And the Real Winner Is…

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

If you want to contend for 24 Hours of LeMons racing’s top prize, the Index of Effluency, choosing a terrible Malaise Era subcompact gives you a big edge. Choosing a General Motors product also helps. Going with a diesel or, even worse, a Chevette Diesel, means that you pretty much have the Index of Effluency nailed down if you can manage to keep the thing on the track for most of the weekend. Easier said than done, of course, but Zero Budget Racing managed to do just that with their ’82 Chevette Diesel.

This car managed about five laps at its Gingerman debut back in April, limping to an ignominious halt in a cloud of busted-Isuzu-engine smoke while the snowflakes swirled. That’s about what you expect from this sort of car, but Zero Budget didn’t give up. No, they didn’t give up then, and they didn’t give up this Sunday when the mighty 51-horsepower (really!) engine bombed their transmission. Fortunately, the team had thought to bring a spare transmission, and so they got right to swapping it in.

Oh, it was incredibly slow indeed, although the cornering speeds weren’t too bad. In the end, the Zero Budget Racing Chevette managed 39th place (out of about 65 entries), which we think makes it the most reliable (and maybe fastest) Chevette Diesel in history. Congratulations, Zero Budget Racing!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Parkwood60 Parkwood60 on Jul 18, 2011

    How did SpeedyCop and the wagon do? Watching the footage of them caging it with the roof off made me think that GM should have built the El Camino on the full size chassis.

  • Neil Neil on Jul 18, 2011

    Besides blowing out an oil line, breaking a wheel stud, and losing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear in our first transmission, it was...well, somewhat reliable. Let's just say that Zero Budget Racing was glad the race ended when it did. I guess that is true to form for most diesel Chevette experiences ("whew, I cannot believe I made it"). For the record, we passed three vehicles that were still (technically) running. Yup, nearly 200 laps. Relatedly, we are also indebted to our pit neighbors for successfully suggesting that we take their orange triangle "slow moving vehicle" sign. What a freaking fun weekend. PW60: Speedycop finished! His tank/Impala wagon appeared to blow some major (but insignificant for racing, apparently) suspension piece near the end of the race...but it kept going. He was a much deserved winner of some awesome prize. As a followup, SpeedyCop made an extra award for the actual owner of the wagon...out of welded together parts of his wagon. Awesome moment.

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