Vellum Venom Vignette: Art and Design at The 24 Hours of LeMons 2013

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom vignette art and design at the 24 hours of lemons 2013

My worst moment at the College for Creative Studies was during Portfolio Review: a presentation of one’s body of work since the beginning of the semester. So it comes as no surprise that my favorite parts of a LeMons race is judging the artistic(?) themes of the cheaty $500 race cars in attendance. Let’s combine the two for this quick vignette into an alternate world of automotive design: come up with a moderately creative theme, say or do something idiotic, make me laugh and perhaps I’ll forget about that fancy header…or those super cheaty shocks that supposedly “came with the car.”

Did you really think that car design ends in the studio?

A 1990’s Pontiac Trans Am is a great canvas. This aftermarket(?) hood works well with the warning sign cribbed from an OSHA-compliant industrial zone. It’s mounted and cut in a way to harmonize with the body’s cut lines…for a reason…

Right. A toxic waste of a machine. Also note the sweet T-top covers.

Major props for the Terminator 2 style dying hand in a pit of goo! This was a great theme that made good use of the Firebird’s real estate. This was a short and sweet Portfolio Review, also because F-bodies are so horrible in LeMons!

The Tow-Mater themed Miata is a local favorite. “His” eyeballs went up for this LeMons race, as it was a full 24 hour running. While not as cute with those square headlights in play, this team did a fantastic job impersonating the vehicle of many a kid’s fancy: check out the weathered paint on the door! And since this Miata is only moderately cheaty with good-natured racers in tow, well, it’s hard to hammer them too hard during their Portfolio Review.

Yup, Escort Service. You just know these guys will fare well in their Portfolio Review. Because this is probably painted on a…

Ford Escort. While this platform has uber LeMons potential with enough cheating and a decent crew, many an E30 must die in the paddock before it’ll ever win. Combine that with the truly tasteless (yet clever) theme involving the famous Escort name…yeah, they got off easy. Ish.

This Shelby (yes, Shelby!) Daytona Z made plenty of friends at the race. Usually Engineers aren’t the most creative with themes…but…

Okay, this isn’t especially clever, but mechanical engineering formulas/jargon on a car tuned by Shelby himself is entertaining. Because we all owe so much to Nikolaus A. Otto!

Supposedly that’s the formula for an automobile’s exhaust composition. Some of the elements look right to my unverified eyeballs, but it didn’t help this Shelby. It barely ran long enough to produce said byproduct of the Otto Combustion Cycle.

Beaker from the Muppets sealed the deal: this Shelby sailed through its Portfolio Review easily. Great theme on a horrible K-car! How could it NOT dominate the slowest class in LeMons??? (It didn’t, remember it’s still a K-car.)

I had to dress up for my Portfolio Review, so I appreciate it when racers do the same. Kudos to the flying sausages!

Great artwork too, by the way. Someone definitely listened to Rob Zombie when they attacked the hood of this Porker.

Ditto this Toyota Supra with the Texas flag on the hood, made out of Shiner Beer bottle caps. Passed Portfolio Review with flying colors!

They say it’s Chuck Norris, I think it’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad! Plus it’s an E30, so this Portfolio Review might go poorly!

This Buick Century was “hand painted” in support of a local charity in Austin. Part horrible Art Car, part horrible LeMons racer. I LOVED IT.

How can you say no to a vehicle with this much style? With a suspension so soft that the rear sloshes in harmony with the front when you push down on the front bumper? It literally felt like a water bed with no internal baffles. Sailed right through the Portfolio Review!

Pretty obvious, but totally worth a laugh on inappropriateness alone. But this was (IIRC) a super-cheaty Integra, and no amount of low-brow humor can overcome that!

A brilliantly executed theme on a VW you’d otherwise forget.

Slapping a mannequin onto a Honda Civic does not a good theme make, but seeing the underwear’s collection of track filth netted a hearty laugh.

Plus it’s a Honda Civic, so it’ll be driven waaaay too hard and the head gasket will go explodey…Portfolio Review, Passed!

One of my favorite cars is next. This Ford Probe is an eye catcher in the world of crap cars for a good reason! Note the attention to detail in the paintwork and the craftsmanship in the spoiler made of license plates.

Retaining the (rather cool when new) Probe SE graphic in your custom LeMons mural? Brilliant!

Even their name has some style…even if “some other guys” kinda ruined it.

Considering Houston is the home of the Art Car scene, this Probe does a good job mocking the genre. Or is it paying homage?

And lastly, the Probe’s roof. Michaelangelo would be proud…except not.

If Upton Sinclair ever ironically drove a Dodge Neon race car in the Land of Steakhouses…

A truly horrible theme for an increasingly less horrible LeMons racer. At least the team (all two of them) dressed to match the Gas Monkey thing. This Datsun roadster is all-electric, and considering its terrible (but ever improving) on-track performance, “aping” a horrible TV show that grows on you…well, it totally made sense. What’s that sound that Richard Rawlings always makes? Wow-ooooh!

Because Barbie always wanted a GMC Caballero. Did they ever make a Ken doll with a mullet?

Another winner in this race for losers, they sailed through the Portfolio Review on theme/vehicle choice alone. They offered to bribe and we told them it wasn’t necessary!

And with that, an apology: I’m sorry to soil your finely honed eyeballs with these horrible excuses for car design. I promise to do better next time. But thanks for reading…and I hope you have a lovely week. Still!

Join the conversation
  • 08Suzuki 08Suzuki on Oct 22, 2013

    I have to admit, this year's portfolio seems universally awful, the Toxic Trans Am and Tow-Miater being the only exceptions.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Oct 22, 2013

    This is the best thing I've seen in TTAC in ages!!! Lets have more portfolio reviews!!! Damn, I am so going to a LeMons. But help me here, SAjeev: what kind of car is the Barbie Corvette?

    • See 1 previous
    • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Oct 23, 2013

      Correct, it's the GMC version of the Elky. Thanks for the kind words, David.

  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉