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 [s]of horrible failure[/s] 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?