Fists Turn Into Brave Ears: Scotto Hits the Track

Ken Block and Brian Scotto are nearing the end of their One Lap of America, and they're celebrating in style by hooning it up in a Target parking lot in Sheboygan in preparation for their morning adventure at Road America tomorrow. Below, Scotto recounts his first on-track session of the One Lap, during which he manages to both embarrass and redeem himself.

DAY 5

While an hour is long for sex, it's short for sleep, but I am still feeling chipper despite having robbed my body of a vital need. Why? Blame it on the rain. You see, today is my turn to to race at Putnam Park, but with the inclement weather upon us, it only makes sense to let the rally boy work his sideways magic. And I have to admit, I've been nervous about doing my ring thing. It's strange, while I won't think twice about drifting onto Sixth Ave or bombing a twisty back road at 9/10ths, tracks scare me — especially tracks filled with great drivers watching, judging and possibly laughing at you.

The One Lap time trials are ran in run groups according to your speed. The fastest go out first. But today, in the rain, the fastest are either sliding off on the grass or driving like they're wearing white-lace gloves. Except, of course, the AWD Subies and Evos. Ken and I can't help but smile when a Vette driver says "There is absolutely no traction out there today." I figure if Ken can find traction at 110mph in gravel, we should be good in the wet.

Ken actually rec'd the track on his skateboard in the morning and is studying his stage notes as I put my Canon SLR in its waterproof case: a Sheetz plastic shopping bag and two feet worth of duct tape. It's cold and nasty, and it occurs to me for the first time that Jalopnik is not paying me for all this work.

On his first hot lap, Ken is moving; the car's actually sliding instead of pushing through each turn. Brock Yates Jr. later tells me that a track worker said, "I can see [Ken]'s eyes from the start to the finish of the turn." Now, for those who have the spatial understanding of a goldfish, that means he was sideways all the way around. I can hear applause from the pit area as he comes passenger-side door first around the track's longest sweeper. Unfortunately, I am not positioned anywhere close enough to make it a SanDisk Moment.

"That guy has got to be the fastest around this in the wet," blurts pro-racer T.C. Kline about Ken as he pulls in behind him in the pits. And if it had kept raining, Ken would have finished fourth overall, but it dried up toward the end and the slower-running groups put down some dry track times. A Ford F150 finished fifth — ???! And a sandbagging Z06 took a time penalty and a calculated risk to run last and finished first. Oh well, Ken doesn't seem bothered. "I pulled the e-brake around that turn," he tells Kevin Jones — he of the the Crawford-built STi — "I probably would have had a better time if I didn't enjoy going sideways so much." But would he really have had a better time? Methinks not.

After miles of heavy understeer, tires begin to chunk up, and ours are looking ragged, so we swap them front to back for the now-dry run at 1 p.m. I wanted to sleep in the car instead, my nose is running, my head hurts, my throat is sore and my nostrils feels like I blew a line of asbestos. Yeah, I've been sick all week.

"Hey, I have an idea," says Ken. "You should race this one. I had enough fun already today, and it would be great for the story for you to get behind the wheel." He was right, but I'd never even looked at the course map, and our run group is leaving in five minutes. "Yeah you definitely should," adds Kiki — who is driving a Noble and doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well. Without much thought, I do what I do every time a girl tests my manhood — I drop my pants.

My arms and legs are shaking as I pull on my Alpinestars fireproof race suit. Ken jumps in with me as I drive up to the pit lane to give me the quick run down. "Okay, the first turn is a R4- and a R4+," At this point, he could be telling me the meaning of life; I ain't hearing shit! Actually, all I can hear is my heartbeat. I don't know this track, and I don't know this car. Yeah, I've trashed it on the street, but like Catholic girls, things change quick when you take off the skirt and hit the track. It's a whole 'nother animal.

As I accelerate over the first crest, I realize I am gripping the steering wheel way too tight. I ease back and breathe. I'm only on my warm-up lap. By Turn Five I realize I would have been better off checking my bank account balance while waiting in the pits. L3 means nothing to me right now. It normally takes me 3-5 laps to really begin to understand a track. I think to myself "If Ken is the Rain Man of learning racetracks, who am I — Sammy Jenkis from Memento?"

Ken is standing next to the starting grid as I prepare to launch, all I can think is "DON'T STALL, STUPID!" The green flag drops, and so does the clutch. The tires squeal and I scream down the straight. I am at the end of the pack, but still in one of the faster run groups. Turn one and two are behind me and turn three I enter wrong, but throttle through. I can feel the STi's tendency to understeer, but my extra-happy trail-braking straightens me out in turn four. I am catching the Neon. I smile. Then as I enter the next turn, I question "Is this Turn Five or a 'five turn'?" I speed up for what I still think is turn six and look beyond the turn to spot my exit. Problem is I can't see the exit, because I am actually at turn seven which is about 120 degrees — and the hardest turn on the track. Even the top guy went off here earlier today, and I follow suit. The grass is still wet and has the friction of a Slip and Slide. I brake, I downshift, I pray, I turn left and right, but I don't slow.

My ego needs a cold compress, but everything else is unscathed, so I head back to the black stuff. The HART Honda Si is coming around and I wait to let him pass. The last thing I wanna do now is fuck up anyone else's time. So I take my next two laps trying to stay out of people's way. On my cool down lap, I nail turn seven. Step the rear out and roll back into pit lane smiling. "You were either gonna win or spin," laughs KB... Thanks, dick!

The drag race event is canceled so we plan to rendezvous with Kevin and his Co-Driver Mark for drinks and dinner in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. We should be there by 9 p.m., which is an ber-early night on this trip. Three hundred and fifty rainy miles later, we feast at Chilis'. Ken and I ramble on about our Gumball adventures and plot a "real" Cannonball Run from NY to LA. After dinner we go to test something I mentioned at dinner—center axis donuts in an STi.

With the center diff locked and the steering wheel cocked left, Ken punches it in the Target parking lot and we spin like a top. Laughing our heads off, we slow down to see Kevin doing the same. I hop out and Ken demonstrated some rally driving; opposite lock drifts, pendulum turns around light poles and just some good ol' tomfoolery that Ken deems "Practice for running in the wet at Road America tomorrow."

More of Scotto's One Lap [Internal]