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: