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One Lap of America
“Approximately 9000 miles in eight days, driving around the clock,” Fritz Theilacker says describing his time racing the famous One Lap of America (otherwise known as the Cannonball).
Back in 1988, when Fritz worked for Excalibur, was when he raced.
“Excalibur designed the car specifically for the race,” he said.
Excalibur was a car manufacturer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The One Lap of America, is a road rally with vague directions, and hidden check points, whose route is the United States. The race, in 1988, had 65 entrants. Each car had two drivers and one navigator. Whoever finished the race with the fewest points would win. That year, the race started and finished in Detroit, Michigan.
“You didn’t know anything until you got to the check point. For every second you were late or early, you would be assessed a point. You would also find out where the other cars were.” Fritz said.
The race first started in the early 1970’s, and until 1987 it was illegal. It was sanctioned ”legal” by the S.C.C.A., in the year Fritz raced.
There were two other people with Fritz in the car. One was a movie stunt driver from England.
“He had never even been to the U.S. before,” Fritz said.
The other was Rocky Aoki, one of the founders of the Cannonball itself.
One memory was when they had to race up Pike’s Peak, which was right outside of Colorado Springs. This part was treacherous. It was entirely up the 14,100 foot mountain, with a steep drop off.
“I remember looking down seeing the tiny town below with a rain cloud above it, it was raining, but I was above the clouds,” Fritz said.
He said it was 65 degrees at the bottom of the hill. But when he reached the top, it was freezing. There was snow and ice everywhere.
But any good race cannot go by without an accident. Fritz says the only serious accident he remembers hearing of was, when a car went off a cliff in Angel’s Crest California.
Thankfully, the drivers were ok. Drivers in other years didn’t always get so lucky.
In the end, Fritz and his crew finished in the top 20.
“It was a great experience,” Fritz said.