US based Australian racing driver Tom Drewer is to compete in this year’s TIRE RACK One Lap of America event (April 30 to May 7), an event that has its origins with the infamous Cannonball Run of the early 70s (immortalised by movies Cannonball Run and The Gumball Rally).
The event is billed as “the toughest 8 days of racing featuring the fastest street-legal cars on America's most challenging racetracks!”
Competition time-trial stages are held at Grissom Air Force Base, the BMW Performance Center test-track and circuits scattered down America’s East Coast including the famed Daytona International Speedway (home of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona sportscar race).
Driving for almost 24 hours each day, competitors are given just enough time to transport between stages, enduring a week covering over 5000 miles from Chicago down to New Orleans and back, with no support crews.
Essentially confined to their car for days on-end, competitors “battle fatigue, weather, traffic and the demands of high-speed competition with both unknown amateurs and seasoned professional drivers like Parnelli Jones, Price Cobb, John Buffum, Elliot Forbes Robinson and Hurley Haywood.”
Drewer, an American IMSA Prototype Lites Champion, is set to drive with Joe Browne in a modified 1987 Porsche 944 fitted with a Chevrolet Corvette LS-1 engine. Nicknamed ‘Ex Puppy’ because its engine transplant means it can now “run with the big dogs”, the 944 now has around 400hp (A stock 944 has 152hp).
Until early this week Drewer was co-driving with Steve Loudin in a 4260 pound, 425 horsepower Dodge Magnum SRT8 automatic station wagon. However due to a family emergency Loudin withdrew his entry. Drewer coached Loudin to victory in last year’s Viper Racing League Championship, and amongst his own driving commitments continues to coach Loudin in his 2011 US GT Championship campaign.
“I thought my One Lap had ended before it had even begun. Steve was heartbroken, as was I, that we could no longer compete. I know it was tough for him to withdraw, and my thoughts are with him and his family.
But it’s fantastic to be given the opportunity by Joe. I had a 944 Turbo road car back in Australia, so I know them well, albeit not with 400 horses under the bonnet!
The Cannonball events became instant legends and it’s going to be special to take part in its successor, the One Lap of America.”
The TIRE RACK One Lap of America begins Saturday April 30 near Chicago, Illinois and ends the following Saturday, May 7.
History of the Cannonball Run and the TIRE RACK One Lap of America.
Devised by Brock Yates, the then senior editor of Car and Driver Magazine, the Cannonball, or ‘Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash’ was a “flat out, no-holds-barred race” from New York City to Redondo Beach, California with competitors navigating US highways at speeds well in excess of the posted limits.
With safety advocates hot on his heels, and a realization it was only time before he might end up before a grand jury, Yates ended the event and turned his attention to immortalizing the Cannonball by writing the screen play for Cannonball Run (1976). However, the best representation of the original event is possibly The Gumball Rally (1976).
In the 1980s Yates created a “kinder, gentler” successor, in which competitors weren’t required to speed. The Cannonball One Lap of America was born. Beginning as an endurance rally with points given for following precise instructions, the event began to take on more and speed events at the competitors’ requests.
In 1992 the event found its current format, near 24 hour driving each day with competition stages held as time-trials on race tracks throughout the United States.
Learn more at www.onelapofamerica.com
About Tom Drewer.
Drewer has been touted as one of Australia’s future Le Mans winners by respected motorsport commentator and cartoonist, John ‘Stonie’ Stoneham.
In his first year of North American competition Australian Tom Drewer dominated IMSA Lites 2 in 2008, taking the Championship with 11 pole positions, 10 wins, setting 5 lap records, all on unfamiliar circuits.
This gave Tom back-to-back Championships across the Pacific after he took the Australian Thundersports Sports Car Championship for West Race Cars in 2007. Drewer’s driving duties were split in 2007 with seats in both the Fujitsu V8 and V8 Giant Supercar Series, the feeder categories to Australia's premier motor racing series, V8 Supercars.
Drewer made his transition to cars in 2002, driving Formula Vees and winning the FVASA Drivers’ Championship, after a stellar karting career beginning at age 7 and once backed by triple World Champion Nikki Lauda’s airline, Lauda-Air.
Australia’s AutoAction magazine named Drewer ‘Best Overseas Rookie’ in their 2008 annual awards while prestigious Wheels magazine put Drewer in their ‘Hot Half Dozen Watch List’ for 2009.
Last year, 2010, Drewer was asked to make the world debut of the new Volkswagen GTI by American works team APR Motorsports. He also drove a Formula 3 car for the first time at Philip Island, finishing second in the National Class for R-Tek Motorsports. He was also awarded the coveted ‘Granton T. Harrison Memorial Trophy’ by the Sporting Car Club of South Australia.
Learn more at www.tomdrewer.com