Of all the cars at the ‘Shine Country Classic, none inspired more speculation than the ’75 LTD of the Tunachuckers and ’79 W116 of NSF Racing. So many questions! Would either car be ready for the green flag on Saturday morning? Which one would be quicker around a road course? Could an ungodly complicated Teutonic flagship even make one lap on a race track after 32 years and a 99.97% value depreciation? Could Grandma’s long-abandoned big Ford roar into life and survive on the race track with little more than a cage installation and a hasty tune-up? Each team had joined the elite of LeMons veterans, with one Index of Effluency win apiece, so expectations
of horrible failure were high.
GM cars start any 24 Hours of LeMons race with a big Index of Effluency advantage, and when you throw a big couch and handtruck in the bed of your Chevy S10 and spend the weekend hurling the thing around a twisty road course full of much faster vehicles… well, for the Greene County Moving Company, the end result was LeMons racing’s top trophy.
The temperature soared well into the 90s today, causing fearful mechanical carnage among the cars that had survived the first session of the 2011 ‘Shine Country Classic in South Carolina. Through all the busted engine blocks and vaporized head gaskets, one Screamin’ Chicken-bedecked Mazda just kept blasting out fast lap after fast lap, padding its lead and avoiding even a hint of a black flag. In the end, the Hong Norrth 1994 Mazda MX-3 took the checkered flag with a dominating 12-lap cushion separating it from the second-place car (the Team SOB VW Golf, a perennial South Region contender that’s way overdue for a LeMons win on laps).
When I rolled into Camden, South Carolina, in preparation for judging at the third annual 24 Hours of LeMons South Spring race, my friend Walker Canada handed me the keys to his rough-but-functional ’87 BMW E28. “Go ahead and use it as your Judgemobile!” he offered. The dash lights and most of the gauges didn’t work, but I only had to drive 20 miles to the track. The engine sounded great, the suspension was still tight, and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” was on the radio. What could possibly go wrong?
Y’all know that the NSF Racing 1962 Plymouth took the top prize at the Southern Discomfort 24 Hours of LeMons last month, but some of you may be wondering how the Fury managed to beat out the Sputnik ’86 Nissan Stanza wagon (441 laps) or the Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws Parnelli Jones Galaxie (243 laps) for the Index of Effluency. Clearly, I have failed in expressing just how unspeakably terrible this car really is, and thus what a monumental achievement its 218 laps around the Carolina Motorsports Park road course really was.
When shopping for a car to thrash all weekend long on a hairy road course, most of us don’t consider the Nissan Prairie. Why not? The Team Sputnik ’86 Stanza Wagon proved at last month’s Southern Discomfort 24 Hours of LeMons that you don’t need an RX-7 or E30 to do well in low-buck endurance racing.
The Index of Effluency trophy goes to the 24 Hours of LeMons team that accomplishes the greatest feats with the most improbable car; if your team’s car is a horrifyingly rusty heap that sat in a field for decades prior to being resurrected for racing, is a type of vehicle that never belonged on a road course in the first place, and manages to clank through more than 200 tough laps on a car-killing track, you have an excellent shot at taking home the coveted IOE. The NSF Racing 1962 Plymouth Fury accomplished this feat at this weekend’s Southern Discomfort race.
Plenty of Mazdas (including the Protege, Miata, RX-7, and— depending on how strictly you define a Mazda— Ford Probe) have taken the win on laps at a 24 Hours of LeMons event, so the fact that the Hong Norrth 1994 MX-3 wore Mazda badges didn’t shock anyone. No, what shocked everyone was the crazy series of lead changes during the race’s last hour, with a Saab 900 Turbo, BMW 325i, and Honda Prelude slugging it out with the Mazda for the checkered flag.
The RBankRacing Saab 900 Turbo took the overall win at the 2010 Southern Discomfort race, but
almost everyone many observers felt that performance was a fluke.
Parnelli Jones, Real Housewives of Bahrain, and a Stanza Wagon: BS Inspections of the Southern Discomfort 24 Hours of LeMons
Here I am, back in Carolina Motorsports Park in South Carolina for the second annual Southern Discomfort 24 Hours of LeMons, and the seventh LeMons event to take place at CMP. The ’10 Southern Discomfort really was uncomfortable, with freezing-ass temperatures and plenty of frigid mud all around, and that scared off many of the usual Southern LeMons teams this time… but the joke was on them; the 50 or so teams that had the guts to show up will enjoy beautiful 70-degree weather all weekend.
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