The Truth About Cars » 24 Hours of LeMons Infineon The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:46:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 24 Hours of LeMons Infineon And the Real Winner Is… Mon, 24 Oct 2011 05:53:14 +0000 It is not possible for a Chrysler minivan to finish in the top third of a weekend-long race on the car-killing turns and hils of Infineon Raceway, which is proof that this weekend’s race never happened. That means that the performance of the Team Soccer Moms’ Caravan must have been the product of mass hallucination.
This factory-5-speed-equipped Dodge family hauler finished ahead of more than 100 competitors, while remaining nearly black-flag- and breakdown-free all weekend.
The Soccer Moms battled a Colt, a GLC, a Fire Arrow, and an Escort wagon for IOE honors. In the end, even a Fire Arrow couldn’t match the sheer inappropriateness of a K-car-based minivan as a race car. Congratulations, Soccer Moms!

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And the Winner Is… Mon, 24 Oct 2011 05:32:50 +0000 It’s been quite a year for the builders of the Model T GT: a feature article in Hot Rod, plus several races in which the T held the lead for quite a while before vaporizing the transmission. Finally, everything came together this weekend at Infineon Raceway aka Sears Point, and the world’s quickest road-race Model T turned more laps than every one of its 170 competitors.
The team’s route to the winner’s circle involved a reduction in power, going from a 500CFM two-barrel carburetor to a 390CFM model, then retarding the ignition timing. This slowed the car down by a few seconds per lap, but kept the fragile T5 transmission alive and reduced the number of fuel stops by increasing the car’s range on a tank of fuel.
I’ve known Dave Schaible, the hot-rodder behind the T GT, since he helped me build the Impala Hell Project’s engine more than a decade ago, and I know how he scrounged up the bits and pieces to build today’s winner (I also know he’s good enough at building engines that we did an impound-and-dyno-test routine on the T GT’s Ford 302— when it was in the Buttonwillow-winning Mustard Yellow Volvo Doing 45 In The Fast Lane— at a Thunderhill LeMons race a while back: 188 horsepower).
According to LeMons Chief Perp Jay Lamm, the rules will soon be a-changing, making quasi-scratchbuilt-chassis cars like this (the T GT is built on a much-modified Model A frame with Fox Thunderbird suspension) more difficult to get onto a LeMons track (rumor has it that motorcycle engines in LeMons cars may also be outlawed). The T GT has become Schaible’s daily driver, anyway, so maybe it’s just as well that its racing days will be over soon. Congratulations, Team Model T GT!

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Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 Day One: BMW E34 Leads, Model T GT Close Behind Sun, 23 Oct 2011 05:26:01 +0000 It was a long, hot, crazy, metal-crunching day at Infineon Raceway today, with cars bashing into walls and each other, shooting rods through hoods, catching on fire, and generally reducing the world’s stock of sub-$500 beaters. Still, some of the 171 Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 24 Hours of LeMons teams managed to keep running, and when the session ended we had some familiar faces in the top five.
Leading the race by the thinnest whisker-width margin is the If It’s Not Punk It’s Junk GP BMW 525i. This team has looked pretty good in recent races, but this is the first time they’ve ever managed to finish a Saturday session on top.
I dropped by If It’s Not Punk It’s Junk HQ tonight and found that they were listening to Deep Purple, of all things, as they wrenched on their BMW. So much for their image! They promised they’d switch to the Dead Kennedys as soon as their “party mix” ended.
Pretty much glued right to the E34′s bumper is the Model T GT. This team has the advantage of being stacked with a bunch of ringers (some of the top Spec Miata drivers on the West Coast), but the massive disadvantage of the fragile T5 transmission. We’ve seen the T GT take an intimidating lead in race after race, only to barf T5 parts all over the track with hours to go. It’s got V8 power and killer driving talent… but you need a transmission to finish a race. Actually, the T GT would be leading the race right now if not for the 3 BS-inspection penalty laps we gave it as part of the “handicap the perennial contenders” program we inaugurated yesterday.
Speaking of teams being held back by penalty laps, Eyesore Racing also got hit with the 3-lap handicap, and that puts them four laps back of the leader instead of just one. That doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point, however; Eyesore is known for making a big move in the late hours of a LeMons race.
If I were an If It’s Not Punk It’s Junk driver, however, I’d be most worried about this car. POSRacing, aka the F’ed-Up Express aka Spin-N-Out Burgers E30, has been running its usual invisible, trouble-free race. This team rarely makes mistakes, and their car manages to avoid the usual LeMons E30 electrical-system and wheel-bearing woes. POSRacing is seven laps back of the E34, instead of the four-lap margin they’d be facing if they hadn’t been zapped with the 3-lap BS handicap.
Here’s something you don’t see very often at a LeMons race: a BMW 2002 in the top five. Team Hurling Moss has been around for years, and they’ve done quite well— though not this well— in the past. They’re a serious long shot for the overall win, with lap times 5-8 seconds off the other leaders’ best times, but you just never know what will happen at a LeMons race.
Meanwhile, the LeMons Supreme Court will be doing our best to keep miscreant drivers from putting each other into the many walls at Sears Point. Check in tomorrow to see how it all sorts out.

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Fire Arrow, Twin-Stick Colt, and Devo: BS Inspections at the Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 24 Hours of LeMons Sat, 22 Oct 2011 05:45:08 +0000 The full name of this weekend’s race at Sears Point aka Infineon Raceway is “THE SKANKAWAY ANTI-TOE-FUNGAL 500, SPONSORED BY CRUSKIN-SKANKAWAY INC., THE OFFICIAL FUNGICIDAL TOE CREME OF LEMONS,” because Cruskin-Skankaway, Inc., won the bidding war for race sponsorship. Appropriately enough, this race featured more Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler-Mitsubishi products than any race in LeMons history.
Life is good when you have an early-80s Dodge Colt in your race.
Better still is when that Colt boasts a Twin-Stick transmission.
However, serious Chryslerbishi racers skip the front-drivers and go right for the Astron-powered machinery.
For example, one of the greatest Malaise Era MitsuChryslers of all time: the Plymouth Fire Arrow!
The LeMons Supreme Court rolls deep, with this Mercedes-Benz SLS gullwing and the equally cool Sawzall-roadster Plymouth Belvedere serving as co-judgemobiles. I rode from Los Angeles to Northern California with Judge Jonny in the SLS yesterday, and it’s quite a car. The loan of the Mr. Belvedere roadster really rounded out our judicial motor pool for the weekend.
Of course, Sawzalled four-doors have a few safety issues for passengers. Look out for the edges of the sliced pillars!
Speaking of Chrysler products, this 360-powered Duster adds some no-Mitsubishi-nowhere Moparness to the proceedings.
As usual, incomprehensible LeMons rituals abounded.
We’re not quite sure what the connection between scantily-clad naughty nurses and a “shooting brake” Porsche 928 might be, but the other racers enjoyed the spectacle.
On the subject of The Most Depreciated Porsche In History, this race features two 928s. Here’s the Chief Perp expressing his approval of the world’s first 928-versus-Corvair road-race matchup. My money is on the Corvair.
After all the big “Podium For Sale” hooraw after the last Infineon LeMons race, the car in question showed up with an appropriate theme. Here’s Judge Jonny selling 85th place to Dave Swig.
Around the same time, a certain GTI team bribed yours truly with one of the greatest judicial gifts in LeMons history: a diorama modeled after my introductory illustration for the 1965 Impala Hell Project series.
I made this illustration on a very early version of Photoshop in 1993, and I’d have freaked out if I’d known that someday I’d get an incredibly detailed diorama version.
This thing is going front and center on my office desk when I get back to Denver!
LeMons Legend Spank showed up with a pitchforks-and-torches mob escorting his Mini Moke. His Austin America and Turbo Mini weren’t quite ready yet, but we’re sure to see them on the track tomorrow.
No discussion of LeMons Legends is complete without mention of Speedycop, and he’s flown all the way out from Maryland to drive the car that I once raced. He arrived at 4:00 AM and immediately got to work on an excellent re-theme job for the V8 Volvo: Michael Jackson’s Haunted House, complete with huge dead tree poking through a hole in the roof.
Climbing his way into the ranks of the Spank- and Speedycop-grade crazed devoted LeMons Legends is Brandon from Houston. He’s building a W126 Benz LeMons car to go with his 6.9-powered ’67 200 sedan, but the car he chose to drag 2,500 miles from Texas was the engine-eating “Jettarossa.” Will it throw a rod or swallow some valves this time?With 170 entries in this race, it would take me all night to do justice to even a large fraction of the amazing sights I saw Friday, so come back tomorrow for more Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal action.

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Licensed To Ill: Historically Accurate 80s Custom Minitruck Hits Race Track, Has the Boom Sun, 03 Apr 2011 07:00:34 +0000
For several years in the middle part of the 1980s, lowered minitrucks with pastel graphics and booming sound systems were extremely popular. Then, without warning, just about every last one of them disappeared. Where did they go? We can’t say, but we’re pleased to announce that Team Licensed To Ill has brought the custom minitruck back… and thrashed it all weekend at the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons.

Team captain Jesse Cortez grew up in Hayward, California, one of the main epicenters of minitruck madness back in the 1980s, and he has long wanted to do an homage to/parody of the trucks he remembered from the streets of his youth.

The opportunity came when he inherited this S10, which had received a Chevrolet 283 V8 swap in 1983 or so and had been sitting in a garage ever since that time; Jesse’s uncle had planned to make it into a drag truck, but never quite finished the project. There’s no way in hell a 1981 truck with a 1962 V8 engine would ever pass a California emissions test, so the race track was the logical destination.

The team left the engine alone, but they decided to throw a rebuild on the TH350 transmission. Other than driving it up and down the driveway, and one time around the block, the truck hadn’t been driven since Reagan’s first term. The real priority, obviously, was getting the Haywardian 1980s look correct. How about that white Grant steering wheel and pink safety harness?

Nearly the entire $500 LeMons-mandated budget went into the sound system, which added 120 pounds but was totally worth it. 24 Hours of LeMons HQ donated the amplifier from the original Ghost Ride The Whip boombox.

He roll! San Francisco Bay Area residents old enough to remember the mid-1980s ought to recognize those radio-station bumper stickers.

Of course, you can’t have an 80s minitruck with a big sound system without Tigra and Bunny! Jesse’s girlfriend, Bunny Pistol, was happy to be Bunny D for the race.

They like the cars, the cars that go boom!

The team even bribed the LeMons Supreme Court by having “Bunny D” dye my facial hair pink, for enhanced gravitas.

Gravitas indeed.

The Licensed To Ill S10 wasn’t particularly fast around Infineon Raceway (its best lap time of 2:29 was about 15 seconds off the quicker entries), but it turned out to be miraculously reliable for a truck that had spent more than 25 years sitting in a garage, powered by an engine type notorious for LeMons failure. No major mechanical problems all weekend!

Winner of the Most Fantastic Yank Tank trophy. Congratulations, Team Licensed To Ill!

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Molvo! Thu, 31 Mar 2011 21:00:06 +0000
When you’ve got a team of LeMons veterans who have been racing a Volvo 245 wagon since the earliest days of the 24 Hours of LeMons and you want to add a second car to the stable, you’re going to face stern disapproval if that second car happens to be a BMW E30 or a Mazda Miata. Those choices lack imagination! There must be some way to make a Miata fit Bernal Dads Racing’s Volvo-wagon ethos… but what could it be?

Here’s the Bernal Dads’ original race car, a much-scarred veteran of countless Altamont and Thunderhill LeMons events and a true elder statesman of LeMons racing.

Here’s Bernal Dads Racing’s second car, a Miata that made its debut at Thunderhill Raceway for last year’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza. Miatas aren’t really any quicker around a road course than, say, a fifth-gen Civic or Ford Probe, so a Miata isn’t necessarily a threat to run away with a race, but we’d prefer to keep the Spec Miata-ization of LeMons at a minimum. Every Miata or E30 on the track could have been a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz or Simca 1204— or a Volvo 240 wagon— and so the Bernal Dads weren’t able to ward off the razzing over their car choice, in spite of the Volvo grille slapped on the snout.

All that changed at last weekend’s Sears Pointless race. The Bernal Dads have made some changes to their Miata!

Yes, they’ve cut the body off a Volvo 245 and welded it atop a Miata. It’s a three-door, which makes it a Molvo 243.

At first glance, I thought this thing was just a really wonky-looking Volvo wagon; I was busy with other cars during the BS Inspection, so I didn’t grasp what lay beneath the Volvo skin until the next day.

When the Molvo came into the Penalty Box after an on-track mishap, I was puzzled by the bizarre rollcage setup. Then I noticed that this Volvo wagon had a Miata parked inside it. Molvo!

The Molvo finished 73rd out of 173, with a respectable best lap time of 2:20. LeMons HQ staff agonized over the choice of the Molvo versus the Datsun 250 GTO when it came time to pick the Organizer’s Choice award. Actually, the judges of the LeMons Supreme Court were strongly in favor of the Molvo, but it’s Chief Perp Lamm‘s race and he gave the OC to the nearly-as-amazing “Ferrari.” “Fine,” we said, “We’ll give the Judges’ Choice trophy to the Molvo.” And that’s how it worked out. Congratulations, Bernal Dads Racing!

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Make Your Screen Throw a Rod: More Sears Pointless LeMons Photos! Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:09:35 +0000
You’ve read Ed’s writeup of last weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMons race at Infineon Raceway, and now we’ve got more photos of the fender-bashing, engine-trashing action for you!

If our gallery here doesn’t satisfy your LeMons jones, you can always see 1,500 more in the official Über Gallery; if you want to feel as if chunks of Bondo are being hurled right in your face, get out your 3D glasses and check out the 3D Sears Pointless gallery, with 500 stereo photos.

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And the Real Winner Is… Mon, 28 Mar 2011 06:40:13 +0000
Does General Motors have an unfair advantage when it comes to taking the top prize in 24 Hours of LeMons racing? The General’s LeMons soldiers have taken something like a third of all Index of Effluency wins during the course of LeMons racing’s four-year history… and today another GM marque was added to the IOE victors’ list: Opel! The Team Tinyvette 1969 Opel GT took 38th place out of 173 entries, and the team did it with the car’s original 1900cc Opel engine (instead of the Buick V6 that all the other LeMons Opel GTs run). The Opel GT is a genuinely terrible car that has no business doing this well in an endurance race, so Team Tinyvette deserves our respect. Congratulations!

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And the Winner Is… Mon, 28 Mar 2011 06:30:24 +0000
The Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons race was all about a Nissan NX2000 versus BMW 3 Series versus Honda motorcycle-engined Geo Metro battle for quite a while, but black flags on the Nissan and the Geo gave the Spin-N-Out Burger BMW E30 the chance to grab the win on laps. Known as “the invisible E30″ for its smooth, penalty-free driving, POSRacing’s Spin-N-Out car (formerly known as the F’ed Up Express, winner of the 2010 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza LeMons race) takes home another well-deserved trophy. Congratulations, POSRacing!

The prize? $1,500 cash! Well, actually it was $1,500 worth of Russian rubles, in the form of two huge trash bags stuffed with 10-ruble notes. Who says racing doesn’t pay?

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Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Tigra, and Bunny: Sears Pointless BS Inspection Gallery Sat, 26 Mar 2011 06:30:10 +0000
You’ve seen the timelapse video of the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons BS Inspections, but the timelapse camera didn’t capture the twisted cars and car themes we saw Friday.

How many Charlie Sheen themes can you get at one race? We had three.

An Audi GT!

The most accurate mid-80s custom minitruck theme ever, complete with Tigra and Bunny. I’m too tired to write more now, and I’ll be back at the track at oh-dark-thirty AM tomorrow, so here’s a big gallery to keep your LeMons jones under control.

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Endless Lines of $500 Cars Lower Infineon Raceway’s Property Values: BS Inspections of the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons Sat, 26 Mar 2011 06:00:26 +0000
Supposedly we had 185 teams signed up for the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons, which may be a record for road racing, but only 150 or so managed to get their heaps running well enough to make it through the pre-race inspections Friday. “Only” is a relative term, though; scrutinizing 150 terrible clunkers for safety and adherence to the LeMons $500 budget limit makes for a long, long day. Here’s a timelapse video that shows a pretty good fraction of the cars and trucks that streamed past the LeMons Supreme Court today.

Music: Milan Pancevac – Pancevcev Becarac, 1927.

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The 2010 Legends of LeMons: Unununium Medal Winners! Sun, 16 Jan 2011 03:00:52 +0000
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

Unununium Medal Winner: Speedycop and Team Police Brutality

We’ll start with the 2010 Coppa di Bondo (the top Emeryville-issued 24 Hours of LeMons season award) winners and their head madman honcho, Washington DC mounted policeman and Crown Vic drag racer, Speedycop. Police Brutality made quite an impression during the ’09 LeMons season with their insanely-fast-and-unreliable Lincoln Mark VIII and Organizer’s Choice-winning and then-oldest-LeMons-car-ever 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood, but it turned out that Speedycop was just getting warmed up!

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!

Unununium Medal Winner: Spank

Many of you followed the lunatic heroic Citroën DS San Diego-to-Miami road trip that was Spank’s capper to an all-time-great 2010 LeMons season. Let’s look at the achievements that put Spank into Unununium Medal territory:

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 ridiculous awesome cars, the last-second thrashes, the hauls to distant race tracks. For the Sears Pointless race last Spring, Spank showed up with a 1971 Citroën ID19 that had been sitting since the early 1980s. It wasn’t quite running yet when he rolled into the pits, but at least the cage was ready.

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!

Unununium Medal Winner: The Cannonball Bandits

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

Unununium Medal Winner: Dave Morrow/Morrow’s Auto

Dave Morrow’s shop in Pittsburgh must have an unlimited stash of terrible junkers great potential race cars sitting out back, because Morrow’s Auto has managed to bring three of the all-time most startlingly wretched amazing race cars we’ve ever seen dumping fluids on tearing up a race track.

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 worst best possible choices for an endurance racer: The Morrow’s Auto & The Wacky Racers, Penelope Pitstop’s Compact Pussycat Quest for the Holy Nickel Bag Vanagon Wasserboxer-powered Bradley GT!

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!
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Solo Road Trip Heroism: San Diego To Miami In a Caged $500 Citroën Sun, 26 Dec 2010 17:50:14 +0000
Readers of On The Road gush about the incredible asphalt journeys taken by the book’s protagonists, but they did most of their driving in a brand-new Hudson and a brand-new Cadillac limousine. Here is a truly heroic road trip: a solo San Diego-to-Miami drive in a basket-case Citroën ID19 that ran for the first time in 25 years when it clanked a single lap around the Sears Point paddock and then headed onto the track.

Meet Mike Spangler, the man behind the Lunar Rover Mini Moke and turbocharged ’62 Austin Mini race cars. He decided that it would be fun to drive the Citroën— veteran of two incredibly punishing 24 Hours of LeMons races— nearly 3,000 miles to the season-ender LeMons race in Miami.

A single LeMons race generally kills most cars. Honda Civics? Toast. Fox Mustangs? Crusher bait. The Citroën hadn’t even had an oil change since 1985, so Mike decided he’d do some routine maintenance before leaving on his lunatic journey. You know, tune-up, adjust the valves, that kind of thing. Whoops, busted rocker pedestal!

After much thrashing, the car was ready to go this morning at 7:30 PST.

He’s been rolling east for two hours now and the Déesse appears to be running well; he’s made it across the mountains and out of the wet weather. Text message from a minute ago: “4k @ 70mph. climbed into mtns over 4k elevation gain in the rain no prob. Babying throttle because clutch slipped under uphill throttle test last night b4 departure.”

I hope to see the man and the car when I show up in Miami to judge the race. Wish him luck!

Citroën DS 24 Hours of LeMons car, photo by Nick Pon 1226100732 1226100733 1226100823 1226100827 IMG_7663 DSC04467_detail 1226100937_2 1226100932 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 21