By on April 18, 2011


On paper, the Toyota MR2 should be an excellent choice for a low-buck endurance racer… but 24 Hours of LeMons racing has a way of shattering such preconceptions like a connecting rod hurtling through the side of a 4AGE block. In fact, the MR2 has been one of the least reliable LeMons cars, even worse than such good-on-paper-but-terrible-in-practice endurance machines as the Nissan Z and Porsche 944; we’ve seen dozens of them race in LeMons over the years, and nearly all have failed miserably… until today. Today, the Dai Mondai II car was the first MR2 to take the win on laps in the 24 Hours of LeMons.

We’ve been seeing the Dai Mondai team in LeMons races going back to 2008, and their MR2 had established a pattern of going pretty well for a time, then nuking the engine. Since the team is made up of a bunch of Toyota engineers, the frustration level got pretty high. Did they give up, as so many MR2 teams have done in the past? No! Today, their efforts have been rewarded with a rusty trophy and $1,500 in nickels. Congratulations, Dai Mondai II!

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12 Comments on “And The Winner Is…...”


  • avatar
    Quentin

    Congrats, guys!

  • avatar
    mechimike

    Looks like the weather sunned up and cleared out.  That must be why the Mr.2 is in the winner’s circle.  I was predicting the Neon would take the checkered.  Congrats to Dai Mondai!

    I’ve been following a little of the Radial Mr.2 build thread.  Those guys have a disease I really, really hope I don’t catch.  Luckily, I seem to be allergic to magic spinning triangles, which I group in the same league as radials. 

    So, did the Diesel Chevette finish?

  • avatar

    Congrats guys! We have been trying sooo hard to win one of these. Our MK2 MR2 is really reliable, our drivers, no so…

  • avatar
    ComfortablyNumb

    “like a connecting rod hurtling through the side of a 4AGE block.”

    Best.  Simile.  Ever.

  • avatar

    I was with the Diesel Chevette team, so I guess I will answer.

    We blew the motor after 9 laps.  
    The headgasket didn’t just leak, it blew to a degree I did not think was possible.  The Blue Devil sealant laughed at it and dissolved the last bit of the gasket just for fun.

    After a stupidly valiant attempt to pull the 30-year old (never-swapped) motor from our spare diesel Chevette into the new one, we had bloody and frozen knuckles and our spirit was defeated by Chevette design (or, rather, the lack of it).  There was absolutely no way that engine was coming out….but at least it teased us by allowing 90% of the removal to go happen first.  It was true to form.

    Drivers’ perspectives: It was the scariest possible racing scenario.  Our best time was under caution because everyone was lined up with the diesel Chevette at the front of the “no-pass parade.”  All 3 drivers had it floored most of the time and NEVER touched the brakes.  To say it was slow is an underestimation.  It was ridiculous and scary.  Their shoulders were tired from making the “pass me” wave.  A golf cart passed us in the pit.

    Anyone want to be a moving chicane?  The diesel Chevette is the car to get.  Blow the head gasket and you don’t even get to enjoy the full 49 stock HP!

    At least we make a freakin’ lot of smoke.  We had a problem because the engine smokes so much when perfectly tuned that it was impossible to see the contribution from not having a head gasket.  Seriously, this happened.

    Still, we felt we made a substantial and irresponsibly stupid contribution to LeMons.  With 9 laps, we totally beat uh, 4 other cars?  Unfortunately, we had 9x the laps of the rotary MR2 (who we were all rooting for).

    If nothing else, we felt we played the diesel Chevette hand true-to-form, but it was a huge bummer that it did not go out in the full glory of having time to swap all of our drivers in.

    (Note: I haven’t been on TTAC for about 4 years (was on daily back then).  Things are looking awesome and I cannot believe my login still works!)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Welcome back and I applaud your bravery for running such a frightening vehicle.  (I say this having experienced my Grandmother’s gas powered Chevette and honestly came away thinking it was much like driving a riding lawnmower with doors.) 

      I have seen Chevettes with crazy V8 swaps, perhaps a 6.2 diesel out of an old Suburban would do the trick?  ;)  

    • 0 avatar
      mechimike

      I once drove a ’82 Chevette that had been sitting in a garage for some time.  Started right up, A/C even still worked.  It was white with blue interior.  What a pig.  I managed 75mph on I-81, downhill, A/C on.  I cannot fathom how someone at GM decided to let them sell these things.  They were ugly, slow, and had the worst build quality ever.

      LeMons is the best fate for one. 

      For practical, get back to racin’ purposes, I recommend some crappy V-6 swap, like a 2.8 engine from a mid-80s Camaro/Firebird/s10/15 truck.  You’ll have like triple the power and about the same weight.

      For insane, we really hate ourselves purposes, an MB I5 turbodiesel. 

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Does “Dai Mondai” (which corresponds to the three Kanji characters in the front) translate literally to “Big Question” or really to “Big Problem”?  Hopefully the latter as some sort of reverse jinx?

  • avatar
    Piston1047

    Hello all Iam one of the Team leaders for the MR2.  Thanks for all the congrats.  Believe me it took a long time to get to this point and alot of hard work from our team.   Oh and by the way it means “Big Problem”, which we had about 2 motors ago.

  • avatar
    Jonescam

    CONGRATS Dai Mondai.  Never say never when the you’re on the line.

    Looking forward to “Capturing the Experiences”

    Jonsey

    JonesCAM

  • avatar
    Zippy5

    Diesel ……… what are you guys thinking? Oh, not thinking is part of this game! But I still can’t get my mind around the idea that a DIESEL could be related to racing/going fast/cornering/plastered to the back of my seat acceleration!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Neil

      You are aware of the LeMons judging criteria right?  
      You don’t get that kind of style with spark plugs!

      FWIW, the judges seemed as impressed as you are.
      0-to-60: Yes, usually.


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