B.F.E. GP LeMons Day One Roundup: Dodge Stealth Leads, 626 and Supra Close Behind

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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 10, 2011

    Meanwhile I had a productive day of wrenching on the Malaise Era Masterpiece in my driveway this afternoon. Removing the AC system and all the smog pump and adding low buck hood and trunk pins. We have got a theme, and bribes you are going to love too. I can't wait for arse freeze a palooza.

  • Obbop Obbop on Jul 10, 2011

    I added another recent event in my blog that is generally ignored by an incredibly HUGE number of humans. The History Reenacted" blog, not the Disgruntled Old Coot offering whose main offering is a Coot Closet.

  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.
  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?