First of all, nitpickers, I know that unununium was renamed Roentgenium in 2004. Atomic Number 111 will always be unununium in my heart, and (as soon as I can find a cheap source for the stuff) it will be used to stamp out the Murilee Martin Legends of LeMons awards for the most
psychotic inspiring 24 Hours of LeMons racers of each season. The ’10 season produced a bumper crop of LeMons Legends, but only four received the coveted Unununium Medal. Let’s see who they are!
The Murilee Martin Legends of LeMons Medals are awarded solely by me, without consulting the rest of the schmucks at LeMons HQ… but you’re still free— nay, encouraged— to call HQ and complain if you disagree with my choices. We’ll get to the Ununquadium and Ununhexium Medals over the next few days; today, we honor the four teams that I think
beat their skulls against brick walls epitomized the LeMons Ethos better than all others during the 21-race 2010 season.
Image source: Head-On Photos
We’ll start with the 2010 Coppa di Bondo (the top Emeryville-issued 24 Hours of LeMons season award) winners and their head
Police Brutality showed up to the Detroit Irony LeMons with the world’s most terrible 1963 Ford Thunderbird, which promptly fried its transmission. You see, Speedycop’s M.O. goes like this: 1) Choose a car that never in a million years belonged on a road course, 2) Haul it to a race track at least 1,000 miles away, with about three weeks of items left on the to-do list, 3) In a wild-eyed frenzy, thrash on the car for 48 straight hours at the race track and get it (semi-) trackworthy.
Speedycop never, ever gives up. When no 390-compatible transmissions could be found within a day’s drive of Gingerman Raceway, he and his accomplices dismantled the dead Ford-O-Matic and converted it to a one-speed, direct-drive unit.
Here we see the one-speed T-Bird getting a push-start for its glorious return to the track. Sure, the engine exploded in flames and shut down the track about two laps later, but it was so worth it!
After doing a bit of post-race analysis, Speedycop decided that the problem with the Thunderbird’s original engine was its lack of both cylinders and Teutonic complexity. The next logical step was to buy a wrecked BMW 750iL and install its M50 V12 and automatic transmission into the Thunderbird.
The M50’s mid-90s-style computerized fuel-delivery and ignition systems were just too damn troublesome, so for the Washington DC race, Speedycop converted an ammo can into a throttle body adapter and dropped a carburetor on top. For ignition, he rigged up a couple of junkyard six-cylinder distributors, one per engine bank. Amazingly, it worked.
Well, it worked except for the BMW transmission, which became very angry about the lack of input from the missing engine and transmission control modules and simply said “NEIN!” when the car hit the track. Limp mode, single speed, the usual. A water-pump failure added to the T-Bird’s woes, but LeMons Legend status doesn’t come easy.
The idea of a BMW engine in a T-Bird seemed like a good one, but perhaps a diesel would be a wiser choice. So, in went the M21 turbodiesel powerplant out of a trashed 524td wagon.
Naturally, it wasn’t quite ready when the green flag dropped.
But it wasn’t long before the Turbodiesel T-Bird roared onto the Stafford Motor Speedway track for the 2nd Annual 24 Hours of LeMons New England. The formula worked, and Police Brutality finally won LeMons racing’s top trophy.
After the race, Speedycop showed off some of his cop moves in the parking lot.
For the Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500, Police Brutality decided that what the series really needed was a Lancia Scorpion. And hey, why not drop the Scorpion body on an MR2 chassis?
It doesn’t look pretty, and of course it wasn’t quite finished when it arrived at the race track, but the ScorpiR2 worked pretty well and ran for most of the weekend. Speedycop even managed to talk 24 Hours of Daytona winner Randy Pobst, who was driving for some super-cheaty Crown Vic team, into taking a turn at the wheel.
Meanwhile, the Police Brutality Lincoln Mark VIII finally lived up to its potential and grabbed a fifth-overall finish at the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez race (not to mention a mid-13-second quarter-mile time at the No Problem Raceway dragstrip). What’s next for Police Brutality? In addition to the quest for an overall win with the Mark VIII, Speedycop will be bringing the car I’ve dubbed The Greatest LeMons Car Of All Time: Eight wheels, two engines, 5,000 switches! If that isn’t enough to melt your face, there’s also a ’42 Buick awaiting the Speedycop treatment. Better step it up for 2011, Coppa di Bondo aspirants!
Many of you followed the
We first encountered Spank when he drove his 998cc Austin Mini to an Index of Effluency win at the ’09 Buttonwillow Histrionics. In a calculation not made by your typical E30 LeMons team, Spank decided that the Mini was both too simple and too reliable. He needed something more… French!
A lot of LeMons regulars believe that Speedycop and Spank must be long-lost brothers, because there’s such similarity in their approach to LeMons racing. The choice of
After a thrash that went all night long and included a paint job, the Air Prance sChitroën started up for the first time since Reagan was a newcomer to the White House. 28-year-old oil and spark plugs, the works. One slow lap around the Infineon paddock and then right onto the track!
Shockingly, the Citroën ran all weekend, with a burst radiator hose the only problem that required pit repairs. The easiest Index of Effluency decision in LeMons history, for Spank’s second IOE.
For the 2010 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza LeMons at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Spank pulled out all the stops and dragged three cars to the track. The Citroën was there (and uncharacteristically ready to race upon arrival), the Mr. Bean Mini was there (with not-yet-functional turbocharging, using the bulletproof blow-through SU fuel-delivery setup), and… this was there.
You’d think that just bringing a terrifyingly rusty Mini Moke would be enough, but Spank and henchmen converted it into a totally credible Apollo 18 Lunar Rover… and they did the conversion at the track, because they still needed to, you know, get the thing running first.
When the rusted-to-hell subframe failed, Spank welded some bracing to keep the car from breaking in half. Meanwhile, he was busting ass helping his friends on the Team-ing With Bad Ideas Turbo Beetle team fix their never-belonged-anywhere-near-a-race-track car.
To end the season, Spank hopped into the Citroën on Christmas Day and headed to THE PAINFULLY BLAND BOWL OF THIN LUKEWARM OATMEAL THAT CAN NOT POSSIBLY OFFEND ANYONE, NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY ENJOY BEING OFFENDED, 24-HOUR SEASON ENDER… which was taking place in Florida, 2,600 miles from Spank’s San Diego home.
The Citroën made it, with much drama, but it needed a replacement water pump and some other repairs before it could race at Palm Beach International Raceway.
Onto the track! Tire woes caused the Citroën to lose some track time, but all went well… until a connecting rod started a-knockin’.
Spank didn’t want to bring the car back to San Diego (he wants to concentrate on the Minis), so he gave the Citroën as a wedding gift to Timing & Scoring gurus Stephanie and Roland, who tied the knot with Minister Lamm presiding. This isn’t the end of the LeMons sChitroën story!
Two teams have won the Organizer’s Choice trophy three times, but only one has scored all three of their trophies during the course of a single season (the other three-time winner will be getting an Ununquadium Medal for their 2010 efforts; stay tuned): The Cannonball Bandits!
What do you do with a Toyota Corolla FX16 to make it a better race car? You know the answer!
The NASCAR Meyer Wienermobile showed up to the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons and stunned everyone by not only looking just like the real Oscar Meyer version but by being very quick as well. It did need a few structural repairs along the way, but mostly it just kept racking up laps.
Many E30 drivers found themselves getting passed by the Wienermobile, which must have made them reconsider the whole “Ultimate Driving Machine” business.
Many teams would be content to rest on their laurels after fielding one of the all-time greatest cars in LeMons history, but not the Cannonball Bandits! A couple of the Cannonballs have day jobs building parade floats (really!) and they broke out their skills once again at the Goin’ For Broken LeMons at Thunderhill Raceway Park. This time, they turned a Supra into a replica of Tiger Woods’ Escalade, complete with golf clubs and mannequins of a bathrobe-wearing Elin Woods beating on a supine Tiger on the car’s roof.
On top of all that greatness, the whole team dressed as a horde of Tiger’s heartbroken girlfriends.
Every single time the “Escalade” came off the track, “Tiger’s girlfriends” would give chase, beating it with golf clubs and screaming “WHY DID YOU BREAK MY HEART, TIGER?” et cetera. This ritual never got old, and we were very tempted to have Race Control black-flag Tiger just so we could see the angry girlfriends do their act again.
After the Wienermobile and Tiger’s Escalade, we were all asking ourselves, “How can the Cannonball Bandits possibly top that?” We got our answer at the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza LeMons, also at Thunderhill. This time, the Bandits went with a two-vehicle team: Canadian illegal immigrants in an FX16 Corolla-based “Hyder” truck and US Border Patrol agents in a Crown Victoria-esque Supra. That’s right, the Wienermobile and the Escalade were completely transformed for this race.
The Canadian illegal “frostbacks” included the whole tuque-wearing crew of north-of-the-border stereotypes, including hockey players and a flannel-shirted dude with a maple leaf shaved into his chest hair. You want to win Organizer’s Choice at a LeMons race? The chest-hair maple leaf gives you a decisive edge!
During the BS Inspection, the “illegals” came boiling out of the cargo box of the Hyder truck— which featured a section of chain-link “border fencing” and mannequin Canadian hanging onto the roof— and were promptly set upon by the “Border Patrol” members of the Bandits.
Meanwhile, the team had rented a Sno-Cone cart and was issuing free cones to all comers all weekend. This was most welcome given the 90-degree temperatures at the aptly-named Arse Sweat-a-Palooza.
The Cannonball Bandits are excellent drivers, so plenty of teams faced the shame of getting eaten up by the Hyder truck. We’re glad this driver had the skills to avoid a rollover when the Hyder blew a brake line and hit the dirt at 90 MPH.
Photo credit: Jeepskate
Dave Morrow’s shop in Pittsburgh must have an unlimited stash of
For example, the Snoopy’s Quest For The Holy Nickelbag GMC 1-ton van. After the van’s 350 done blowed up at the ’09 Lamest Day LeMons at Nelson Ledges, Dave decided that moving the engine back several feet and adding twin turbochargers feeding a blow-through Holley carb would solve the engine’s reliability problems.
And, other than the failure of both turbos plus a pesky engine fire, the Holy Nickelbag van worked great at the Detroit Irony LeMons at Gingerman Raceway.
At the same time, Morrow’s Auto was running their Woodstock-themed Pontiac Grand Prix, the only LeMons car powered by a Pontiac V8. The 400 worked fine, but the transmission had a few issues. Here’s a typical Dave Morrow LeMons tableau.
For the Detroit Bull Oil GP LeMons, also at Gingerman Raceway, Morrow’s Auto returned with the Grand Prix. By this time, they’d ditched the Woodstock theme; the Pontiac was now “Morrow’s Auto & The Wacky Racers, Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth in the Buzzwagon Quest For the Holy Nickelbag.”
In front, a clear plastic hood shows off that mighty 400.
In the rear, it’s a Grand Prix-amino, complete with log bumper!
The Rufus Ruffcut-mobile got wrecked pretty good during the course of the Bull Oil GP, crushing the front log, snapping a control arm, and bashing the radiator. No problem, that’s what junkyards and busted knuckles are for!
Nobody was really paying much attention to the Grand Prix-amino, because the Pittsburgh contingent had also brought one of the
The Wasserboxer turned out to be exactly as reliable as everyone predicted it would be, firing all four of its connecting rods into several adjacent counties in a spectacular fiery blast during its first practice lap (actually, I was the pessimist who predicted it would blow up when being driven off the trailer, so I was pleased to see the Wasserboxer’s relatively bulletproof performance). No problem, though— Dave Morrow brought a whole bunch of air-cooled VW engines of unknown running condition! At that point, he began the first of many, many engine swaps.
After much trial and error, a quasi-functional VW air-cooled was installed, but none of the carburetors worked. Fortunately, Dave was able to combine the lower half of the Wasserboxer’s throttle body with some pressboard, a Holley 2-barrel, and linkage made from coat-hanger wire, a bungee cord, and a bicycle shifter cable to make the engine run.
OK, that’s it for the 2010 Legends of LeMons Unununium Medal winners; check in tomorrow for the Ununquadium Medal Winners!