Over the weekend a gaggle of sign-toting individuals assembled at the Detroit Renaissance Center to demand General Motors restore the long-defunct Saturn brand. While we would wager that there were a few earnest individuals keen to see the return of “ A Different Kind of Company,” the event was actually a last-minute goof put on by attendees of the Michigan Concours d’Lemons — America’s favored auto show for bizarre or impressively awful vehicle designs.
Someone forgot to tell the media, however.
Mark recently asked me a question: “Why do you race a Buick?”
No one has ever asked me that directly. Frankly, I didn’t have a specific answer. My team and I were simply playing by the strict-ish-ly simple 24 Hours of Lemons rule: “Vehicles must be acquired and prepared for a maximum of $500.”
The rest is history — but that wouldn’t make for a good story. So, to find a more specific reason, I looked back at the history of our battered Buick.
Jeff “Speedycop” Bloch is arguably the most famous competitor in the history of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Not because he wins the race (although he does have one overall win to my knowledge) and not because he’s been my teammate on a few occasions, but rather because of the unique “Class C” cars that he builds. From an “upside-down” Camaro to the infamous Spirit Of LeMons, Speedycop is always looking for a way to race something that’s never been raced before.
His latest announcement won’t disappoint his fans in the slightest.
Transparency in Motorsport… (photo courtesy: Murilee Martin)
A friend and I want to get into LeMons racing, but neither of us has much cash to throw at a hooptie or experience working on cars. I’ve changed oil, tires, lights, and brake pads but done little else.
Or No Go?
One item that came up often on TTAC’s request for feedback on Code Brown’s review concerned its range. And while range anxiety is real for some, the P85D sports a 200+ mile range (253 according to Tesla’s website) which met my needs in a large metropolitan area.
But when I hit the road for The 24 Hours of LeMons, range anxiety was real.
Not just with cash, that’s horribly un-entertaining unless it involves getting busted F1 style. So like any good criminal, let me boast about my bounty of ill-gotten booty in a tale that’s sure to please.
It feels as if it’s finally the Year of the Porsche 944 in the 24 Hours of LeMons. Several well-organized, knowledgeable teams such as Porch Racing and Floridiot Motorsports have made the 944 work reliably and well enough to contend for an overall win on laps. “Der Porschelump,” however, is not one of those teams.
I had tried to buy my way into one of those cars by buying an ex-ChumpCar winning ’83 944, but unfortunately, my time with that car was cut short. Some of you may recognize me from Jalopnik, where my first paid article was about having my racecar totaled in the first driver’s stint. Oops.
So, I bought another one. A commenter on my banana’d 944 article responded that he had one for sale, so I jumped on it. Enter: My First Racecar Build.
Can someone with almost zero mechanical experience beyond brake pad swaps make a 944 with a busted water pump run?
Were you ever taught something you already knew, something you normally teach others? That moment of surrealism came for this regional LeMons Judge while attending the Newbie School in a new racing series called the World Racing League. Baruth already gave you a tease: I set aside the idiotic ironic Indian Chief hat of LeMons for a weekend stint as a racer/pit crew/errand boy with the same team that brought you the iconic Ford Fairmont Wagon: now with more Granada.
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.
The quantities of true Chrysler K-Cars in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards have been declining a bit in recent years, though I still see enough of them that I choose only the most interesting to photograph for this series. So far we’ve seen this “Hemi 2.6” ’81 Dodge Aries wagon, this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon, and today I’m adding a gold Aries sedan that has special significance for me.
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?
What a long, strange trip it’s been for the TTAC Racing shirts! To begin with, they never made it to MSR Houston for the actual race, being left in a storage area by the folks who were prepping the car. The car itself never made it on track for the race. So this commemorates a race effort that, strictly speaking, never happened. It’s like having a shirt for the 1983 Corvette.
Which makes them either worthless or highly valuable. If the latter were the case, they’d be on eBay like, right freaking now. Since it’s the former, we’re raising the stakes.
The Truth About Cars has long had an explicit editorial policy and tradition of not covering motorsports.
However, nobody ever said that we couldn’t go racing ourselves. For the first time in the site’s history, TTAC will be fielding a race team. And because we love our readers, we’re having a T-shirt made to commemorate the [s]disaster[/s] occasion, and we will be giving those T-shirts away to our commenters.
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