We’ve seen the Unununium and Ununquadium Legends of LeMons, but we mustn’t leave out the nearly-as-amazing Ununhexium Medal Winners!
My head will explode if I try to rank these teams in any kind of order of awesomeness, so we’ll take them in chronological sequence, starting with the first race of the 2010 LeMons season: Phoenix. The Tranny Lumberjacks— previously known for racing the World’s Most Terrible V8 Volvo— showed up to the race with the first-ever 24 Hours of LeMons Corvette. Sure, they got totally ripped off by paying 300 bucks for this heap, and it’s true that they came in dead last, and it’s also true that their car sucked in every subsequent race, but still: LeMons Corvette!
What better way to honor 5,000 years of Jewish tradition— from Abraham to Gene Simmons— than by covering your terrible 2002 race car with gator-heads and menorahs, then giving it the number 666 in honor of Beelzebub? We can’t think of one.
Making a Ford Escort into an Escort-chero? Legend of LeMons!
Likewise, hacking up a first-gen Celica like this makes us very happy.
It’s difficult to get any E30 to Legend of LeMons status, much less the super-quick late 318 version. Team Operation, however, managed to do so.
They built a fully functional game of Operation on their car’s hood. Goldschlager bottles, bags of Skittles, beef jerky “snuff,” and other so-called goodies were available for the taking…
…for judges with steady hands. Here we see Judge Jonny going for the Jäger Arm.
What’s the worst possible vehicle to take out on such challenging tracks as Sears Point, Thunderhill, and Buttonwillow and try to keep up with swarms of buzzing RX-7s? Right, a Jeep Cherokee.
The Merkur XR4Ti would probably be regarded as the most terrible allegedly-quick LeMons car, were it not for the far-more-terrible Mitsubishi Starion. We’ve seen quite a few XR4Tis, and they’ve all sucked… except for this one, at one race. For reasons we don’t quite understand, the Tools managed to hold the lead for most of the Detroit Irony 24 Hours of LeMons, and (even after the usual mechanical woes) managed to come in third overall. For that, The Tools take home the Ununhexium.
Do you believe that the Volkswagen Quantum Syncro wagon was a good car? You’re so incredibly wrong that we needn’t discuss your delusions any further, but you will be happy to know that a Quantum Syncro raced in three grueling LeMons events and never broke down once. How? Why? Could it be that a team made up entirely of automotive journalists and PR flacks knows something we don’t? Whatever the case, Chicken & Waffles finished 9th, 13th, and 7th overall in their three 2010 LeMons races, far better than most teams running far less horrible machinery. Ununhexium!
Everyone at LeMons HQ always figured that an Alfa Romeo would win one day. We just never thought that the winner would be a GTV6. Team Corsa Nostra made several strong showings before taking the win on laps at the Detroit Bull Oil Grand Prix. For this achievement: Ununhexium!
It’s hard to beat a Fiero for abject lack of reliability, so we always respect the masochists who insist on running GM’s mid-engined machine. Double Jeopardy didn’t just bring a Fiero— they brought an Iron Duke-powered Fiero, and they installed a second front end in the back.
But that alone won’t get you an Ununhexium Medal. Double Jeopardy managed to steal the Heroic Fix trophy from mighty Police Brutality (who appeared to have the HF trophy in the bag), when they removed two and then three pistons and rods from their bearing-spinning Iron Duke, keeping the car on the track long past the point at which any
sane lesser team would have packed up and gone home.
Also known as The Most Irritating LeMons Car Of All Time, the Sensory Assault RX-7 features marine air horns to and Day-Glo leopardskin paint job to complement its brain-rattlingly noisy Wankel… but that’s not why this Texas team gets Ununhexium honors. First of all, there’s the exhaust-powered meat grill mounted in back. It actually works, shockingly enough.
Then there’s their godawful race-car hauler, which is based on the chassis of a huge 5th-wheel RV that burned to the axles. Note the plywood floor and very high center of gravity. What could possibly go wrong?
The main reason Sensory Assault gets Legend of LeMons status, however, is their extremely redneck burnout-enhancing LeMons Line-Lock device, which allowed the team to make the No Problem Raceway Dragstrip locals’ feeble attempts at burnouts look pathetic. Check it out:
I’m telling you, it’s easier for a rich man to get into heaven than for an E30 team to win Legend of LeMons status, yet here’s one that’s made it. The B-Team managed some strong showings in West Coast LeMons races in 2010, coming in 5th in the super-tough Western Region points standings with three top-10 finishes. But we don’t care about that. What we do care about is the fact that they’ve converted their E30 into a very credible Pussy Wagen, complete with costumes.
In honor of their most
And I’m looking forward to that, after having my optic nerves traumatized for life by the image that the British member (member, get it?) of the B-Teamers left on my BumperCam at the Phoenix race. They very kindly provided a framed, signed print of the “SchvantzCam Incident” for LeMons HQ.
After winning at Altamont in a gutted BMW 5 Series and then getting the People’s Curse with an even more gutted 5 Series, Black Iron Racing asked me what they needed to do to get their crazy-fast mid-90s 540 in our good graces. Make it into a Jeepney, I told them, figuring they’d never do it. I was so very wrong!
The King Lamb Jeepney looked great on the track.
It would fit right in on the streets of Manila, though it might not have quite the passenger capacity of a Land Cruiser-based Jeepney.
Photo source: Head-On Photos
The Porcubimmer was one of the first over-the-top themes we saw in LeMons racing, but the San Diego-based Porcubimmers didn’t rest on their laurels. No, they converted their already-butchered BMW 325e into a totally believable 1958 Plymouth, then brought it to SEMA. Yes, it’s street legal!
If the Hamsters had managed more than 1.5 laps per race from their motorcycle-engined Honda Z600 in 2010, they’d have taken home the Unununium Medal.
However, the car that I consider far and away the best-engineered machine in LeMons history suffered from many, many problems.
They switched from Magna V65 to CBR1000 power mid-season, but that just switched the focus of problems from engine to driveline. Rumor has it that the Hamsters are building something crazier, yet more reliable, for the 2011 season.
This Mercedes-Benz S500 took the coveted Organizer’s Choice trophy at the LeMons South Spring event, and its 12th-place finish was very impressive for such an unwieldy beast of a car.
Which makes the S500′s win at the Capitol Offense race nothing short of miraculous. Big cars, regardless of their level of power and/or Teutonic engineering prowess, have a helluva time avoiding black-flag-attracting contact with other cars on the race track, so this achievement (plus the great costumes) earns Team Sgt. Schultz the Ununhexium.
When you race a Chevy Citation X-11 in LeMons and you keep it running all weekend at the car-killing Carolina Motorsports Park, you win the Index of Effluency… and an Ununhexium Medal.
The Türbö Schnitzel Merkur XR4Ti has been around since the very first LeMons South events, and the Schnitzels have taken home their share of trophies.
We’ve always loved their psychotics-in-lederhosen-mit-beer-steins schtick, and their supremely unreliable car has earned them at least one Heroic Fix award. Then the Schnitzels, no doubt knocking back some knockwurst in their Atlanta bunker, decided to fire up the cutting torch and fix the problem.
Yep, that’s a turbocharged Ford 351 Windsor V8, complete with blow-through ammo-box-enhanced Holley carb. They also replaced the Merkur rear end with one torn from a Toyota Supra. I’d like to say that the Merkur went on to dominate the race, but it didn’t quite work out that way— it blew its differential while driving at 5 MPH through downtown Camden and didn’t get a whole lot of track time. Still, that engine swap earns the team the Ununhexium Medal!
When is a primer-gray, small-block-powered Chevy Malibu not boring? When the team that runs it is a bunch of atomic scientists and they use the number 238— as in uranium-238— on their car.
OK, maybe they’re not exactly atomic scientists. Stupid But Tough is actually a bunch of Tennessee Homer Simpsons who make their living juggling plutonium ingots at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and their Penalty Box antics and all-night, beer-swilling wrenchathons (have I mentioned that the small-block Chevrolet engine is surpassed only by the Mitsubishi Astron for LeMons unreliability?) keep the LeMons Supreme Court justices entertained all weekend long.
We’d been pleading for a team to race a Fiat 128 in LeMons since the very beginning, and Scuderia Fluffball came through at the Capitol Offense 24 Hours of LeMons.
We were overjoyed when we spotted the very first 2-stroke Saab to race in LeMons at the New England race. Built from parts scrounged from a huge, rusty pile-o-Saab-bits, this “96″ (it has more 96 body parts than anything else), Adopted By Jets took the Organizer’s Choice in New England and the Index of Effluency at the season-ender Florida race.
This Nevada-based team honored their home state by building a fully functional, track-ready LeMons slot machine on the back of their Golf.
Here’s Judge Armand giving it a spin.
Why don’t more teams race Cadillac Sedan Devilles in LeMons?
The King Henry the V8th Caddy drove down from Seattle to Thunderhill Raceway under its own power. The transmission was emitting a terrible scream as the royal purple machine prepared to race, so we figured it would be good for 7, 8 laps, tops. Not so! It ran all weekend and took the Index of Effluency!
Most E30 teams need a few LeMons races to work all the bugs out of their quick-but-not-necessarily-reliable German steeds, but the POSRacing guys started out strong and stayed that way all season. Five starts, five top-ten finishes; when the dust had settled on the 2010 LeMons season, the F’ed Up Express came in third overall in national points standings and second in the Western Region.
That’s one 3rd-place, two 2nd-place, and— finally, at the final West Coast race of the season— a first-place finish. POS Racing raced clean and stayed black-flag free (with the exception of that incident at Sears Point in which their driver almost ran over Chief Perp Lamm’s parents in the Penalty Box), and eventually managed to beat seemingly unstoppable Eyesore (by a half-lap) at Buttonwillow.
Why does a Bobcat get an Ununhexium Medal when all those Pintos don’t? If you have to ask…
This Integra GSR, which was in not-so-safe condition (to put it very mildly), spent the entire weekend in and out of tech inspection, failing every time. The entire team bailed early on in the process, leaving Team Captain John all alone to try to zip-tie his car into shape. Finally, with one lap remaining before the checkered flag, the Integra was authorized to hit the track; first-time-ever combo I Got Screwed/Heroic Fix trophy winner! You can get more of the story in my Heroic Fix History post as well as in the LeMons forums.
John was also part of several other
Yes, I did hammer this
This ’69 Alfa Romeo Berlina, in Croatian Touring Car Championship colors, somehow managed to stay at or near the lead for much of the time in two Midwestern LeMons races. Third place, seventh place, and fifth overall in the LeMons Midwest Region points standings. Pretty damn impressive for a 41-year-old heap of an Alfa.
I’ve got an unhealthy obsession with American Success Story Richard M. Nixon, as does Judge Jonny, and Team Resignation either shares that obsession or is totally kissing some LeMons Supreme Court ass. Whatever the case, we were awed by the completeness of their Escort’s theme.
Rhinestone Nixon campaign jewelry! You know why they used 74 for their car number? That was Nixon’s jersey number when he was on the Whittier College football team.
Their Supreme Court Bribe was a bottle of Johnny Walker in a hollowed-out Nixon biography.
Team Resignation’s Escort didn’t do so well on the track, but they managed to turn a Watergate-style setback into a Checkers Speech-grade triumph by grabbing the Heroic Fix trophy.
The first time we saw the Substandard Gremlin, it was being used as a launching pad by a soon-to-be-upside-down Escort in Texas. After that, things went downhill, with burning brakes and a fried engine.
At the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez race, however, the Substandards
What a terrible, yet great car. Same goes for the disturbing team costumes.
Installing a huge replica of the New York City skyline on your Honda Wagovan might be enough to get you the Ununhexium Medal.
Eschewing the trailer and driving that car from Brooklyn to Florida, in the winter, is definitely enough for Ununhexium (and Organizer’s Choice).
NSF Racing started work on their 1962 Plymouth Fury, which appeared to have spent the previous 25 years rusting in the Everglades, about two weeks before the start of the Miami race. It wasn’t quite ready when the green flag waved, but the NSF-ers got the 318 working and the fuel system semi-unclogged and it roared onto the track.
After a few hours, however, the 318 done blowed up. That didn’t stop NSF Racing, though; they dispatched one of the team members to grab a 273 of dubious running condition from a garage 150 miles away, swapped engines, and got back out on the track. 142 glorious laps!
The Clueless Racing CRX had been around LeMons for a while, but the team labored in anonymity until the day they won the Detroit Irony race. After that, we took fiendish pleasure in slandering the Cluelessers with accusations of outrageous cheatery during BS Inspections, then sweating them relentlessly during between-race residual-value negotiations. Not only that, they blew up their engine in race after race following their win, and I called it each time, e.g., “Hey, how’s your head gasket doing?” “Your connecting rods want to be free!” Actually, it’s not difficult to predict that a Honda B or D engine is going to blow up during a LeMons race, but the Clueless guys were convinced that mean ol’ Judge Phil was putting some sort of Honda Hoodoo on their car, just out of cruelty.
Before the Detroit Bull Oil Grand Prix, we told Clueless Racing that we’d give them enough residual value to maybe fix some of their busted parts, but only if they’d convert their CRX into a Borgward Hansa. “A Borg-what?” they asked… but then they came through. Of course, their engine blew up in that race (though they did win the Midwest Region points championship, which is worth some serious bragging rights). Finally, at the season-ender in Miami, the Clueless CRX stayed in the lead or right on the leader’s back bumper for most of the race; naturally, I composed a special song, sung to the tune of the Seven Dwarves’ “Heigh Ho:”
Rod throw, rod throw,
It’s off the track we go! (repeat until bashed on dome with tire iron)
And, guess what? Thrown rod with a couple hours to go before the checkered flag, and an I Got Screwed trophy! Sorry about that, Clueless!