The Truth About Cars » 24 Hours of LeMons Miami The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:37:06 +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 Miami The 2010 Legends of LeMons: Ununquadium Medal Winners! Mon, 17 Jan 2011 07:00:34 +0000
You have no idea of the agony I went through, narrowing down the Legends of LeMons Unununium Medal winners down to just four recipients. The Ununquadium medal goes to those outstanding 24 Hours of LeMons teams that have attained near-Unununium Legend of LeMons status… and they’ll get their Uuq-287 medals just as soon as we find a way to deal with the 2.6-second half-life.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Eyesore Racing

The only reason that the 2010 Season Champions aren’t taking home Unununium for 2010 is the fact that they ran a Mazda Miata, a car that bores us almost as much as the BMW E30… particularly when the team captain is a Mazda engineer. Otherwise, Eyesore Racing has done everything right; they took first-place honors in two races and second overall in two more, they traveled thousands of miles from their Southern California homes to compete in the Arizona, Colorado, and Florida events, and they totally get LeMons racing.

Unlike most of the other teams that show up to a race gunning for the overall win, Eyesore goes all-out in the theme department, with top-notch car decoration and team costumes. Here’s their Alice In Wonderland theme from the Auction Weekend Gravel-Trap LeMons in Arizona.

For the Goin’ For Broken race, they went with a Star Trek theme.

They were willing to sacrifice some performance by adding the weight of the Enterprise to their car, because they knew it would look great on the track… but they’re also such geeks that they did virtual-wind-tunnel simulations to optimize the aerodynamics of the disc. That pretty much sums up Eyesore right there.

For the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza, they went with an Arabian Nights theme; they also added an extremely unreliable Prelude to their stable, with predictable head-gasket-blowin’ results. Still, the Prelude helped them gain the Western Region points they needed to win the tough West by 14 points over their nearest rival.

For the Buttonwillow race, I tried to talk them into converting their car into Norma Desmond’s Isotta-Fraschini, but they opted for a newer movie.

Fuck yeah!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Misfit Toys Racing

The winner of the Win-A-Wartburg Essay Contest got a ’58 Wartburg 311 and free admission to a future race, and Jim Thwaite of Misfit Toys Racing won handily.

We knew the car was in the right hands when we heard it was getting a rear-mounted Subaru boxer engine and would be entered in the “Trifecta of Crap” (24 Hours of LeMons, the BABE Rally, and the Grassroots Motorsports $2010 Challenge). You can follow the evolution of this amazing project on the LeMons forums and on the Misfit Toys site.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Pendejo Racing

Pendejo Racing has a thing for V12s, as we saw with their “$500 Mercedes-Benz S600″ in ’09. Their Jaguar XJ-S needed only gigantic tires to handle “like a 4,000-pound Miata” at Thunderhill. However, they got tired of changing head gaskets (a typical Jag V12 head gasket lasts about 4 hours on a road course) and decided to upgrade for the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza race.

And what an upgrade! A 1980 Maserati Quattroporte, sort of a semi-rough 100-footer but still bursting with Italian style and passion. Not only did Pendejo allow me and Judge Jonny to take it out on the track, they very considerately reinstalled the butter-yellow leather-and-wood interior after building the roll cage. This ensured that we experienced true Maserati luxury. As Pendejo Seth puts it: “Bragging about winning LeMons is like bragging that you’ve cleaned your toilet twice in one day.”

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Azz Backwards Racing

We were totally unprepared for the Azz Backwards F150 when it rolled up to the tech inspection at the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez LeMons; something looked odd about it at first glance, but what? Then we realized that the “rear” wheels were turned, at which point we discovered that we were looking at a Crown Victoria chassis with backwards-mounted F150 crew-cab body on top. Then we discovered that Azz Backwards Team Captain Nick was the entire team, his flake-azoid teammates having ditched him early in the build process. Yes, he built and raced this mighty machine solo… and we have inside information that the Azz Backwards truck will be nothing next to what he’s building for the ’11 season!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Red Rocket Ratnest Revival

Only one team really challenged Eyesore Racing for the 2010 season points championship (and the free trip to Le Mans that went with it), and they drive a Taurus SHO. Think about that for a second: an example of the most explode-y, rod-throwin’-est, transmission-shreddin’-est type of vehicle ever to race in LeMons was totally sweating the seemingly unstoppable Eyesores, looming in their rear-view mirrors all season (figuratively speaking, of course; the Ratnests race in the Gulf Region and the Eyesores race in the West Region). Not only that, the Ratnests drove their SHO to the Texas races and they drive it on the street between races.

With two overall wins, one second-place and one third-place finish under their belts, the Ratnests went into the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez race in November needing a top-three finish to have a shot at beating Eyesore for the trip to France. As it turned out, the SHO finally blew up, but their great M.A.S.H. theme shows that they’ve stepped up their game to Eyesore levels; we expect RRRR to be top contenders again in 2011.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Team Sleigher

There’s only one team that’s won the Organizer’s Choice trophy as many times as the Unununium Medal-winning Cannonball Bandits, and that’s these guys. In fact, they’re the only team to win both the Organizer’s Choice and the People’s Curse with the same vehicle! They showed up to the Detroit Bull Oil Grand Prix with the #666 car, and it’s always a good sign when you can’t tell what kind of vehicle a LeMons car once was (this is a Mazda MX-6).

It would take me thousands of words to really do justice to the neutron-star-dense grade of awesomeness here. Just look at it! Perhaps the National Day Of Slayer folks might rent this fine machine for their celebrations.

Best of all, the Sleigher Sleigh is street legal and registered and got quite a few street miles prior to the race. Imagine seeing this thing in your rear-view mirror! Ho ho hail Beelzebub!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Rocket Surgery Racing

If you follow LeMons racing long enough, you’ll figure out that we love French cars and we love ill-advised engine swaps. Combine the two and you’ll have a great shot at Legend of LeMons status!

This project, which combined a 1956 Renault 4CV, BMW 1800 suspension, mid-mounted VW Rabbit engine, Audi transaxle, and center driving position, was on the batshit insane ambitious side, and so it goes without saying that the last couple of weeks before the race were a ball-busting, panicky thrash a bit on the stressful side for the Rocket Surgeons. Here we see Team Captain Rich wondering how he’s going to get it all done in time.

When the Rocket Surgery 4CV showed up at the B.F.E. Grand Prix LeMons in Colorado, it still needed about two weeks of work done before it would be trackworthy. That didn’t stop the Surgeons from putting together some excellent Napoleon costumes for the BS Inspection, and then they managed to beat the Renault into shape in several hours. Onto the track and straight to an Index of Effluency win!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Bastardos Too/Blue Oval Cult Racing

Speaking of Terrible French Cars With Ill-Advised Engine Swaps, how about a Renault Dauphine with a mid-mounted Ford Duratec V6? Los Bastardos figured, correctly, that upgrading from 32 to 200 horsepower would be a great idea for their Dauphine.

After a couple of Texas races, the Bastardos haven’t yet been able to get the Dauphine to live up to its potential on the race track, but we expect to see it haulin’ Lone Star ass in 2011. And just for laughs, the same crazy Texans went ahead and dropped a Taurus SHO engine in a Fox Mustang; sure, it blows up like clockwork, but once the bugs are worked out…

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Chris Overzet

Chris and his accomplices have been in LeMons racing since the earliest Altamont races, running a pair of ungodly terrible somewhat battered Hondas. He’s already a lifetime LeMons Legend, but he went Ununquadium last month. For the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza race, Chris brought true luxury to Buttonwillow Raceway.

That’s right, a full-stretch Lincoln Town Car limousine with bachelorette-party theme! Chris let all the LeMons HQ folks take the limo out onto the track, including Judge Jonny, and the Rolling Chicane Racing Lincoln managed to stay on the track for most of the weekend.

There’s also the Arnold’s HummerHonda, complete with real Hummer hood and cigar.

And the Lemon Demolition CRX, which has survived at least 10 LeMons races and is still— sort of— in one piece.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Speed Holes Racing

Bringing an AMC Marlin to a LeMons race catapults a team into stratospheric company, just from the choice of car. Dropping a set-back Chevy 454 and Jaguar rear suspension into a Marlin gets you instant Legend of LeMons status!

Much like their friends on the Rocket Surgery 4CV team, the Speed Holes crew ran the clock right down to the last few minutes before the race, but the car was ready to go when the green flag waved. I had the opportunity to drive this fine race car for a few laps at the B.F.E. Grand Prix and I knew Speed Holes had earned Ununquadium status at that moment.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Race Hard Race Ugly

Only three teams took the win on laps in two races apiece during the 2010 LeMons season, and two of them competed in the super-tough Gulf Region. Race Hard Race Ugly, a team with a pair of maddeningly identical-looking red BMW E30s, edged out Red Rocket Ratnest Revival for the Gulf Region championship.

The Race Hard Race Uglies always run a clean, nearly-black-flag-free race, and we expect them to battle with the Ratnests all season long for the 2011 Gulf Region championship.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Beverly Hellbillies/Death Cab V8olvo

Until the Hellbillies’ 1927 Model T GT showed up at the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza LeMons, the Rocket Surgery Racing 1956 Renault 4CV had been the oldest car in LeMons history. Not only did the T GT look great, it was incredibly quick around the track, setting the quick lap of the race (against 171 other entrants) and taking 8th place overall. That’s what you get when you combine the fabrication skills of old-time hot-rodders Dave Schaible and Fish with the driving talent of some of the top Spec Miata racers in Northern California. You can get the whole story of the Model T GT in my Popular Science piece.

Before there was the T GT, the same bunch of racing miscreants ran the infamous Black Metal V8olvo/Mustard Yellow V8olvo Doing 45 In the Fast Lane/Death Cab For Cutie V8olvo, which contended in every West Coast race during the 2010 season. What’s next for these guys? It’s a secret… but it should be right up there with the next Azz Backwards Racing creation in the awesomeness department.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Special Deliverance

We don’t hate all E30s in LeMons. All you need to do is follow Buford Hogswaller’s lead and build a Bavarian Ranchero!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: E30ata

Another approach is to combine an E30 with a Miata. That’s Ununquadium territory right there!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Charnal House

Ever since the CBR1000-powered Geo Metro Gnome roared right into LeMons Legend status in ’09, rumors have flown about other LeMons Metro-based engine-swap projects. It’s going to be hard to top the madness of the Team Charnal House Taurus SHO-powered, rear-engined Geo Metro, though.

The build quality was a bit, er, rushed, but the Charnal House Metro held together way better than anyone expected. We’d like to see this beast go head-to-head with the Bastardos Dauphine in ’11.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Phoney Express

Covering a ’76 Lincoln Continental with fur and installing a giant horse-and-rider on the roof seems like just the ticket for an endurance race, especially when the car gets driven to and from the track.

This car looked great at the Sears Pointless race, too.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Toxic Asset Racing Program Clown Car

I’m scared of the Clown Car. You should be, too.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Italian Stallions

Why not stuff a Moto Guzzi 1000cc motorcycle engine into your Fiat 600 race car? Index of Effluency for the Stallions!

It had a few overheating problems, but it sounded great and stayed on the track for most of the weekend.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: FireKatz

While we’re on the subject of engine swaps, what would any sane person say to a Pontiac Firebird with an L28T engine out of a Datsun 280ZX Turbo? Who cares what they say— I say it takes home the Ununquadium!

Oh, sure, the FireKatz lived up to their team name, but sometimes earning Legend of LeMons status comes at a price.

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Rust In The Wind

It’s hard to top the FireKatz’s engine swap, but Rust In The Wind may have done so with their Saab Turbo B installation in a Nissan 300ZX, complete with handmade adapter plate and train-whistle blowoff valve.

The Rust In The Wind folks made a nice documentary about their car, just in time for this post!

Ununquadium Medal Winner: Big Ghetto Skank Tank

Instant Legend of LeMons status for this Caprice.

OK, that’s it for the 2010 Legends of LeMons Ununquadium Medal winners. Next up: Ununhexium medals!

Uuq-Wartburg Uuq-Eyesore-ArseSweat-track Uuq-Eyesore-AZ Uuq-Eyesore-FuckYeah Uuq-Eyesore-FuckYeah-Track Uuq-Eyesore-SP Uuq-Eyesore-TH Uuq-Eyesore-TH-Track Uuq-Fiaguzzi Uuq-FiaGuzzi-Engine Uuq-Firekatz Uuq-Firekatz-burning Uuq-GeoSHO-engine Uuq-GeoSho-track Uuq-Marlin Uuq-Marlin-Engine Uuq-Overzet_Limo Uuq-Overzet-Cigar Uuq-Overzet-Demolition Uuq-Overzet-Tattoo Uuq-Pendejo_Jag Uuq-Phoney_Lincoln-Buttonwillow Uuq-Phoney_Lincoln-Infineon Uuq-Quattroporte Uuq-RHRU-FL Uuq-RHRU-NO Uuq-RRRR Uuq-RRRR-MASH Uuq-Saab_300ZX Uuq-SHO-Stang Uuq-Skank_Tank-driver Uuq-Skank_Tank-track Uuq-Sleigher Uuq-Sleigher-Close Uuq-Sleigher-Track Uuq-4CV-Garage Uuq-4CV-Team Uuq-4CV-Track Uuq-Azz_Backwards Uuq-Bavarian_Ranchero Uuq-ClownCar Uuq-Dauphine Uuq-Eyesore-ArseSweat Ununquadium-520px Uuq-Wartburg-rear Uuq-e30ata ModelTGT-V8olvo ModelTGT-Track ]]> 5
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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And the Real Winner Is… Sat, 01 Jan 2011 08:24:08 +0000
Yes, Saab purists, someone has installed an incorrect two-stroke three-cylinder engine in a Saab 96. Well, it’s mostly Saab 96; the Adopted By Jets Saab was assembled from a bunch of random Saab parts found in some Saab fanatic’s back yard. Today, Index of Effluence glory!

The top photo comes from the New England LeMons race in the summer, because I was too busy working the Penalty Box for our 24-straight-hours race to shoot many photos this time around. How about a photo of the melted piston on the engine the 96 started with?

The race ended at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the party began at that moment.

We’re pouring the drinks and readying for an even wilder, more effluent 2011 season!

As for the other major awards: Organizer’s Choice went to the Nutjob Racing New York-themed Honda Wagovan, which was driven to Florida from Brooklyn. Most Heroic went to the amazing Spank and his cross-country-driven Citroën DS (which lost all oil pressure and developed a rod knock midday Friday, but still went out to take the checkered flag at midnight). The I Got Screwed award went to Clueless Racing, whose CRX was neck-and-neck with the winning Probe for most of the race… but then threw a rod with a couple of hours to go.

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And The Winner Is… Sat, 01 Jan 2011 08:05:54 +0000
Yes, somehow a Ford Probe— one of the least reliable cars in 24 Hours of LeMons history— has taken the overall win at a 24 Hours of LeMons race. Not only that, the BoomPowSurprise Probe won by a commanding 32-lap margin, meaning the car could have nuked its engine with nearly an hour to go and still won.

Speaking of nuked engines, here’s what the BoomPowSurprise Probe looked like the last time it was leading a LeMons race. Note the flames under the car. We’ve seen this car in a half-dozen or so events, and we’ve seen it throw rods in just about every one of them. Not this weekend! Congratulations, Team BoomPow Surprise!

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Season-Ending 24 Hours of LeMons Underway In Florida Fri, 31 Dec 2010 06:45:54 +0000
The midnight-to-midnight 2010 season-ender is underway at Palm Beach International Raceway!

Since Glenn Beck and friends got all bent out of shape over the original “Cuba Del Norte” name, the LeMons Supreme Court decided to dress accordingly.

We’ve got four former overall winners here, including West Coast champions Eyesore Racing and the Gulf-dominating Race Hard Race Ugly E30. Race Hard Race Ugly has already lost a rocker arm and is thus using 5/6 of its engine. The rivalries are quite exciting. Well, not really– what’s exciting is the fact that we’ve got a ’62 Plymouth Fury with a 273.

And a Fiat 128 coupe! We’ve also got a 2-stroke Saab 96, the legendary San-Diego-to-Miami Citroën, an LT1-powered Lincoln Town Car, the Azz Backwards pickup truck, and several other great race cars. I’ll post updates as my fatigue and crappy tethered-cell-phone internet connection persists.

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Despite Water Pump Woes, Citroën Hell Road Trip Reaches Louisiana Tue, 28 Dec 2010 18:00:18 +0000
Yesterday morning, it seemed that Spank’s LeMons-veteran ’71 Citroën DS would be stranded in El Paso due to a bad water pump shaft seal. When your car is made out of pure unobtanium, Miami seems much farther than a mere 2,800 miles from San Diego.

The clutch started slipping somewhere in the California desert, Actually, it started slipping during the Sears Pointless LeMons race in March, but it became alarming in the California desert.
Thanks to some help from Quattroporte-drivin’ Pendejo Racing, Spank figured out that the weight of the clutch pedal was overwhelming the weak spring and causing the clutch to disengage slightly. The fix: bungee cord on the pedal!

Things were going fine for a while.

But then Spank’s Honda-motorcycle-radiator-and-AC-condenser-fan heater rig stopped blowing warm air. Uh-oh.

No water! Turns out the Citroën’s water pump shaft seal had let go, causing water to pour out the drain holes designed to keep water out of the bearing. Water was still being pumped, but most of it was being pumped to the wrong place.

After spending the night in El Paso, Spank worked on the car while dozens of LeMons veterans called every auto-parts store and junkyard in West Texas. You want a water pump for a whaaaaat? That’s when the 12-volt RV hot-water pump came into play: just remove the Citroën’s fan belt, block off the pump’s drain holes, and let electricity cool the engine.

Weirdly enough, it worked! As you read this, the Citroën is well into Louisiana on a “no sleep till Miami” run. You can follow the ongoing adventure here, as legions of LeMons racers offer help to heroic solo Citroën road-tripper and Index of Effluency winner Mike Spangler aka Spank in his crazed cross-country journey. And I thought I’d made some epic road trips in hoopty-ass cars— San Francisco to Atlanta in a beater ’65 Impala loaded with all my stuff now seems like nothing!
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