One Lap of America explained: PaddlUp distils the toughest open road event in the USA

28th April 2022

PaddlUp is lending its support to one of the competitors in the 2022 One Lap of America, so what is this event and what makes it a staple on the automotive calendar?

Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama preparing for the One Lap of America

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One Lap of America began life as the fabled Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a perilous road race from New York City to Redondo Beach, California. As the brainchild of then Senior Editor of Car and Driver Magazine Brock Yates, the early 1970s would host five of these events in which the cross-continent route was safely navigated in a fastest time of 32 hours 51 minutes, in stark contrast to predictions of the era’s naysayers.


Before long, Yates took the decision to organise a safer and more accessible event that maintained the same excitement as its predecessor, while introducing elements of legality and legitimacy. The Cannonball One Lap of America – the modern iteration of the event – was first held in 1984 to resounding praise. Back then, the format was uncomplicated; journey across 48 states and guess the mileage set out by Yates, with the team that came closest to that figure winning the event.


Today’s format originated in 1992 when a circuit-based time trial layout was brought in. Despite the modern-day competition being decided by the times set on track, competitors and their cars must survive several thousand miles of arduous driving, and with no support vehicles permitted during the event, the way you prepare your car is of paramount importance. Recent events have drawn in big names from the automotive and motorsport worlds including Travis Pastrana in 2021.


The 2022 Tire Rack One Lap of America Presented by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine is set to be the 37th running of the event, and is scheduled to run across seven days covering a staggering 3,500 miles across 14 states, whilst visiting nine unique racing venues along the way.


The event’s category system comprises 13 unique classes to fit each budget and skill level. From the headlining SGT-1 BB (Sports/GT Big Bore) category through to Luxury – BMW M3s and the like – to hybrid, electric, or diesel vehicles in the Alt Fuels tier. The Vintage, Truck/SUV and Economy classes ensure that entrants with (almost) any vehicle variation can take part.


The PaddlUp-sponsored entry will be running in the top-tier Sports/GT Big Bore category, the entry criteria of which specify that cars must be over $50,000 MSRP as well as 3.5-litre engines and above. This is for high-performance cars and serious drivers with previous winners including a Nissan GT-R, Porsche GT3 and a Chevrolet Corvette.


The car in question is a 2002 Porsche 911 GT2 (type 996) running under the Gas Monkey Garage banner with Christopher Smith, aka 'Big Chris' behind the wheel. With fewer 996s on the road than Carrera GTs, this rear-wheel drive, twin-turbo flat-six is a bona fide head-turner that competed in, and indeed finished the gruelling 2021 event. At the wheel is automotive industry insider Chris Smith and his team-mate Rob Neumann.


Racing is set to get underway on Saturday, 29 April from Waterford Estates Lodge before visiting Nashville Superspeedway Roval Course, Barber Motorsports Park and Heartland Park Grand Prix Course to name but a few circuits. The event will then draw to a close at the Tire Rack Skid Pad, Indiana on Saturday, 7 May.