009 to 2010, global smartphone shipments increased 74% so it's safe to assume that at some point in the near future, only phone purists and grandparents will lack a device in their pocket that can access the web and function like an anorexic laptop.

This trend has created an impressively robust market of applications that address every niche imaginable with the automotive space being no exception. I'm a gearhead and I'm also a huge nerd and there's never been a more exciting time to be both. Below the fold I'll examine some of the coolest apps car nuts will love, whether they sport a pocket protector and thick frame glasses or not...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Local Hotshoe Trades Hot Date for a Hot Lap

Mark Dudek lived on canned food and Ramen noodles for his first year out of college in order to save for the best handling, most powerful and most lightweight car he could afford. He settled on a nice BMW Z4 roadster, possibly because it also shows off his biceps well. Mark has been autocrossing regularly for two seasons and won his class back to back against some very tough competition. Winning the Rookie of the Year Award along the way, he is on track to win the Driver of the Year Trophy out of hundreds of drivers this year.

In this video, you'll find me inviting him to talk about his ride's setup and how he is able to drive it so well. He has no idea we had arranged for a high heels clad hot date to go in for the kill. Relentlessly focused in front of the camera, he doesn't even flinch, brushing her aside so he can get back on topic. Are you reading this Andretti, Ganassi, and Penske? This driver has the skills, he is marketable and he would never be distracted by any of the hot pit babes that would inevitably surround him at every big race!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Team OneHotLap Completes Its First Karting Enduro (UPDATED)

15 teams competed in F1 Outdoors' 90-minute karting enduro in East Bridgewater, MA this Sunday, October 2, 2011. Team OneHotLap qualified kart #10 fourth on the grid and picked up a spot during the race to take a podium finish in its historic team outing. The event organizers did a stellar job over 90 minutes of clean racing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One-Trick Pony No More! Five Simple Ways to Be a Better Driver.

If you're reading this site, it's probably because you like to go fast, and you like things that go fast... very fast, and I am no exception to the rule. I am lucky enough to drive in clubs with wonderful people who have given me the opportunity to race their cars like I stole them- be it M3s from every generation or even the occasional Porsche 911. The thing is, I want to be fast in every car I drive, not just my own. So before the owners woke up from a mystery nap 20 minutes later, I was able to learn a few things that helped me improve tremendously:

Friday, September 30, 2011

1-Mazing Ride at Watkins Glen (UPDATED)

A few weeks back I posted a couple of innocent blurbs on driving the 1M for the first time here and many readers liked it. But a few weren't satisfied and demanded I take it to the track for some real testing. Not one to upset our readership here on OneHotLap, I did just that at a recent BMW CCA driving event at Watkins Glen International. My friend John C. was brave enough to graciously offer his barely broken-in Valencia Orange 1M for a fast session in the instructor group. The car was bone stock. In other words, no grabby track pads or tweaked alignment specs here to conflate my take on how this rare BMW handles the track in factory trim. Though it was fitted with Michelin PS2 tires from the factory and if you're a BMW enthusiast, you know that BMW's tire selection can sometimes be haphazard.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The 6 Steps of a Successful Skip Barber School (UPDATED)

If you've had any interest in motorsports you've probably heard the name Skip Barber. The now 75 year old retired racer started the Skip Barber Racing School in 1975 and began amassing a reputation for being one of the premier schools in the world. The alumni list is impressive with Formula One, IndyCar and ALMS drivers all crediting the Skip Barber programs as integral to, if not the start of, their racing careers.

So about a month ago I finally bit the bullet after years of saying I would sign up for a Skip Barber racing school. Excellence comes at a price and I always cited the intimidatingly high price as the reason for my procrastination. The irony is that I've absolutely spent the same amount, if not more, each year on High Performance Driver Educations (HPDE). But the all in one shot price was intimidating.

I doubt it needs to be said but... it was worth it. Join me on a breakdown of my experience, as an HPDE veteran, at one of the best racing schools on the planet...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Real People, Real Cars: Setting Up Team OneHotLap's GoPro Camera

We had invited Eva Mendes to the official unveiling of Team OneHotLap's GoPro camera at our recent BMW CCA track event. Since she turned the offer down, we had to go with our second best option: OneHotLap's Real People, Real Cars.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Batman's Lamborghini: First Aventador Arrives in the Northwest U.S.

I just had a chance to see the brand spanking new Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (exact model name!) at a weekly exotics gathering in Redmond, WA, just outside of Seattle. The Exotics at Redmond Town Center event is the Northwest version of LA's famous Cars & Coffee. In fact, it's so popular that it's become the largest car gathering North of California.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Six Baby Squirrels Go Flying Around a Racetrack in a BMW Coupe's Airbox (UPDATED)

After two BMW CCA driving school sessions at Watkins Glen Int’l, an event participant complained about the car feeling a bit “squirrely” out on the track. When he popped the hood open to investigate a possible cause, he found acorn leftovers and critter poop all over the engine bay. Upon further examination, it was determined that 6 baby squirrels had turned the car's airbox into their home and had been smuggled from Toronto through the U.S. border.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brakes Anonymous: A 10-Step Approach to Healing with StopTech BBK

As most “track junkies” will tell you, below is the natural brake “upgrade” progression for someone who tracks his/her car regularly:

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    VIP Parking Next To the Frozen Grey M3 at Turner Motorsport (UPDATED)

    I found my M Coupe parked next to Turner Motorsport's Frozen Grey M3 when I went to pick it up from service today. It's a bit like getting set up on a blind date with Scarlett Johansson: You just can't say no to spending some quality time together!

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    The Stig's Cousin the SMIG Getting Ready For Autocross

    I think the SMIG will do well at the autocross in his new BMW E30 M3. Actually, scratch that. He will do VERY, VERY well!

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    One Hot Lap of 2:13 Around Watkins Glen. In a Daily Driver!!

    I really like this Watkins Glen video for a few reasons. First, I know the driver Nick DeRosa who is very fast, drives at the limit and occasionally exceeds it (check the crazy save in the Toe of the Boot at 6:09). The video was shot on a clear day and in HD, with no traffic around so you can see the line and track better. The driver's steering inputs are captured in the camera angle and you can see how they impact the car. It's always a bonus when you can see the tach and the speedo. And my favorite part:

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Spotted: Ferrari FXX. Fastest Production Car In the World Around a Racetrack!!

    This is one of only 30 Ferrari FXX ever made and it sat right in front of me on pit road at a recent track weekend at Tremblant, Canada.

    It had a crew of two mechanics standing nearby, periodically checking the torque in the center lug nut on each wheel and keeping the car spotless, so it would be ready for its owner. You have to be on a very exclusive list of Ferrari owners to be allowed to purchase the FXX for approximately $2,000,000. However, since it is technically a development car, you still have to keep the FXX at a dealership, maintain it at the factory, and make arrangements with the dealer each time you need to have the car shipped to your next track event.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    The iPad vs. the bPad

    A Google search on “iPad” returns 1.3 billion results. A search on “brake pad” returns only 17 million results. Our collective knowledge of brake pads then is almost 1,000 times less than our knowledge of the iPad. This in spite of the fact that the iPad has been around for less than two years and the brake pad has been around for decades.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Protect the Mellon - Best Snell 2010 Helmet For Your Money

    The helmet as an art expression: SMIG's dazzling graphics by Luke Dobie
    are worthy of an exhibit at the Guggenheim.

    I was putting my helmet on at a recent autocross school when my student took one quick look at my old beat up helmet and innocently asked:

    “This must be one of the loaner helmets?”

    I paused for a second.

    “Actually, it’s my 10-year old helmet. The loaner helmets are all new and MUCH nicer”!

    Over its extended lifetime, my helmet had picked many scratches and chips in the paint. Most of the foam piece around the eyeport had torn off. It had probably been dropped on a couple of occasions. And, well, the interior smell could probably give a raccoon a headache.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    I Saw My First Bugatti Veyron In Person Today. Stunning!

    Fastest production car in the world!
    Top speed of 253 mph (268 mph for the Super Sport version)
    1,000 horsepower
    16 cylinder engine
    4 turbos
    1.7 million dollars
    0-60 in 2.4 seconds
    0-180 in 14 seconds

    ... And none of these numbers begin to describe the feeling you get when standing next to it.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Slideshow Video From Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant August 26-28, 2011

    Here is a slideshow video from Boston/Quebec's BMW CCA high performance driving event at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, August 26-28. These spectacular pictures were taken by professional photographer Pierre Goyette who did a fantastic job shooting all run groups from various corners of the track on each of the 3 track days. This is just a small sample from Pierre's album. High resolution pictures from the event can be provided on request. Pierre's contact info is on the last slide of the video. Special thanks to our friends at Veloz Media for their expert help with producing the video. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    It's Official! Beyonce Buys SMIG's Racecar. The SMIG Travels Back To the Future With a Real M3!!

    Rumors that SMIG's hugely popular racecar has been sold have just been confirmed. Our site had earlier reported that the car was only undergoing a Beyonce to Taylor Swift conversion here. It is not presently known if the new owner will retain the triple exhaust trunk routing configuration or the single exhaust configuration reported earlier here

    The SMIG has swiftly moved on to purchase Will Turner's personal 1988 E30 M3, which has won at Lime Rock Park, Pocono, Watkins Glen, New Hampshire, New Jersey, VIR, and Mont Tremblant and has finished 1st in 95% of its race starts. 

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Quick Takes: Driving the BMW 1M

    I was very fortunate to get behind the wheel of a brand new BMW 1M at the last autocross event. A friend had just decided to buy one on a whim (I always look forward to my big birthdays too!) and stopped by a dealer to see if they had any. It turned out that someone had just cancelled an order and a 1M was available to take home same day. He was incredibly gracious to let everyone in sight at our event take the 1M for a drive on the street even though the car had only 200 miles on the odo.

    First impressions: looks more muscular than the 135i with its bulging fenders, signature M quad exhaust and M treatment inside and out.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Random Ventings: Merge Damnit!

    If you drive with enough awareness of your surroundings, you've probably developed a particular knack for spotting cars on the road that aren't being piloted with very much skill. You know the scenes. The Crown Vic driver taking the car's boat-on-wheels persona quite literally by gently floating between lanes on the highway. Perhaps the Lumina that suddenly snaps to attention in the left lane after driving onto that insane rumble strip. Someone obviously dropped a Juicy Juice in the back seat. Or maybe the entirely too tinted G35 tailgating some generic vehicle in the slow lane.

    We avoid these semi-unguided missiles. We maintain our speed, perhaps change lanes, and do what we can to get away. We blame them for everything that goes wrong. Their fault we're sitting in traffic. Spilt coffee? Their fault. Elevated heartrate? Yep. But are they deserving of our most pointed vehicular disdain?

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    No Signs Of Irene In Tremblant Yet...

    Another peaceful morning in Tremblant. The track is just minutes from the North Tremblant lake on the picture and the morning mist only adds to the mystique and beauty of this area. Hoping everyone is OK back home and that the worst from the hurricane will soon be over.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Spotted: the Oldest License Plate In MA

    This 400k Lexus LFA was recently spotted at Herb Chambers in Sudbury, MA. Super rare car, no question. What I really want to know, though, is how you get the # 1 license plate in MA. According to Wikipedia, Massachusetts and West Virginia were the first states to issue plates, in 1903. So at least in theory, this makes it the oldest license plate in the entire U.S. I think the plate should have gone on an American car. It would look really good on a Viper SRT10!
                                                                             Picture by Jerry Urdang