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.
Working in the 24 Hours of LeMons Penalty Box, the constant refrain of “Four wheels off” over the radio from the corner workers reporting miscreant drivers gets a little tedious. Hearing “Six wheels off,” however, really livens things up for us. That’s just one of the many benefits of having the Team Apex Vinyl Texas six-wheeled Toyota Hilux in a race.
There are some fast LeMons cars that suffer from a single glaring weakness that knocks them out of the running after maintaining a lead for hour after hour. For example, the Acura Integra and Honda Prelude and their fragile head gaskets, or the Toyota MR2’s chronic engine-cooling/oiling woes. The Ford Taurus SHO, however, is constructed entirely from weaknesses; the transmissions explode, the engines throw rods (when they aren’t too busy spinning bearings and/or burning valves), the brakes overheat, and the suspensions crumble like pretzel sticks in a trash compacter. Wheel bearings, electrical components, you name it. But when a well-driven SHO doesn’t fall apart, very few LeMons-priced cars can catch it on a race course.
After a grueling all-day battle of thrown rods, car fires, and busted suspensions at MSR Houston, we never expected to see a Ford Taurus SHO with a Rat Patrol roof gunner on the same lap as a bar-sponsored ’84 Volkswagen Rabbit. That’s how things sorted out after the first race session of the fourth annual Yeehaw It’s Texas 24 Hours of LeMons.
Here we are at MSR Houston for the fourth annual Yeehaw It’s Texas 24 Hours of LeMons race. To ensure that TTAC’s coverage of the race remains completely objective, we’ve got three of your most loyal and dependable TTAC scribes delivering hard-hitting, hammer-jack-stomping journalism for y’all.
Hear the rhyme of the Tetanus Neon
See the pictures on T-T-A-C
Mesmerizing the unlucky reader
Stay here and listen to the nightmare of defeat
Well, that’s more the Iron Maiden version of “Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner” than Coleridge’s, isn’t it? And yet, this is not a dissimilar tale. There’s plenty to tell about my stint as a driver for last weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMons — misfortune, dehydration of the aqueous and fuel varities, damage, failure, and, finally, escape.
OK, not every car other than the BenzGay Mercedes-Benz W124 fell victim to thrown rods, busted suspensions, and the usual woes that knock LeMons cars out of races, but only 21 entries were still moving under their own power at the low point of late afternoon today. When the checkered flag waved at the end of the session, the BenzGay 300E sat atop a semi-comfortable four-lap cushion.
TTAC scribes have descended on MSR Houston from all corners of the globe (actually just Ohio, Texas, and Colorado), and we’re busily flashing the TTAC gang sign and spraying our tags on fools’ whips. Left to right, Sajeev “Big Chief” Mehta, Murilee “Judge Phil” Martin, and Jack “Plymouth Master” Baruth.
As is typical for races at MSR Houston, the mechanical carnage has been quite extreme. We saw sheared axles, blown head gaskets, thrown rods, and a Jetta with its engine dragging on the pavement (the last one is a first in my experience). Still, some cars haven’t broken, and the battle for the win on laps has been cutthroat; meanwhile, the battle for the Index of Effluency— LeMons racing’s top prize, which goes to the team that accomplishes the most with the worst car— seems to have settled into your classic Tercel-versus-Camaro-versus-W110 slugfest.
The 24 Hours of LeMons has been coming to MSR Houston since 2008, and it has become one of the toughest, most competitive tracks in the series. Out of the 80 or so cars at the third annual Gator-O-Rama inspections today, at least four are former winners and another half-dozen have multiple top-three finishes.
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