The Truth About Cars » Gator-O-Rama The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:00:27 +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 » Gator-O-Rama TTAC 24 Hours Update: The Benz We Didn’t Race And The One We Did Mon, 30 Sep 2013 17:11:14 +0000 benz1

Gorgeous, huh? She appeared in the night like a white-robed dream, resplendent in her restrained livery and requiring just four or five hours of work to be ready to race.

Problem was, the race had already started.

In the upcoming week, you’ll get to hear from each one of the participants in our ill-fated LeMons race, but here are the salient points: The SLC wasn’t ready to race, so we borrowed another Mercedes-Benz that was also not ready to race and a Jetta that probably should not have been racing. We got the Benz ready and it ran for 1.5 laps before it died. Then we got it ready again and it rained.


How many laps did we complete? Not very many. How did we finish? Not well at all. But our rookies have been appropriately blooded, so to speak, and there was more than the usual hilarity and stupidity involved. Watch this space.

Another thing that didn’t happen: our TTAC shirts didn’t arrive. When they do arrive, we will be awarding a total of ten shirts to randomly selected commenters in the original TTAC racing post.

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Field Expedient Engineering: JB Weld Porsche Cylinder Head Repair Thu, 28 Apr 2011 16:57:35 +0000
When your 1980 Porsche 924 craps out minutes after the start of its first race and you’re in rural Texas, parts might be a little hard to find. You won’t get far with a blown head gasket and big ol’ notches burned in the head itself. But, damn, the clock keeps ticking! The Moose Knuckles team called every junkyard within 500 miles, but nobody had any 924 (or Audi 100) cylinder heads. In fact, nobody had ever heard of them furrin thangs.

The Moose Knuckles were able to find a head gasket a few hours’ drive away, but they came up with exactly bupkis on the head. But then one of the guys remembered the fine print on the JB Weld package: Repairs Engine Blocks. Block, head, what’s the difference?

Picking up some JB Weld and JB Kwik, the Moose Knucks got right to work. Sure, combustion-chamber temperatures get higher than the JB Weld-rated 500 degrees F, but we’ve seen such repairs work in the past… on cast-iron heads. What will happen with an aluminum head?

Fill in the holes with that magical gray stuff, sand it down, and slap the head back on the engine. Take the car on the track. Return behind the tow truck. Repeat. Endlessly.

Because the track exit at MSR comes before the transponder loop, and the Moose Knuckles’ Porsche never managed a full lap under its own power, all those laps that ended on the hook didn’t count. Official race results counted the car as a DNS. On the bright side, the Moose Knuckles took home the I Got Screwed award.

Just so you don’t think JB Weld repairs always fail at LeMons races, here’s a JB-patched E30 oil pan from the same race. The car wiped out, bottoming the pan and cracking the hell out of it. Thanks to a generous application of metal-filled epoxy, the car finished the race.

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Strangelovian W110 Thrives On 573 Miles of Full-Throttle Abuse Tue, 01 Mar 2011 14:00:20 +0000
The first Mercedes-Benz W110 to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMons was this ’65 190, and it did very well in spite of having spent many years vegetating in a California field prior to being brought back to life as an endurance racer. Last weekend, we saw another W110; this time it was a ’67 200 that spent a few idle years in Texas before waking up on a race track.

Team B League Film Society – How I Learned To Stop Whining And Love The Judges was expecting to have many problems with their 44-year-old luxury automobile, but only a few fuel-filter-clogging incidents forced the car in for repairs. Otherwise, the car kept going around and around the track (the same could not be said for the team’s other car, a Jetta that blew its engine three laps into prerace practice and got a DNS).

When you bring a car like this to a LeMons race, you really don’t need to decorate the car with a theme like this, but we appreciate the extra effort. That thing on the roof is a replica of the bomb Slim Pickens rode to glory while going toe-to-toe with the Rooskies in nuclear combat in Dr. Strangelove.

Quite an appropriate theme for a Texas race!

The 200 wasn’t particularly quick— in fact, its 2:26.659 best lap was the slowest of the entire 81-entry field— but the team came in 48th place after doing 241 laps at 2.38 miles apiece. That’s 573 miles of about the worst punishment you can dish out to a car; quite an achievement for an elderly sedan that was never meant to go anywhere near a race track!
Photo source: Nick Pon

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And the Real Winner Is… Mon, 28 Feb 2011 00:14:03 +0000
Watching the J30/280ZX/SHO battle for the win on laps this afternoon was pretty exciting, but the Index of Effluency (which goes to the terrible car that accomplishes something orders of magnitude beyond what any sane observer considers possible) is what the true LeMons fanatics care about. A 280ZX coming in first is impressive, but how about an 80-horsepower Toyota Tercel EZ taking tenth place overall? How is that possible?
Team Exhibition Of Slow brought their hacked-up late-80s Tercel EZ— the EZ, as aficionados of rent-a-car-grade econoboxes might recall, is the low-budget/stripper “economy” version of the already miserably underpowered third-gen Tercel, complete with carburetor— and drove it around and around and around the MSR track, all weekend long, and received exactly zero black flags. They beat most of the E30s, all the Mustangs, in fact damn near everything on the track. Definitely one of the easiest IOE choices we’ve ever made. Congratulations, Exhibition Of Slow!

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And the Winner Is… Mon, 28 Feb 2011 00:01:19 +0000
The third annual Gator-O-Rama 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race is in the books, and a 29-year-old Datsun just beat out 80 or so competitors— most of them less than half the Datsun’s age— to bring home the Win On Laps trophy for Team Z-Wrecks.
The GT$500 Celica (itself nearly as old as the Z-Wrecks car) had a commanding lead late in the race, but its 22R engine threw a rod for the second race in a row and the situation devolved into a nail-biting three-way battle between the Swine Flew Raycing Infiniti J30, the Z-Wrecks 280ZX, and the SHOTime Taurus SHO. The ZX opened up a not-so-comfortable lead with several minutes before the end… but then it began losing power due to lack of fuel. Pit stop! The J30 closed to within a half-lap as the Z-Wrecks crew dumped a splash of gas into their car’s tank, but the Infiniti couldn’t quite catch its fellow Nissan and the checkered flag waved for the ancient 280ZX. Congratulations, Z-Wrecks!
Photo by Nick Pon

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Gator-O-Rama LeMons Day One One: Celica, 280ZX, J30, SHO, E30 Make Up Top Five Sun, 27 Feb 2011 03:40:02 +0000
As is typical for races at MSR Houston, the mechanical carnage has been quite extreme. We saw sheared axles, blown head gaskets, thrown rods, and a Jetta with its engine dragging on the pavement (the last one is a first in my experience). Still, some cars haven’t broken, and the battle for the win on laps has been cutthroat; meanwhile, the battle for the Index of Effluency— LeMons racing’s top prize, which goes to the team that accomplishes the most with the worst car— seems to have settled into your classic Tercel-versus-Camaro-versus-W110 slugfest.

It’s probably too early to get serious about the IOE discussion, since the Pontiac Montana may recover from its damage and blow away the competition on Sunday. Let’s discuss the race for the win on laps, which has the GT$500 Toyota Celica leading by a single lap. The GT$500, as you may recall, won the 2009 Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez LeMons and led the 2010 Louisiana event before throwing a connecting rod in spectacular fashion.

In second place, we see the Z-Wrecks Datsun 280ZX. Most observers of LeMons races (me included) feel that a 280ZX cannot take the win on laps, due to innate horribleness, but the veteran Z-Wrecks car, with its excellent drivers and bewildering reliability, may be the only example of the breed that has even the slightest chance. With a crazy-fast best lap of just 1:56.012, the ZX is getting around the track nearly four seconds quicker than the GT$500′s best effort… but reliability and consistency, not raw speed, win endurance races. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

We’re shocked to see a 280ZX in second, but an Infiniti J30 in third is just as startling. The Swine Flew Raycing car has a couple of top-ten LeMons finishes to its credit, and it’s now perched just two laps behind the leader.

We’ve seen a Ford Taurus SHO win a LeMons race before, but mostly we see the SHOs scattering engine and/or transmission parts all over hell. The SHOTime Ford will be threatening the other leaders all day tomorrow… as long as it doesn’t blow up in typical SHO fashion.

So many E30s in the race, but only one in the Top Five. The Theissen’s Revenge car has been breakdown- and penalty-free so far, and only four laps stand between it and the lead.

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Miatas, SHOs, and a Pontiac Montana: The BS Inspections of the 2011 Gator-O-Rama 24 Hours of LeMons Sat, 26 Feb 2011 05:01:00 +0000
The 24 Hours of LeMons has been coming to MSR Houston since 2008, and it has become one of the toughest, most competitive tracks in the series. Out of the 80 or so cars at the third annual Gator-O-Rama inspections today, at least four are former winners and another half-dozen have multiple top-three finishes.

TTAC’s own Sajeev Mehta served as a judge on the LeMons Supreme Court bench and helped us bust numerous cheaty Miatas and Fox Fords. Here we see him wearing a costume celebrating his Indian heritage, a gift from the very culturally sensitive Brian of the Property Devaluation Fairmont wagon team.

The bunny-themed VW Type 3 has an all-woman driver lineup and at least 150 pounds of stuffed animals on the car. Like the Property Devaluation car, this is a former Index of Effluency winner.

The always-in-contention Cajun Coonasses have switched their Saturn SC from a Speed Racer theme to a Rolling Stones “Beast of Burden” theme. We’re all wondering how long those lips will survive on the track.

Looks like Keith needs to get his blood changed again!

The Lambo-doored E30 was a hit with the crowd.

Here’s tomorrow’s pace car! Don’t worry, it’s not racing.

I’m too beat to write much more, so here’s the traditional BS inspection timelapse video. Check in tomorrow for race updates!
Music source:

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