The Human Lap at Lightning Lap 2023


From the February/March 2023 issue of Car and Driver.

Lap time: 25:44.0

Class: LLHUMAN | Base: Unknown Salary | As tested: Priceless (mom’s treasure.)
Power and weight:
1 hp (estimated) • 160 lb • 160 lb/hp
Tyres: Adidas Adizero Boston 10 with Continental Rubber Outsole; 10.5
Peak Speed:
10.9 mph
Average speed: 9.5 mph

At 6:37 a.m., long before the sun rose to melt the frost and burn off the fog, I left the start/finish on my leg-powered shot. Although I didn’t have to deal with superheated fluids or tire temperatures, I did have a mild hangover.

This year’s contestants average 424 horsepower, while I average less than 1 horsepower. The average speed of Lightning Lap participants this year is 83.8 mph; However, I managed an average of 9.5 mph. At my speed and as-tested fitness, VIR’s elevation changes were more of a limiting factor than cornering grip, something that is clear from the data.

I spent most of Sector 1 making my way through the dark, hoping that ice hadn’t formed overnight for me to slip on. Even as I grew more confident in my footsteps, Sector 2 and Sector 3 were significantly less fun.

The 80-foot climb on the Climbing Esses and the painfully gradual incline of the Back Straight resulted in a 6:30 mile time for my second mile of the 4.1-mile course. I silently cursed editor-in-chief Tony Quiroga for asking me to do this, but the descents at Bitch and Spiral gave my lungs a much-needed break. Getting back out of the infield made me regret the last beer of the night before.

Mercilessly, my last mile was my fastest, possibly thanks to nearly a half-mile of back-to-back decline through Roller Coaster and Hog Pen. I don’t see myself competing with any LL5 cars next year, but with a little more sleep and no headaches, I’m confident I can set a new LLHuman record.

Back to Lightning Bolt 2023