2004 One Lap of America preview

April 26, 2004 (SOUTH BEND, IN) - On Friday, April 30 nearly 100 cars piloted and navigated by celebrities, racing stars and ordinary people will begin a 5,600-mile journey that pushes the limits of man and machine. The 2004 Tire Rackâ„¢ ...

April 26, 2004 (SOUTH BEND, IN) - On Friday, April 30 nearly 100 cars piloted and navigated by celebrities, racing stars and ordinary people will begin a 5,600-mile journey that pushes the limits of man and machine. The 2004 Tire Rack™ Cannonball® One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver Magazine, an annual endurance event for driving enthusiasts and their favorite cars and trucks, begins at The Tire Rack's U.S. headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, between 3:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America, will be competing in the 2004 event with co-driver son Alec. It will be the third time Bruggenthies has competed in the event and the second consecutive year that the event will stop at Road America, this year Friday, May 7. Spectators will be allowed in free; the gates will open at 7 a.m.

The 21st annual "One Lap" (www.onelapofamerica.com) again combines competitive spirit with a strong charitable drive, a mix that draws both serious competitors and everyday folks who want to enjoy the adventure of the open road while raising funds for their favorite cause. Vehicles include everything from a stock 2003 Mitsubishi EVO to a 900-horsepower 1954 Chevy pickup with more than $250,000 in modifications.

From the Great Lakes to the Great Plains, through the Nevada desert, down the west coast and back, the Tire Rack™ Cannonball® One Lap of America is a street-legal competition that tests drivers' stamina and driving skills, as well as their cars' reliability and performance. In just nine days teams will cross nearly a dozen states, stopping at seven major race tracks along the way to test their mettle in 17 competition events. Following an initial round of skid pad tests at The Tire Rack's state-of-the-art tire test facility, competitors sprint westward. Each day on the road includes a stop at one of the country's great race tracks where entrants compete for points and bragging rights. After a grueling trip the group arrives back at The Tire Rack on May 8, where a final competition and awards ceremony take place.

Teams range from celebrities to auto journalists to pro race car drivers. Andrew Firestone ("The Bachelor" and great-grandson of Firestone Tire founder Harvey Firestone), Tony Swan (Car and Driver magazine), Royal Ford (Boston Globe) and David Murry (Porsche factory driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans) are a few of the better known entrants. Firestone and brother Adam will be driving a 2004 Subaru WRX STi with a new Praxis driver-adjustable suspension system, available only at The Tire Rack and Swan won his class last year in a Porsche Cayenne SUV. Andrew and Adam Firestone spent Good Friday, April 9, at Road America learning the course, their first time at the race track. "We don't have anything at all like this in California," Adam said. "It's an incredible track." Andrew signed autographs and had his photo taken with Bruggenthies.

The official event charity is the Speedway Children's Charities (www.speedwaycharities.org), which strives to improve the quality of life for children in need, but many entrants will be competing on behalf of their own favorite charities. September 11 survivor George Batejan will be campaigning his 1965 Mustang for the Make a Wish Foundation (www.wish.org) while female entrant Linda Cheatham will run her 1997 Porsche Boxster for the Transplant Recipients International Organization (www.trioweb.org). Other charities such as Laps to Conquer M.S. will also benefit (www.con-trac.com/laps_to_conquer_ms.htm).

Entrants are required to use specific street-legal tires from a select group of manufacturers (Goodyear, Firestone, Bridgestone, BF Goodrich, Pirelli, Michelin, Kumho and Yokohama) and must start and finish on the same set of tires without wearing their treads below 3/32-inch. That's the tread depth at which point any tire should be replaced for safety's sake, according to The Tire Rack's tire testing experts.

The Tire Rack™ Cannonball® One Lap of America is open to virtually any vehicle. This year's entries range from economy cars like Markus Pizzali's 1997 Chevy Cavalier to David Zelkowski's 2003 Dodge Viper. Some entrants choose to build special vehicles for the event. For example, Ed Olkkola's 1954 Chevy pickup sports a 900- horsepower engine, Corvette front suspension and electronic overdrive. Olkkola and his partner Brian Healy have over $250,000 invested in the truck.

Sponsors helping to make this year's event a success are BMW, Corsa Performance, K-40 Electronics, Kicker Car Stereo, Summit Racing Equipment, G-Force Racing Gear and Optima Batteries.

"The Tire Rack Cannonball One Lap of America is a fun event that lets driving enthusiasts safely enjoy this country's open roads and assortment of world class race tracks in their favorite vehicles," said Mike Joines, Tire Rack vice president. "At the same time The Tire Rack is challenging them to properly preserve and maintain the only thing between any driver and the road - their tires - through a week of driving extremes."

Start and finish ceremonies at The Tire Rack (7101 Vorden Parkway, South Bend) are open to the public at no charge. For more information call 1.888.541.1777.

Official Schedule:

DATE (TIME) TRACK LOCATION
Friday, April 30 (3:00 - 7:00 P.M.) START: The Tire Rack South Bend, IN
Saturday, May 1 (8:00 A.M. - 5:30 P.M.) Heartland Park Topeka, KS
Sunday, May 2 (8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.) Pikes Peak Int'l. Raceway Fountain, CO
Monday, May 3 (12:00 - 7:00 P.M.) Infineon Raceway Sonoma, CA
Tuesday, May 4 (8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M) Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, May 5 (8:30 A.M. - 5:30 P.M.) Pueblo Motorsports Park Pueblo, CO
Thursday, May 6 (8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.) Hallett Racing Circuit Hallett, OK
Friday, May 7 (8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.) Road America Elkhart Lake, WI
Saturday, May 8 (8:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.) FINISH: The Tire Rack South Bend, IN

-cb/ra-

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