The Truth About Cars » BFE GP The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +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 » BFE GP And the Real Winner Is… Mon, 11 Jul 2011 01:17:07 +0000
When a first-time 24 Hours of LeMons team finds some ancient hooptie that’s been rusting in a field for a decade and makes a “race car” out of it, most of the time that team spends the entire weekend thrashing on fuel-system components, shriveled transmission seals, and rodent-gnawed wiring. This did not happen with Team NASA’s Space-Shuttle-themed 1978 Ford LTD wagon.

The old Ford was quite slow, what with its original shocks and Malaise-grade 400M engine, but its drivers kept out of the way of the faster cars and never once visited the Penalty Box. Other than an hour-long pit stop to deal with a vapor-lock/dead-starter problem, the wagon never broke down; the team rebuilt the entire fuel system with fresh parts and thus avoided the bad-gas adventures of the Tunachuckers’ ’75 Ford LTD Landau that we saw last month. In the end, the NASA LTD finished in 34th place (out of 56 entries), a miraculous performance from a dead-stock Malaise wagon. Congratulations, Team NASA!
Note: For more B.F.E. GP adventures, check out Longroofian’s coverage over at Hooniverse.

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And the Winner Is… Mon, 11 Jul 2011 01:00:01 +0000
At the end of yesterday’s race session, it appeared that we had a Stealth-626-Supra battle for the B.F.E. GP win on laps. All day today, however, the Ghetto Motorsports Mazda RX-7 (winner of the 2010 B.F.E. GP, not to mention the LeMons Mountain Region championship) kept creeping up on the 1-2-3 cars.

Late in today’s race session, Ghetto Motorsports took the lead, grabbing the second-quickest lap time of the race in the process (the quickest lap was turned by the heavily-BS-lap-zapped turbocharged B18C-engined Civic of Casino Racing). When the checkered flag waved, Ghetto Motorsports had a little over a one-lap lead on the second-place car… and needed every bit of that lead, because its ignition coil crapped out right at the end. Congratulations, Ghetto Motorsports!
Note: For more B.F.E. GP adventures, check out Longroofian’s coverage over at Hooniverse.

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B.F.E. GP LeMons Day One Roundup: Dodge Stealth Leads, 626 and Supra Close Behind Sun, 10 Jul 2011 05:29:31 +0000
Today’s race session ended about an hour earlier than planned, thanks to a wild Great Plains lightning storm that threatened to vaporize and/or float away the corner workers. Some LeMons races have a team that grabs and early lead and never relinquishes it, while others feature a three- or four-way battle with endless lead changes. Today was the latter type, with the Ghetto Motorsports RX-7 dueling with the Marvin Martian Saab 9000 for the first position for most of the early going and a trio of Japanese machines swooping in when the Saab popped an oil line and the RX-7 caught a few black flags.

Here’s something I never thought I’d see: after a full day of racing, a 2WD Dodge Stealth leads by a lap. On paper, the Mitsubishi 3000GT looks like a good low-buck race car… but then so do the Starion and Eclipse. In practice, Mitsubishi is the least reliable marque in LeMons racing, and the Stealth/3000GT has been soul-crushingly awful in race after race after race. The Team U-Boat Stealth is quick and— so far— black flag-free, so all the team has to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing… and not break the car.

If the U-Boat stumbles in any way, the Plan B Racing “M626″ BMW 2002-ified Mazda 626 is poised to swipe the lead away. Plan B’s quickest lap is nearly two seconds slower than the Stealth’s best lap, but consistency wins endurance races. Mazdas have done very well in LeMons racing… with the exception of the 626. Will this one prove that Mazdas other than Proteges, Miatas, and RX-7s can take a LeMons win on laps? We’ll see tomorrow.

On the same lap as the 626, the 1988 Toyota Supra Turbo of Team Japanese Zeros looms nearly as large in the U-Boat’s rearview as the Mazda. Turbo Supras have a spectacularly poor reliability record in LeMons, but you just never know what might happen on the race track.

But the race for the overall win is actually pretty boring compared to the other stuff going on at High Plains Raceway this weekend. The twin-supercharged AMC Marlin of Speed Holes Racing spent all morning and much of the afternoon in a billion pieces, suffering from various fuel- and ignition-related maladies. Things seemed to be looking up for the Speed Holians, but then we heard a tremendous explosion and saw an ominous column of smoke from their paddock space. Blower explosion! Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the twin-supercharger assembly had to be removed.

Yes, backfires with a draw-through blower setup can be disastrous. Here’s the broken weld on the blower plenum.

The Index of Effluency chase has been very exciting. The NASA ’78 LTD wagon hasn’t missed a beat yet, cruising through a day of leisurely, trouble-free laps. This car is incredibly, staggeringly slow (the slowest thing on the track by a good 20 seconds a lap), but was still right about mid-pack at the end of the day’s session. How much higher must it climb in the standings to grab the top prize of LeMons racing? Good question!

The Time Travelers of Doom Fiero has shocked everyone by being both fast and reliable. Sure, it does have a 3.4 liter Chevy Lumina engine in the back, but we’ve seen all manner of engine-swapped Fieros fail miserably in LeMons. This team has earned itself a place in the Index of Effluency conversation, for sure.

The Petty Cash Racing Jeep Cherokee won the IOE at the Goin’ For Broken race in May by coming in 14th overall. That was an amazing accomplishment, but at this moment the Jeep stands in fifth place in the B.F.E. standings. Yes, an AMC-powered, solid-front-axle truck is beating all the E30s, Civics, and Porsches in the race. Is it possible to win the IOE twice with the same vehicle? Anything can happen in a LeMons race!

The Jeep had its grille fall off halfway through the race session, but it didn’t get run over by other cars and the guys in the wrecker fetched it from the weeds after an hour or so. Zip-tie time!

We’ve been making miscreant drivers decorate the Volvo 244 Turbo Judgemobile. JudgemoVolvo! Check in tomorrow for the winner posts and— if time and spotty internet service permit— mid-race updates.

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Space Shuttle LTD, Sullen French Rebels, and Endless Audis: BS Inspections of the B.F.E. GP 24 Hours of LeMons Sat, 09 Jul 2011 06:13:33 +0000
The second annual B.F.E. GP, which takes place at High Plains Raceway (located somewhere in the Great Plains between Denver and Kansas), kicked off today with the traditional Friday tech and BS inspections. This weekend’s field may have the highest concentration of German iron ever seen at a 24 Hours of LeMons race, with what seemed like about half the entries bearing Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW, or Audi emblems.

In addition to a couple of Audi Quattro 20-valve cars, a pair of VR6 Volkswagens, and the usual Porsche 944s, we had this parade-float-ized Porsche 928. This is the third 928 to race in LeMons, and they’ve been more reliable than most of the 914s, 924s, and 944s.

Of course, if something does go wrong with a 928… well, it probably won’t be fixed in a hurry.

The Index of Effluency winner at last year’s B.F.E. GP, the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-VW-engined Renault 4CV, now has an excellent hipster/rat rod/Billetproof theme.

The co-captains of the Texas-based Tetanus Neon team (yes, the same Neon that Mr. Baruth drove) have flown out from Houston to join the Coloradans responsible for the 4CV. The car is much better sorted out than last year, with a few more horses behind the driver’s seat, so it will need to claw its way pretty high in the standings to get a shot at an unprecedented second IOE.

Speaking of Index of Effluency contenders, the vast bulk and 150-horsepower 400-cubic-inch engine of this Space Shuttle-themed Ford LTD makes this wagon a huge IOE threat.

It’s also a serious Organizer’s Choice contender, for obvious reasons.

You’d think that a Plymouth Sapporo with a Fukushima Cleanup Crew theme would be able to go toe-to-toe with the LTD in the IOE race… but this Sapporo has had its Mitsubishi engine replaced by a Toyota 22R. Not that the Toyota R has been particularly reliable in LeMons racing (it tends to throw rods), but de-Mitsu-izing any car distances it somewhat from IOE contention. We’ll see what happens tomorrow!

Captain Fiero!

The Mini Moke of Legend of LeMons Unununium Medal Winner Spank was hauled all the way from San Diego— that’s about 1,100 miles, over two mountain ranges— and now sports a whitewater rafting theme.

With so many IOE and Organizer’s Choice contenders, we’ve got a real embarrassment of riches. On top of everything else, there’s the twin-supercharged 454-powered AMC Marlin of Speed Holes Racing, which now features a “Murilee Marlin” theme and a hat and mustache that look disturbing similar to the ones I wear for my job as LeMons Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Yeah, this stuff gets weirder all the time.

Does this setup make enough power to fry the Marlin’s Jaguar XJ-6 rear end? We don’t care, because it sounds beautiful!

RX-7s are great race cars, but the Mazda rotary engines suffer from reliability problems. The solution: Mazda B engine out of a Miata.

This team has by far the best Gong Show theme we’ve ever seen in LeMons.

OK, so it’s also the only Gong Show theme we’ve ever seen in LeMons, but as the Chief Perp said, “This team really raises the bar.”

We have the use of an excellent turbocharged Judgemobile for the weekend.

The Salt Lake City-based twin-engined MRolla is yet another IOE powerhouse. We’ll have some tough decisions to make on Sunday afternoon. Check in tomorrow night for a standings update!

In the meantime, enjoy this timelapse video that compresses about seven hours of inspections into four minutes.

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Because 454 Cubic Inches Just Isn’t Enough: AMC Marlin Racer Gets Twin Superchargers Tue, 28 Jun 2011 15:00:06 +0000
The Speed Holes Racing AMC Marlin took home the Organizer’s Choice award at last year’s Colorado 24 Hours of LeMons race, because A) it has a 454 yanked from a wrecked GMC truck set back about three feet from the Marlin’s normal engine location, B) it has a Jaguar XJ6 rear suspension and differential, C) it has hundreds of speed holes punched into the body and, most of all, D) it’s an AMC Marlin. The Marlin wasn’t exactly fast (the tall Jaguar gears and very tired 300,000-mile EFI small-valve engine didn’t make for great acceleration out of the turns), but the handling was surprisingly good for such a big car. For the 2011 B.F.E. GP, Speed Holes Racing decided that more power would be needed.

The LeMons Supreme Court gave Speed Holes a generous residual value after last year’s race, allowing them to dump another few hundred bucks into the car. Changing the differential gearing from 2.75:1 to 3.73:1 will help de-dog-ify the acceleration at hilly, oxygen-poor High Plains Raceway. Adding forced induction should cause the engine to spray connecting rods in all directions alleviate the oxygen-shortage problem.

In charge of this upgrade is Speed Holes Racing team captain Cadillac Bob. Cheap junkyard superchargers are easily obtained, as long as you go for a Toyota Previa centrifugal blower or a GM 3800 V6 Roots blower. Bob went for the latter option, figuring a pair of superchargers meant for an engine of 231 cubic inches displacement apiece should be just about right for a single engine displacing 454 cubes.

The plan is to push about 5 PSI of boost down the factory throttle body, using this industrial pressure gauge to keep the driver in the know.

Bob fabricated a plenum and mounted the blowers backwards on its sides. The compressed air will come out the top, once he cuts a hole and mounts a flange for ducting.

Because the supercharger input shafts will now rotate backwards, Bob had to do some surgery to flip the internal drive gears around and keep the vanes rotating in the correct direction.

The nice part about this setup is that removal of the entire supercharger assembly should be pretty quick, when if something goes wrong with one or both of the blowers at the track.

Meanwhile, Bob’s shop has filled up with projects. In the foreground is a LeMons-bound Jetta that needed its janky cage fixed. In the background is my ’66 A100 van, which is getting new axle kingpins.

In the rafters of the shop, an early-60s-vintage rail dragster.

Beneath the dragster, a seriously chopped Coupe DeVille.

Nearby sits an old-timey hot-rodded Model A four-cylinder engine, awaiting installation into Bob’s super-slammed Ford coupe.

What sort of car should receive this WW2 military-issue Cadillac flathead V8?

The B.F.E. GP takes place weekend after next, so there’s plenty to do between now and the green flag. Still, compared to last years’ panic-stricken thrash, this time around should be a walk in the park. I look forward to hearing those blowers screaming on the race track!

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