Driver Diary: Trey Shannon – 24 Hours of America

North Carolina driver faces third 24 hour event to promote awareness for Tourette Syndrome

Trey Shannon 24 Hour of America

eKartingNews.com has partnered up with Trey Shannon as he attempts his third-straight 24 hour challenge. Shannon will compete in the 24 Hours of America event as a solo driver, while promoting awareness for Tourette Syndrome. Over the October 18-20 weekend, racers from around the world will compete at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. To set up for his event, Shannon gave us an early insight into his journey up to this point. Updates will come in a pre-race entry, followed by updates in an Official Forum Thread thanks to his members of his 24 Hours of America team.

October 24, 2013

Wow! Where to start? First off I’d like to offer my congratulations to the winners of the 24 Hours of America, ProCup Karting. Ennis Bragg, Joseph Buffa, Perry Herndon, and Drew Cattell all drove an awesome race, and were very encouraging every time they went by me on track. Even if they were locked in a battle with another kart, I always got a thumbs up or a thank you wave from them, every time. Not to mention they were the first team to stop me on the cool down lap coming back into the pits to congratulate me on doing the whole race solo. They are clearly true competitors, and also fantastic sportsmen.

Shannon - fourth from the left - getting ready for the start

Shannon – fourth from the left – getting ready for the start

Race day started bright and early with the 8 am drivers meeting. Ok I lied, it wasn’t bright at all. It was actually quite overcast and damp, but for me it might as well have been ‘bright’ because rain was exactly what I was hoping for. The Dino karts we were driving did not come equipped with rain tires, so in the rain we just raced on the slicks. Although this made it fairly tricky, it also made it much less physically demanding. Plus I love racing in the rain, so the morning was off to a good start. After the drivers meeting we got our table set up over by the fueling station and revised our strategy to account for the rain. Because the rules stated that each driver’s stint could be no longer than 45 minutes, we had planned to do 45 lap stints. In the dry, that’s exactly what we did, but for the first couple of hours while the track was wet, we just did our stints to the clock instead of a lap count.

I had three main goals for this event; complete at least 1,000 laps, not have any spins or off course excursions of my own making, and set my fastest lap in the last hour. Making it to 1,000 laps was the biggie. For some reason, I seem to set challenges where the 1,000 lap mark happens to elude me. At New Castle in 2011, I completed 920 laps for a World Record distance of 845 miles. At The Pit in 2012, I completed 938 laps for a World Record of 312 miles. Both times the 1,000 lap mark was almost within reach, but we couldn’t quite get it, so this time we really wanted to put that one to bed.

When the green flag waved, I took off running across the track to my kart. It was the first time I had ever done a Le Mans style start like that, and I had to make sure the Camelbak inside my suit didn’t come unhooked, and that my radio didn’t fall out of my pocket, so I probably looked a little funny running across the front stretch with one hand on my pocket, and one holding the bottom of my belly. Once I landed in the seat, I set off. My main concern for the first few laps was just staying on track. Everybody else was fighting right off the bat, so I just wanted to stay clear of any carnage. As a result, I gave up a few positions, but then settled in and started passing karts.

After the first two hours were done, we were still on the lead lap. Unfortunately, that’s when it started to dry out. I was hoping it would stay wet the whole race, and we could actually compete, but that just wasn’t to be. Now it was time to focus back on our target of 1,000 laps. I got settled into a rhythm of running laps in the 59 to 61 second range, while the leaders were running in the 56’s. With my brother Drew and our friend Jason doing an awesome job of spotting for me, I was able to pick spots for letting other karts by without slowing either of us down.

Shannon during the cool down lap, receiving congratulations from other drivers

Shannon during the cool down lap, receiving congratulations from other drivers

The hours started ticking away, and the race remained pretty uneventful, just the way we wanted it. The only problem we were having was that my radio was in my left pocket, and my leg would occasionally hit the scan button. It was frustrating when I couldn’t hear my spotter, but it was interesting to listen to some of the other teams, how they were working their strategy and coaching their drivers through. Aside from the small radio based drama, every 45 laps I would come in, make a quick trip to the port-a-john, stretch out, crack some jokes with my family and the guys at the fueling station, change my Camelbak and get back out on track. For the first 12 hours, we managed to keep each stop around 6 or 7 minutes. Finally around the 12th hour, I decided it was time to take an extended stop. I walked over to our tent and went to use the real bathroom for once. After a 15 minute stop, it was back out on track for the second half of the race.

Skipping ahead to the early morning hours, it was about 3 or 4 AM, over 17 hours in when I started to feel the effects of what I was trying to do. Each stint got a little tougher, and 45 laps were starting to feel like 75. My brother was trying everything he could to keep me engaged and pushing forward, including singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ over the radio. This was also about the time it started getting pretty cold. The cold weather was what did me in during my last 24 hour world record attempt, so I wasn’t about to let it get me again. I decided that instead of trying to just block it out, I should be proactive about staying warm. At each stop I started dashing over to the infield bathrooms to use the electric hand driers to warm back up. Luckily they were the ones where the nozzle rotated, so I unzipped my suit and pointed the damn thing right at my chest, and it worked! After two minutes of warm air from the hand drier, I felt like a new man. I wasn’t the only person doing that either. Each time I’d see some of the other drivers in there doing the same thing.

This leads me to one of the moments during the race that I will remember for the rest of my life. It wasn’t anything that happened out on track. I was a moment shared with another driver in the bathroom huddled over a couple of hand driers. There were three hours left in the race, and I was 84 laps away from 1,000. I knew that if I could pull myself together to do two more 45 lap stints, I’d be there. I was doing my hand drier body warming routine, when another driver came over to do the same, looking about as beat down as I was, and I will never forget what he said to me. He looked over at me and said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this whole thing yourself. I’m driving for two teams and I am broken.” We both had two stints more to drive, and neither of us had any energy left, but I knew he was going to do his two stints, and he knew I was going to do mine. We didn’t need to provide each other with motivation or encouragement, we both just knew what we had to do. It was a special moment where two men who had been pushed to their limit had to find something extra to go beyond it, and there was never any doubt that we would both be able to do that. I got back out on track, and sure enough, there he was driving the #13 kart. When I came in for my next stop, I warmed back up, got back out on track, and sure enough, there he was driving the #6 kart. I never doubted either of us, but I will never forget his words, “I am broken.”

After completing those last two 45 lap stints, we sat at 1,006 laps, and 45 minutes left in the race. At this point we had reached our goal. I got out, gave my brother a huge hug, and got myself ready for the last little bit of the race. We elected to park the kart until the last 15 minutes. At this point I was exhausted and didn’t want to get in the way of anybody racing for position, but I did want to be on track when the race ended. Somewhere in the 30 minute break, I found a second wind, and went back out for the last 15 minutes of the race and ran qualifying speed laps, and accomplished my final goal of setting my fastest lap in the final hour. When I came across the line and saw the checkered flag, I was relieved it was over, but mostly just pumped that we achieved all of the goals we set for ourselves with this run. After the checkered flag, they stopped us just before the last turn so everybody could line up on the front straight to shake our hands when we came in. This was a really cool part of the event, and it was very humbling to be greeted first by the winning team.

After we all got out of our karts we headed over behind the Endurance Karting trailer for the awards ceremony. Former owner Johan, and new owner Chris did a great job honoring all the track marshals, mechanics, fuel men, and pretty much everybody involved in making the event happen. I thought that was pretty cool, because they certainly didn’t have an easy job, but everything went off without a hitch. Having planned two 24 hour events in the past, I know how hard that is to pull off, and neither of mine was anywhere close to the size of this one. Hats off to all the Endurance Karting crew, they did an amazing job.

JasonConnole and Drew Shannon joining Trey on the podium

JasonConnole and Drew Shannon joining Trey on the podium

After the awards ceremony it was back to the hotel for a nice, hot shower which I had to take sitting down. Then we loaded up the car and headed back to Roanoke. Shortly after we got on the road I got a call from my good friend and recently re-crowned 24 hour karting Guinness World Record holder Lloyd de Boltz-Miller to offer his congratulations and ask about the event. It would be pretty insane if he could come out next year for the race and we could have a class for solo drivers, but we’ll see about that further down the road. I was so sore that I honestly thought it would be impossible to get comfortable enough to fall asleep in the car, but I was wrong. Well, only a little wrong, I fell asleep for about 15 minutes. Once we got home though, I was out for 14 hours, and it felt awesome!

All in all this was an absolutely amazing, and unforgettable experience. I managed to achieve all of our goals for the race, and it was good to see that the training program I designed for myself worked exactly as I had intended. Huge thanks again to Chris McCoy for letting me get in everybody’s way for 24 hours and hopefully raise some awareness for Tourette Syndrome. This was a fantastic event and I definitely plan on doing it again in the future. Whether or not that will be as a solo driver remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t mind flying solo again if there were some others doing the same.

As always, I have to give one final shameless shout out to all of my sponsors. Massive, massive thank you to my official design partner Oktane Visual and official media partner eKartingNews.com. Big thank you also to AiM Sports, PitFit Training, KartSport North America, KARTSALE.com, Yorel Integrated Solutions, David Lee Motorsports Media, Autowash Express, Kart360.com, KartingConnect.com, Howell Insurance Consulting Group, Marren Injection, Racer of Tomorrow, Fastech Racing, Acceleration Kart Racing. Without the help of everybody mentioned, I would have been watching the 24 Hours of America from the stands.

Now that I’ve rambled on even longer than my pre race driver diary, I’ll try to wrap this up. If you’re still reading, thank you so much for your support and interest in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. And if you’re only still reading because you’re ridiculously bored at work, then you must be REALLY REALLY RIDICULOUSLY BORED at work, so I hope I’ve provided some entertainment for you. After all, the whole driving for 24 hours by myself wackiness is all intended to raise awareness for Tourette Syndrome, and show the world and those living with TS what people like us are truly capable of. To help the cause and make a tax deductible contribution to the Tourette Syndrome Association, please visit my Active Giving page at active.com/donate/teamtsa/racingfortourettes. You can also access the page by going to treyshannon.com and clicking on the “Donation” link. Every donation, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated.

October 18, 2013

Trey Shannon 24 Hours of America TSAFor most of the teams, today was pretty frantic. Fortunately it wasn’t for me. While all the other teams were getting in as much practice as they could, practicing driver changes and working their strategies, I was able to sleep in for the first time ever during a race weekend. This was pretty helpful since we didn’t get in until fairly late last night. With our dogs in tow, we drove down to Charlotte from Roanoke, VA last night, making a quick stop at the RacerSites office to pick up my KARTSALE decals and meet the owner Chuck Tate. After a quick chat about how I got the idea to do this and how the heck I plan on staying awake, it was off to the hotel for some shuteye.

As I said, today was a day for teams to work on their strategy, practice driver changes and fueling stops, and work out who would qualify the kart and start tomorrow’s race. Since I didn’t have to do any of that, today was all about conserving energy. After the afternoon driver’s meeting, we went to kart selection and decaled the kart. Once we had the kart all decked out with our sponsors’ colors, it was time for a two hour practice session, followed by a half hour open qualifying session. We used the practice to test out our radios and make sure my seat was comfortable, as I experimented with my driving style to find a good rhythm for tomorrow. Luckily I drew a kart that has pretty light steering, which I heard wasn’t necessarily the case for all the karts, so I was happy that mine is fairly effortless to drive. After doing about 15 laps to get a feel for the track and the kart, I determined that a little seat padding would be in order for the 24 hour race. We stuffed in some egg carton foam and I went back out for a few laps just to make sure we had it right, and then parked the kart.

Once qualifying rolled around, I didn’t want to waste too much effort on trying to get a super quick time. It’s a 24 hour race, and I’m the only one doing it solo, so my starting spot is completely irrelevant. I did need to put in a time though, so I went out for a few laps and put down a time that ended up being good enough for the top 10.

Tomorrow is an early morning with driver’s meeting at 8 before the race starts at 10:30. I’m excited about tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be able to get some sleep tonight. Weather forecast looks great for tomorrow, and I can’t wait to get racing!

Intro

Racing for Tourettes logoHello everybody. I am Trey Shannon and I’d like to welcome you all to my EKN Driver Diary for the Endurance Karting 24 Hours of America coming up this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before I get into what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and every single mundane detail of what it took to get prepared for this event, I’d like to say congratulations to my good friend Lloyd de Boltz-Miller of the UK for breaking my 24 hour outdoor karting Guinness World Record last week. It was his 801 mile mark that I broke with my 845 mile adventure at New Castle Motorsports Park back in October of 2011, and he has now reclaimed that record with a massive 1084 miles, so huge congrats to him.

Ok, back why you’re all reading. When EKN asked me to do a driver diary for my 24 Hours of America experience, I thought “why the hell do they want me to ramble on about driving really slowly for an entire day?” But apparently there are actually people reading this, so I’ll try to make it as entertaining as possible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my prior exploits, this isn’t the first time I’ve decided that driving a kart for 24 straight hours was a good idea. In the past two years, I’ve made two successful Guinness World Record attempts for driving a kart 24 hours solo, one outdoor and one indoor. This will however be the first time I’ve attempted to go 24 hours as a solo competitor in a team race. Not only will I have to fight hunger, sleepiness, and fatigue, but I’ll also have to make sure I don’t run into anybody or become a slowly moving chicane. As a result, my main goal is going to be as smooth as possible and keep up a reasonable pace while I’m on track as not to be a danger to myself or my fellow competitors, and also to limit my rest as much as possible so I can stay on track logging laps.

Earlier this year I was working with the former owner of Endurance Karting, Johan Schwarts, trying to see if we could collaborate on a world record attempt. When plans for that fell through I floated the idea by him of me flying solo in the 24 Hours of America. He said he’d consider it, and when he sold Endurance Karting to Chris McCoy, he forwarded my request along to Chris who thought it was a great idea. I can’t think Chris and Endurance Karting enough for letting me do this. I have managed to do some sort of fund raiser for the national Tourette Syndrome Association for the last two years, so I’m really excited to be able to keep that streak going for a third straight year.

The biggest challenge facing me in this particular 24 hour odyssey is the somewhat abbreviated timetable I’ve had to get ready. I was confirmed to be a solo competitor in this event less than two months ago, which is a bit later notice than the year or so I used to prepare for my last two 24 hour adventures. Lucky for me, I’m a bit of a fitness junkie, making the month and a half deadline pretty doable from the standpoint of getting myself physically prepared. On top of the shorter training period, I would also be training myself for this race. I’ve spent most of 2013 with my nose buried in my “Essentials of Strength and Conditioning” text book, preparing for my Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification exam. During my study period, I used myself as somewhat of a guinea pig as a way of implementing the program design principles I was learning. On October 2, I passed my certification exam with flying colors, but this weekend comes the real test of the effectiveness of my training program. I feel great and can’t wait for Saturday morning to come around so I can finally get on with the 24 hours of driving insanity I have ahead of me.

Shannon will attempt his third 24 hour event in three years

Shannon will attempt his third 24 hour event in three years

The final obstacle I had to overcome was raising the money to cover my entry fee. This is where all my awesome sponsors come in. I am once again overwhelmed with the amount of support I’ve gotten from within the karting community, as well as several local companies in the Charlotte area. I have to give a huge thank you to my official design partner Oktane Visual and official media partner eKartingNews.com. Massive gratitude also goes out to AiM Sports, PitFit Training, KartSport North America, KARTSALE.com, Yorel Integrated Solutions, David Lee Motorsports Media, Autowash Express, Kart360.com, KartingConnect.com, Howell Insurance Consulting Group, Marren Injection, Racer of Tomorrow, Fastech Racing, Acceleration Kart Racing. Without the help of everybody mentioned, I’d be watching the 24 Hours of America from the stands.

I also have to give a shout out to my family. My wife has once again been the model of patience and understanding while I run around like a certain winged animal with a certain brain holding body part cut off trying to get all my I’s crossed and my T’s dotted for this event. My parents will once again be with me as well to help get everything set up and keep morale high. And I have to give a huge thank you my brother, who will be my strategist for this race. He’ll be on the radio with me the entire 24 hours, or at least that’s the plan. I guess if he falls asleep then how the hell am I going to know? It has been a while since we’ve gotten to work so closely together at the track, so we’re both really looking forward to the challenge.

Now that I’ve rambled on for far longer than the average person’s attention span prefers to remain engaged, I’ll try to wrap this up. If you’re still reading, thank you so much for your support and interest in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. And if you only still reading because you’re ridiculously bored at work, then cheers to you too, I’ll take it. After all, the whole driving for 24 hours by myself wackiness is all intended to raise awareness for Tourette Syndrome, and show the world and those living with TS what people like us are truly capable of. To help the cause and make a tax deductible contribution to the Tourette Syndrome Association, please visit my Active Giving page at active.com/donate/teamtsa/racingfortourettes. You can also access the page by going to treyshannon.com and clicking on the “Donation” link. Every donation, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in following along with my progress this weekend, timing and scoring will be streaming live on Race Monitor, as well as on the Endurance Karting website at www.endurancekarting.com. You can also follow me on twitter at @treyshannon, or on my Trey Shannon – Racing For Tourettes Facebook page, as my team will be posting updates throughout the 24 hours. There will also be a forum up here on EKN that we will be diligently updating as well. The race kicks off with a Le Mans style start at 10:30 AM Eastern on Saturday. Thank you all again for your support. I can’t wait to get on track, and am looking forward to sitting down after the race to write my post race driver diary so you’ll have something to distract you from work at some point next week. Wish me luck!

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