NSF Racing Plymouth Fury Does 218 Laps, Breaks Down 219 Times, Still Triumphs

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
nsf racing plymouth fury does 218 laps breaks down 219 times still triumphs

Y’all know that the NSF Racing 1962 Plymouth took the top prize at the Southern Discomfort 24 Hours of LeMons last month, but some of you may be wondering how the Fury managed to beat out the Sputnik ’86 Nissan Stanza wagon (441 laps) or the Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws Parnelli Jones Galaxie (243 laps) for the Index of Effluency. Clearly, I have failed in expressing just how unspeakably terrible this car really is, and thus what a monumental achievement its 218 laps around the Carolina Motorsports Park road course really was.

This car sat in a swampy field in Florida for decades before being dragged off by the NSF racing guys (their previous car, a CRX, failed so miserably that they were forced to put their very nice 392 Hemi-powered 1951 Chrysler Saratoga Carrera Panamericana car onto a LeMons track last year— accepting 392 penalty laps— in order to get some seat time). It has rust in places you wouldn’t expect rust on a car; only the roll cage keeps it from breaking in several pieces on the race track. The NSF Racing Fury was such an overachiever.

Chrysler didn’t see fit to install any sort of sway bar on the ’62 Fury, and NSF Racing figured they’d be just fine with authentic 60s-vintage body roll. Here’s the Fury negotiating Turn 1 at, oh, 20 MPH. Damn, ran out of pavement again!

The real problems, however, lay under the hood. The incredibly decrepit 340 engine was about what you’d expect from a 400,000-mile Detroit V8 with random junkyard carburetor and ignition system. Sure, the 340 is a great engine, but not when it’s this loose. The oil blowby was so bad that Race Control was black-flagging the super-smoky Fury off the track every few minutes. A lot of LeMons cars make some fairly severe smoke, so you have to be a real overachiever to lay down a smokescreen bad enough to be considered a visibility hazard on a LeMons track.

NSF Racing did their best with the oil-spewing problems, valiantly battling one leak point after another. We made it very clear that we wouldn’t accept a milk-jug-and-heater-hose oil-recovery system, so they changed the valve cover gaskets, added extra PCV valves and vacuum lines to try to recycle the oil by burning it, everything you can think of.

The transmission, brakes, steering, seat mounting brackets, and many other components also acted up, which meant that the Fury would get out onto the track, do about a half-lap, and then get black-flagged back in for some egregious mechanical malfunction. Pit stop!

LeMons Chief Perp Jay Lamm insisted on testing out the brakes before letting NSF Racing back on the track, and he returned from a brief drive with the instructions “Replace every component in the brake system and I’ll let you back on the track.” That’s just what NSF Racing did!

Yes, it was the slowest and most unreliable vehicle on the track, but the team never gave up and the laps began to mount. Next race, they’ve decided to go with a bigger engine. In fact, they’re going with a Mercedes-Benz 6.9 sedan!

The Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws Galaxie had a best lap time a full ten seconds quicker than the Fury, which was quite impressive given the terribleness of the Galaxie. Not quite as bad as the Fury, but definitely a total Bondo-coated heap under its pretty paint job. The Galaxie still has a shot at the IOE, by the way (in spite of its recently upgraded suspension)… and you could be one of the drivers! Speedycop is recruiting drivers for his three-car assault on the Real Hoopties of New Jersey 24 Hours of LeMons event in New Jersey next month, and 600 bucks buys you a spot behind the wheel. Those of you who have done any kind of road racing know what a steal that is.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Texan01 Texan01 on Mar 20, 2011

    Say what you will about the body roll, it looks no less ponderous on the track than the 70s Celica in the one picture.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Mar 21, 2011

    Sheesh, Murilee, that's amazing!!! I didn't know the National Science Foundation was running a car in LeMons. And a '62 Fury! Only the NSF could pull it off.

    It was a weird looking car then--beyond the first standard deviation, maybe even beyond the second, and it's just as weird now as it was then! The music teacher at my elementary school--who was the mother of one of my friends, actually had one of those, so I've ridden it it.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping on bringing us such a wonderful cast of automotive characters! I may try to make the Hoopties of New Jersey. And, actually, three people I know here in the Boston area are thinking of entering. One definitely has the equipment to pull it off. He was inspired when I sent him the article you wrote about the '65 Mercedes.

  • Duane Baldinger Ya my cupcake Mailman will love it!
  • Duane Baldinger Where can I send the cash? It's a surprise BDAY present for my cupcake Mailman. D Duane
  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.