The Truth About Cars » 24 Hours of LeMons Thunderhill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 07 Dec 2014 13:37:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (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 Thunderhill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com And the Real Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-real-winner-is-18/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-real-winner-is-18/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:35:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406223 40-year-old cars have an edge on the Index of Effluency, LeMons racing’s top prize. Chrysler products also have an edge. And, of course, French cars have a huge edge on the IOE. When you race a car that’s simultaneously 40 years old, a Chrysler, and French… well, just keep it running most of the weekend […]

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40-year-old cars have an edge on the Index of Effluency, LeMons racing’s top prize. Chrysler products also have an edge. And, of course, French cars have a huge edge on the IOE. When you race a car that’s simultaneously 40 years old, a Chrysler, and French… well, just keep it running most of the weekend and the big trophy is likely to go home with you.

The SimcaCUDA, aka Le Mopar, is a 1971 Simca 1204, which could be purchased in Chrysler showrooms back in the day alongside rebadged Hillman Avengers and rebadged Mitsubishi Galants. What kind of madman would dare to race such a terrible car at brutal, hilly Thunderhill Raceway? We’re talking about Unununium Legend of LeMons honoree Spank, of course. This is Spank’s third Index of Effluency trophy, following his 998cc Austin Mini’s win at the ’09 Buttonwillow Histrionics and his 1971 Citroën ID19’s win at the ’10 Sears Pointless race (he went on to drive the Citroën from San Diego to Miami, in order to race it at the ’10 LeMons season-ender, so you know we’re dealing with a serious madman here).

The best part about the SimcaCUDA’s Index of Effluency win today is that second-place Eyesore Racing ran out of gas on the checkered-flag lap and was pushed across the finish line by the Simca (thanks to Dave Coleman for the photo). Congratulations, Le Mopar!

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-19/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-19/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:15:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406217 While today’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza winner on laps is indeed the same Honda-motorcycle-engined Geo Metro that won the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza, it’s really a much different car now. In ’08, the Geo Player Special (then known as the Metro Gnome) had the CBR900RR engine driving the front wheels, via an ingenious chain drive that used a […]

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While today’s Arse Sweat-a-Palooza winner on laps is indeed the same Honda-motorcycle-engined Geo Metro that won the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza, it’s really a much different car now. In ’08, the Geo Player Special (then known as the Metro Gnome) had the CBR900RR engine driving the front wheels, via an ingenious chain drive that used a toilet plunger as a grease seal. Since that time, the engine— now a CBR1000— has been moved back and now drives the rear wheels.

This car has been running the rear-engine/rear-drive configuration for a couple of years now and had been quite close to an overall win on several occasions. Today, it all came together for the Metro. Congratulations, Geo Player Special!

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Arse Sweat-a-Palooza Day One: Model T GT Leads, Usual Suspects Close Behind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/arse-sweat-a-palooza-day-one-model-t-gt-leads-usual-suspects-close-behind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/arse-sweat-a-palooza-day-one-model-t-gt-leads-usual-suspects-close-behind/#comments Sun, 07 Aug 2011 04:06:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406063 Were a reality show being made about the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza 24 Hours of LeMons, the old-time hot-rodder crew and Spec Miata-champion drivers on the Model T GT team, just off their triumph of a feature in Hot Rod magazine, would be the dramatic focus for sure— the 302-powered ’27 Ford ended the day’s race session […]

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Were a reality show being made about the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza 24 Hours of LeMons, the old-time hot-rodder crew and Spec Miata-champion drivers on the Model T GT team, just off their triumph of a feature in Hot Rod magazine, would be the dramatic focus for sure— the 302-powered ’27 Ford ended the day’s race session in first position. However, there are three former LeMons winners within a single lap of the Model T GT… and the T’s flimsy Mustang T-5 transmission is stuck in fourth gear and showing every sign of impending total disintegration.

The T-5 has proven itself to be an extremely fragile transmission in LeMons racing, and this isn’t the first time the T GT guys have suffered from transmission woes. Even if the gearbox holds together all day tomorrow, the several seconds per lap that its current single-speed nature costs the Ford makes it inevitable that Ununquadium Legend of LeMons and 2010 Season Champions Eyesore Racing will catch them. At this point, the Eyesore Playboy Miata sits about a half-lap behind the ’27. Of course, the Eyesoremobile has been known to suffer from mechanical woes itself, and sometimes the drivers screw up and get black-flagged out of the running. Not often, but you just never know.

If both the Eyesores and the Model T GT falter, the Geo Player Special CBR1000-engined Geo Metro, winner of the ’08 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at this very same track, ended the day breathing down the Eyesore Miata’s neck. 199 laps for the Miata, 199 laps for the Metro. Also at 199 laps: the Altamont ’08 LeMons winning Krider Racing Integra.

In case that cluster of perennial LeMons contenders falls behind, a whole mess of German machinery lurks about five laps back, waiting for their shot. A few E30s, a Porsche 944, and the If It’s Not Punk It’s Junk 5 Series.

After a half-dozen or so very frustrating races, the Angry Hamster Honda Z600 (a car I believe to be the best-engineered LeMons car ever built) is finally holding together long enough to rack up respectable lap numbers. 18th place overall, out of 120 or so entries, and putting down some fairly quick lap times. Tomorrow, everyone gets back onto the track and continues where they left off.

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Hugh Hefner, Rod Rats, and a Tube-Framed Lloyd: BS Inspections of the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza 24 Hours of LeMons http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/hugh-hefner-rod-rats-and-a-tube-framed-lloyd-bs-inspections-of-the-arse-sweat-a-palooza-24-hours-of-lemons/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/hugh-hefner-rod-rats-and-a-tube-framed-lloyd-bs-inspections-of-the-arse-sweat-a-palooza-24-hours-of-lemons/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2011 01:28:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406003 I came down with some sort of terrible New England vasculo-plague at the Boston Tow Party race, and so the croakers said I couldn’t travel to hot, sticky Thunderhill Raceway in California for the second annual Arse Sweat-a-Palooza. Bummer! That doesn’t mean you won’t get to see who and what are racing this weekend, however, […]

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I came down with some sort of terrible New England vasculo-plague at the Boston Tow Party race, and so the croakers said I couldn’t travel to hot, sticky Thunderhill Raceway in California for the second annual Arse Sweat-a-Palooza. Bummer! That doesn’t mean you won’t get to see who and what are racing this weekend, however, because Assistant Perp Nick Pon was kind enough to send in his photos of today’s car inspections.

Judge Armand had the privilege of meeting the female members of the now-Playboy-themed Eyesore Racing, 2010 LeMons Intergalactic Super-Champions. Yes, they can drive… faster than you, suckaz!

In case you were wondering what the members of the LeMons HQ staff choose to drive the 150 miles to the track, here’s a typical pair of daily drivers for the folks that run the event.

The team that created the Bavarian Ranchero has raised the madness level with their latest racer: a tube-framed, motorcycle-engined Lloyd Hansa Alexander. Experience has shown that all such cars struggle to make any laps at all during their first event, but we’re hoping things will be different for the Lloyd… because it’s a Lloyd!

Fresh from the triumph of their feature in the latest issue of Hot Rod (sorry, not available online yet), the members of the Model T GT team have gone with the “rat rod” look for their outfits. Sure, triple-digit temperatures might make those rat costumes a bit sweaty, but sometimes racers need to make sacrifices for the sake of image.

It’s always good to see the teams registering while in uniform.

The Space Shuttle-themed LeMons teams just keep getting better and better.

Legend of LeMons Speedycop just had to come out to California and race where the whole LeMons thing got started, and so he bought the Death Cab V8olvo, which is actually the descendant of my old race car, from the days when I was a black-flag recipient rather than a race official.

Of course, the Ford 302 engine that was once in the V8olvo ended up powering the Model T GT, which meant that Speedycop and henchmen had to find a basket-case engine-donor Mustang the day before the race and do a last-second-frantic thrash to get the V8olvo in semi-driving condition. Will it run? Who can say?

The 283-powered Chevy S10 with full 1985-custom-minitruck regalia has even more boom in the bed this time. Ideally, it will be audible from any location on the track.

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The 2010 Legends of LeMons: Unununium Medal Winners! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/the-2010-legends-of-lemons-unununium-medal-winners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/the-2010-legends-of-lemons-unununium-medal-winners/#comments Sun, 16 Jan 2011 03:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=380539 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 […]

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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.

Busted!

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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