Piston Slap: The Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons Dallas (pt. 1)
While LeMons’ Judges Jonny and Phil took a breather to get married (not to each other) I was one of four people with the honor of taking their place. It’s true, there was a quartet of judges needed to do what those two professionals do on a regular basis, no matter what previous accounts may suggest. So I inspected close to 100 crap cars to see if they meet LeMons’ $500 purchase price criteria. And while I did, I found the Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons. So let’s get right to it.
10. Making a stellar SHO look like Crap (Team: Red Rocket Ratnest Revival, pictured above): Perhaps I got it backward, this car should be in the top spot. This SHO may look like a junker, but it won the race. And the last LeMons race in Houston. And its driven to the past three races (or more) on its own power, with current Texas registration: it passed Judge Scott on his way to the LeMons race in New Orleans. So while team leader and SHO-guru Sergio Perfetti definitely knows his stuff, he keeps it real. Real stock and deceptive. He got out of the judging area with zero penalties, because this motor looks so damn crappy and sounds so damn stock. Nice job, dude.
9. Sable-infused Dauphine (Team: Bastardos De LeMons): Though it snapped a halfshaft before hitting the track, this is still LeMons engineering at its finest: a 1957 Renault Dauphine (found in a field) mated with a (wrecked) 2001 Mercury Sable with the Duratec V6. I’m lucky to get up close to such a remarkable piece of engineering: the custom welded rear subframe was wicked cool on its own. One of these days this 200+ hp Dauphine will tear up the track, and I’d kill to get behind the wheel. Respect.
8. Horn Pad cum Intercom button (Team: El Toro Loco): It used to be that rolling a Taurus SHO to the inspection area was cause for giggles, but no longer. These Bulls get more serious with every race, and the LeMons engineering doesn’t lie. These guys had something really cool in the cabin: the stock wheel was de-bagged and re-wired to activate their in-car communication system. Need to tell your teammates about the jerk who damn near ran you off the track? Honk the horn, start yelling and take the Bull by the horns. Sure this SHO has a Yamaha under the hood, but there’s pure genius in the cabin.
7. Homemade BMW E21 strut tower brace (Team: Live Oak Nudist Resort II): That right, a group of Nudists campaign two LeMons racecars. Thankfully, they remained clothed throughout the entire race, hopefully they did the same when making this bar: check out those welds where the tube meets the strut tower. Perhaps the threaded pipe gives extra surface area to the welds for a stronger hold? But seriously, the team went out of their way to point the adjustable nature (see the center section) of the strut tower, meaning that if/when this BMW bites the dust, they can put this masterpiece on another ride. Sweet.
6. Small Block Chevy in a 300ZX (Team Clunker): Its no surprise that Nissan Z-31s are an absolute joke in these races, with too much weight and not nearly enough grunt from a three-liter motor. So why not narrow the gap, swapping in a small block Chevy? But avoid putting on an Edelbrock intake, as that clearly surpasses the car’s expected $500 price tag. The painted on dirt (a la scale models with brown dirt paint on the fenders) didn’t fool anyone, and upset the judges’ sensibilities to no end. Not that I disapprove of the vehicle: this conversion isn’t an overnight affair, but these guys got extra grief for leaking fuel at inspection. And if I recall correctly, it received multiple black flags on the track, probably leaking other fluids in the process. But still, a small block V8 swap on a LeMons budget is totally FTW. And that’s it for now, stay tuned for the next installment of Piston Slap. We’ll cover the last 5, and I’m sure you’ll truly enjoy it!
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Boo! I was hoping for the full list! I've been following the LeMons on the interwebs with interest for years... too bad they don't have them on TV... It's a wonder Discovery doesn't pick it up... it's Junkyard Wars cum Mythbusters cum NASCAR... all rolled into one. Some of those things are beautiful... and some of the builds on others are outrageous (and so obviously over-budget, it's amazing what you can get away with if you own your own machine-shop...)
Jalopnik has the full list, and quite frankly, my LeMons coverage isn't intended to step on their work. I'm a product design guy, not a hardcore race fan. Hence why I do what I do on Piston Slap.