"The Lightning McQueen Graphics Should Be Worth Fifty Penalty Laps"

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

It’s a little-known fact that I was the first person to coach famous LeMons Judge Phil, also known as Murilee Martin to TTAC readers, around a racetrack. It’s a semi-known fact that I was his boss for about a year recently.

That didn’t stop him from hammering the Busted Racing 944 Turbo with twenty penalty laps for its maiden LeMons race at MSR Houston this weekend — nor did it stop the team from getting three black flags while I made my usual leisurely way to the racetrack for Saturday’s nine-hour session.

Since Jim, the team principal of Busted Racing, is such a nice guy, I know he won’t mind me using him as an example of how not to get through a LeMons BS inspection. In fact, it’s Jim’s honesty that was directly responsible for those penalty laps. Let’s count the ways that honesty caused him grief by using quotes from the actual interaction with Judge Phil:

“We got the car through some people who were also members of the local Porsche Club.” Has there ever been a 944 Turbo in history that was honestly sold for $500? Probably not. This one sold for $750, mostly because it had crash damage down the entire right side. But when Jim admitted that he was a member of the same PCA region as the seller, even though he didn’t know them and didn’t get a break on the price, Judge Phil administered Soviet justice with all the capriciousness of a tribunal of pigs deciding Snowball’s fate in his absence. Lesson: Always make a fake Craigslist ad.

“I fixed all the body damage myself!” But why fix the damage? Because Jim wanted a nice-looking car, he painstakingly knocked out all the dents then rattlecanned the whole car to the same approximate shade of red. The thing to do would have been to add more dents! Lesson: Never deliberately make a LeMons car look nicer than it was when you bought it.

“Twenty laps? With ten, we’d have a chance to win this thing!” When Jim said this, I wanted to yell “NOOOOOOOO!” like I was Luke Skywalker holding on to a piece of weather-control apparatus underneath Bespin. Never tell Phil you can win the thing with just a ten-lap penalty. Yes, the car is fast — the 1:56.9 you see above was just my fourth-ever lap in the car — but in order to run in the front at MSR you need a 1:54 in the bag every lap, no matter who on your team is driving. Lesson: Undersell your capabilities.

“Yes, it’s a 944 Turbo.” This was in response to Jay Lamm’s “What, this is some piece of shit 944 with an S2 front end?” The proper response to this would have been “YES.”, followed by a smile of satisfaction as you remembered the times you spent removing all “turbo” logos from under the hood and a quick bribe to Judge Phil. The 944 Turbo used to have Ferraris for lunch! Never admit to having a 944 Turbo! Lesson: Don’t admit to having a 944 Turbo.

As fate would have it, we’re currently sitting behind TTAC contributor Stef Schrader’s normally-aspirated Puffalumpy 944 in the standings, even if you account for Judge Phil’s judicious twenty. Three black flags will do that to you. But it’s going to rain tomorrow, and I think I might actually show up in time to drive. You never know what will happen.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Domestic Hearse Domestic Hearse on Nov 17, 2014

    Especially don't admit it's a turbo when, before the race, it wasn't even generating any boost. Did you ever get that sorted?

  • Murilee Martin Murilee Martin on Nov 22, 2014

    It is possible to get a 944 Turbo through the BS inspection with zero penalty laps, but the only path to this happy result involves bringing (at least quasi-)believable documentation of parts bought and sold. This car came with no documentation whatsoever. Maybe a year ago I'd have said, "Oh hell, all 944s blow up, who cares?" when I saw this car. But now two different 944s have managed to pull off LeMons overall wins, so I am forced to take the breed seriously.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.