If you want to see someone on the edge, check out Mark Stielow
One Lap Attack '67 Camaro we featured in the August issue ("Goin' For It").Stielow, the manager of Summit Racing Equipment's engineering department, had the basic car completed for the feature, but it wasn't up to speed, so we agreed to ride with him for a few days during the One Lap of America seven-day event to get a real feel for it.
A FEW MONTHS BACK… It's a cold and rainy day as I wait for Stielow
to pick me up at Troy Trepanier's shop in Manteno, Illinois.Stielow
calls a few hours late, clearly disoriented (he has been up for three days straight dialing the car in-after a month-long thrash), but confirms the meeting spot.Trepanier takes me there, where we find Stielow
and copilot Lance Mallett waiting.Stielow
quietly says hello, hands me the keys, slumps into the passenger seat, and says we're going to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The leg to Blackhawk Farms, in Rockton, Illinois, is only 180 miles, so Stielow
decides there's time for a meal.It is the last meal we'll have for 24 hours.
Upon arrival at the tight, seven-turn, 1.95-mile Blackhawk track, we're told that a double event will be run to make up for the Road America cancellation.A few practice laps are allowed, then three timed laps, then two more timed laps later in the day.The track time isvery short, since 90-plus cars each need to run, so consistently fast cars and drivers usually place up front.In the first session, a Lingenfelter-prepped Trans Am crashes, stopping the timed runs for awhile and giving everybody time to think about how to go as fast as possible without crashing out of the event.
was angry about this but resolute in his
mission to complete One Lap.
We arrive at the motel at 3:30 a.m., check-in, shower, and get into bed by 4:15, only to have the alarm go off at 5:15 so we can be at the track by 6:00!I'm starting to doubt how fun it is to have no fear.
HEARTLAND TEST At the 1.8-mile Heartland Park track, the luggage and tools are unloaded and the car is checked over-only to find the pulley for the external wet-sump pump (the complex race engine must run either an external dry sump or a wet sump-and Stielow ran out of time on the dry sump system) has slid forward on the shaft, the key is gone, and the bracket is bending from the misaligned belt.With no time to fix it before the timed event, he
decides to run while watching the oil pressure gauge in case the pump fails.
tells me this is what One Lap usually feels like.
This feeling doesn't last, though, because the engine begins to miss and backfire about 35 miles from Hallett.Stielow
immediately indicates (over the painful gear whine) that he
thinks the engine has broken a rocker.At the side of the road, the rocker covers are removed to reveal a broken exhaust rocker on the No. 1 cylinder. Stielow
got the 1.6 Jesel rockers with the used race engine and had no idea how much time was on them.He
put them in the engine assuming they would be alright.Apparently, they were past their time.
Many possibilities are considered, but Stielow
decides to contact his
dad, rent a trailer to take the car back to North Kansas City, order replacement rockers overnight, and meet the One Lap in West Virginia.While this was being coordinated over the cell phone, it was discovered that the front rotors were cracking, probably from the abuse on the Heartland Park track, so new rotors were also ordered.
I had planned to go on to Memphis to get quarter-mile times, but since Stielow
was going to miss that event, I decided to get off the bus in Kansas City.Stielow
eventually got the car going in time to make it to the finish, but he
had missed enough events not to place.
IN THE REARVIEW Looking back on the Camaro and the entire One Lap experience, they are very similar.Both required a lot of work to complete, but the result is a sense of satisfaction that you can't understand until you do it.Stielow's Camaro is a great all-around hot rod, and the One Lap event is a great hot rod experience.And as Stielow
said about both of them, "It feels great when you stop!"
To see photos from this event (or to upload your own), click here: Event Photo Gallery
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has removed the valve covers to replace the broken rocker and check the valve lash.
Click to enlarge photoThere were almost 100 competitors in the 1996 One Lap of America, including everything from bashed daily drivers to factory-supported teams from Audi, Chevrolet
(the '94 and '95 overall event winner), Saab, Suburu, and Volkswagen
Click to enlarge photo
, in top MacGyver form, used a hacksaw blade to file the burr down to get the pulley back on the shaft.
Click to enlarge photoThe real test for Stielow
and Mallett came in Oklahoma, where an exhaust rocker broke.
discovered that Katech had some rockers left over and had them shipped overnight to get the Camaro back on the road.
Click to enlarge photoThe suspension uses modified factory upper and lower A-arms with Corvette spindles and Koni coilover shocks.This allowed Stielow to improve the bump steer and camber curve while narrowing the track width so the big tires would clear the wheel openings.The 13.5-inch Baer rotor and four-piston caliper bolt up to the Corvette spindles as if they were a factory brake system.
couldn't have built this car or run this event without the help of many people, some of whom he
doesn't even know!Some of the guys he
does know are Larry Erickson, Jim Fleming, Matt and Mike Buco, Jack Chisenhall, Kath Oldham, and everybody at Mallett Motorsports and Summit Racing
Click to enlarge photoStielow
spent three weeks building the 3-inch stainless steel Borla exhaust to keep it tucked up under the car, and it shows.