Super Piston Slap: Poorvette Fever!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
super piston slap poorvette fever

Aside from “real racers” who insist The 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke, everyone else understands this series’ willingness to embrace engineering and artistic creativity, providing somewhat-wholesome entertainment and—best of all– giving away a metric ton of track time for little cash. As a member of the LeMons Supreme Court in their Texas races, well, bias from judicial bribes and heartless praise bestowed upon me aside…

…here’s a dirty little secret: you can go LeMons racing in any fully depreciated machine with ZERO PENALTY LAPS, no matter how awesome the vehicle was when new. Provided you bend (not break) the rules with your whip. And give everyone a good reason to love/hate you. The Poorvette is proof positive.

Now this ain’t no secret, as Murilee Martin already mentioned how the Poorvette shoulda been buried under penalty laps. But wasn’t. Why?

  1. The team: historically they‘ve been nice to everyone, pre C4 Corvette ownership. Sometimes that goes a long way in determining penalty laps, or lack thereof.
  2. The Poorvette’s somewhat believable story: being an earlier C4 (Tuned Port Injection) body with an LT-1/6-speed swap gone wrong (supposedly), then sold for cheap-ish and parted out to fit in LeMons rules.***
  3. Track record: American V8 iron has rarely endured in LeMony races, much less possessing the fuel economy to match with the infrequent pit stops of more efficient metal.
  4. Margin for error: you are guaranteed to enjoy passing every lily livered furrin’ car in your wedge-tastic Vette, to the point that euphoria nets you a black flag. Then serious repercussions (that often come with zero-penalty laps) in the judging area…resulting in no chance of winning.
  5. Not winning is a big “win” for everyone: the fanbois have grist for their mill, the haters do their thang, and LeMons tells another insane story.

Clearly this is a win-win for everyone. Especially you, oh cheaty race team.

And how did the Poorvette do? It led the pack, getting everyone all hot and bothered. But then the stock fuel tank/pump had starvation issues in the corners, which was the icing on the cake after the power steering failed the day before in testing. No matter how fast you’re going, those Z06-style wheels are too wide to ever make a lack of power steering acceptable. Even still, the Poorvette probably also set one of the fastest lap times, which totally means nothing in an endurance race.

Hare, meet the Tortoise…son!

But still, the Poorvette’s maiden voyage netted a respectable 6th place on a weekend lacking Corvette friendly weather. Not bad considering how many Porsche 944s need far more work to accomplish similar results. Perhaps one day we will see C4s give those Porkers the drubbing they got back in the 1980s. If so, don’t expect Judge Phil to be generous with C4s again. Ever.

No matter, the Poorvette’s crew even earned a Judge’s Choice Award, which proves once more: we need more C4s in LeMons! Well not exactly.

Perhaps more “taboo” cars that aren’t of the E30 or retired Spec-Miata variety. Like more Porsche 928s, rear-wheel drive Maximas souped up with Z-car parts, more cheaty compact trucks (cough, RANGER, cough) and more GM sedans easily modified to DOMINATE in the slower classes: C and B. And let’s not forget more super-durable CVPI Panthers, too.

So there you have it: good stuff happens in LeMons when you play your cards right. Thank the Poorvette for proving that.

*** Considering the early C4s utter domination in SCCA back in the day, and their still impressive autocross performances today, the Poorvette crew would do just as well in LeMons with the stock aluminum headed L98 and a close ratio 4+3 gearbox. Their LT-1 swap and wide ratio T-56 gearbox did very little for me. This is an endurance race, not a drag race!

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4 of 15 comments
  • Olddavid Olddavid on Mar 20, 2014

    This series has seemingly evolved into an elaborate insider's joke. No way a C4 with that engine/trans. combo qualifies, no matter how you skew the "sold" parts math. Were this a claiming race, I'd be there with $100 bills. Don't get me wrong - I am no hater. Anything that gets you HOURS of track time cannot be a bad thing.

    • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Mar 20, 2014

      Not really. I'd agree if C4s, Porsche 944s and other great sports cars were blowing the doors off of the competition. But their track record (get it?) doesn't jive with that. Odds are you'll get more laps covered in a CVPI because it's less likely to blow up.

  • Poorvette Poorvette on Mar 20, 2014

    I am the owner of the Poorvette and I would like to give you my perspective of the “Total Near Domination” that we achieved. If I’m honest, we were extremely surprised to actually finish. I’m about to climb up on a little soapbox, feel free to skip down a little bit if you need to! First off, I disagree right off the bat with the author’s opening sentence. I know several racers who have sold their “real” racecars after experiencing crapcan racing. In a normal SCCA/NASA/NARRA weekend you might get to run three or four 20-minute races. In LeMons, you’ll achieve that before you get out of your first stint… that is unless your car gives up, or you drive like an idiot. Here, racers are spending nickels instead of dollars, and not only that, its incredibly fun. One comment I heard at the last race, “I think I just passed more cars in that last hour than I did all last year.” It’s a cool vibe preparing for and attending a LeMons event. You have other people on your team. You are pulling together and actually achieving something. There is camaraderie here like few other places. Not only are you plotting and scheming with your buddies, but odds are, you will make friends with neighbors in the paddock and start helping them and more than likely, they will bail you out as well! That’s why we always share our BBQ and Liquor! The main thing a “real racer” would argue is speed. “Well my XYZ limited edition with the continental delete option can lap this place in under two minutes and all this car can do is a 2:07.” Poppycock. All I would say in return is “Speed is relative.” Put me on an empty track and I’ll initiate Time Trial/Qualify mode and it will be a blast. But eventually, it loses a little of its specialness. Now, put me on a track with 70 other drivers, some driving faster, some driving roughly the same times, and a bunch driving slower and tell me “It’s a race, i.e. open passing, go get your fill.” I will be smiling and giggling like a school girl until my gas tank is empty. And even that’s not enough! More Please. And if you are reading this and have never participated in one of these events, I would like to further share my opinion with you. LeMons is the place to be. They will keep you safe and you will have a great time. The leaders, and workers, are top-notch. I look forward to LeMons events more than any other event. Its like I’m 5 years old and its December and I can’t wait for presents. You will have a blast, people are there to help you, DO IT!!!!!!!!! I have nothing bad to say about other organizations, I just have so much fun at LeMons and I want you to experience it as well. Alright, off my soapbox. My side of the story: Strong Start: the driver doing the first stint has a lot of experience driving race pace in the rain. The track was slippery as could be and he happened to be yelling yee-haw over the radio every 20 seconds or so while he danced. Once the track dried out our laptimes didn’t decrease as drastically as other cars. Fast Laps: Our fastest lap was 6 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the event. In fact we could only muster the fifth team fastest time. And there were a ton of cars that would pass us on the straights. I do agree, steady laps = win. Fastest lap = broken car. But if you think the LT-1 is an advantage, I would show you gopro videos of some 70’s era brown ford thingy that shot past us, then a miata, then a mazda, and Datsun… you get the idea… Budget: I know no one will believe this, but we built the car to actually be 100% legal. We found a busted swap project in a junkyard where it had been sitting for 8 years. We negotiated that the junkyard owner throw in a driveshaft and put our $400 treasure on a trailer and got out of there. The interior was decently complete, so we sold it all, including the convertible top to a local mechanic who specializes in hording corvette parts. $575 back in our pockets. The headlights were the most valuable thing on the car so we sold them and got $270. With our new found cash we fixed the fuel lines, cooling system, new shocks from rockauto(shoutout), spark plugs/wires/ optispark, and new brakes. It was legitimately a budget build. PVC air intake for the win. We also noticed in the rules that we could have spent a bunch more money on stuff that didn’t count towards the $500… but screw it. Old bushings, old springs, stock corvette brakes, the actual wheels that were on it in the junkyard, and it was a blast. We would have loved to put something crazy in it for power. But the LT1 ran, so we will flog it until it dies. Then maybe we'll put a radial, or a turbine, or a something else ridiculous in it. Right now we are just playing the hand that was dealt to us, and we are loving it. You should do it as well. (we need more people to pass with our hella cheaty super car)

    • Raincoaster Raincoaster on Mar 20, 2014

      Thanks for your response. I'd like to attend a LeMons event some day, but I currently live snuggled up next to Alaska and they are mostly out of the way.

  • Oberkanone The Chrysler - Plymouth - Dodge Neon's racing successes - SCCA and elsewhere ( racing.
  • Kwik_Shift My brother inherited his work travel 2013 Ford Escape 1.6L EcoBoost to be replaced with a 2019. It is now used as a beater vehicle primarily to take my mother out for shopping/appts, etc. Just right seat height for her to get in and out of.Right now it has 420,000 (HWY) kms still on original engine/turbo/transmission. Impressive, but doesn't mean I'd intentionally buy any Ford EB combination vehicle. I've heard lots of bad things as well.
  • Analoggrotto You forgot something.
  • MKizzy We can pretty much agree at this point that all Ford ecoboost engines regardless of displacement are of trash quality.
  • Jeff71960 once a fun fast little car (if you can find an unmolested one)... unfortunately boy racer types trashed most of them