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Damian Dela Huerta and Andrew Dekoning Honored at One Lap of America
Submitted by Dan Mazzella on Saturday, July 1, 2006 - 9:13am

Following in the tradition of the Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit, the 2006 Tire Rack Car and Driver Cannonball One Lap of America ran on tracks like Virginia International Raceway through Mid America. This year, the event's official vehicle was Mazda.

With the sponsorship, Mazda wants to recognise the top Mazda to compete in the event. Damian Dela Huerta and Andrew Dekoning ran their #53 Mazda RX-7 to a 21st Overall finish in the event. As rookies, they competed very well, and had nine top twenty finishes in the event.

Congratulations Damian and Andrew!

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July 3, 2006 - 4:28pm
Thanks for the mention guys...

The OneLap is definitely a wild experience, both in terms of the overall adventure, and then the 'events within the event' at every track you visit along the way.

I commented while we were going that It's actually very close to a traveling circus. Even while participating you don't know all that's going on around you, all you can do is try to make it to the next day. Only later are you able to read all the stories from all the teams to figure out what happened!

That said, we did fairly well for 'lap puppies' (rookies.) You can check the results and see that Damian was able to place as high as 6th at MAM, and I was able to place as high as 9th at Roebling. The car was/is very capable, even against some of the rediculous hardware that assembles for the event. We certainly were cruising toward a top 10 finish, and had the car to do it in the early going.

Unfortunately the car setup and our driving skill in the rain was poor, and we had a few last to near last place finishes in what was basically an undrivable car. If you check the results you can see we were doing really well, until it started to rain. Then the AWD and FWD cars really took over the event.

In any case, if you said beforehand that we'd complete the event, wouldn't kill each other, have no major car issues (that weren't self inflicted) and finish top 25 I think we would have taken that result. The only real failure was that we didn't win our class. We really didn't have any close competition in the class until it started to rain, then because of the point system the FWD Dodge (driven my Michelin tire engineers) was able to catch and pass us up.

In my opinion the real OneLap is about finishing, and the camaradarie that develops between you and your fellow competitors. A OneLapper would think nothing of giving up 2 hours of precious sleep if it meant a fellow competitor would make the next event and be able to keep going. If that - and no sleep for a week, and $$$ out of your pocket, and crazy non-stop driving - sounds like fun, then I highly recommend the event!

For more information check out the site that Damian put up at and you can see the route, our logs from the event and other info.

-Andrew D.
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Missed Opportunities
July 2, 2006 - 11:21am
A shame Mazda didn't start this collaboration last year when a nearly-stock CYM *won* it's class. Those guys didn't get any recognition from Mazda.
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It's probably because of the
July 3, 2006 - 4:41pm
It's probably because of the string of Mazda finishes over the years that they are interested.

That said, from year to year the competition varys widely. The FD compares very favorably to other cars in the SSGT2SB class, but the OneLap is a real endurance race, and anything can happen. So congradulations are indeed due to last years team for making it happen!

We actually conversed with the guys from last year before the event, and their main competition was an Ultralite. Well, there was another Ultralite in the event again this year, and while they were really nice guys, they didn't really have a chance against us because we had so much more car (and experience.)

Hopefully Chris and Dan and a few others are able to make it out again next year and the FD/FC/FE/Rotaries can sweep the class. :)
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