A couple months back, Cadillac gave me a bright red, three-ton, rollin’-on-22s, chrome-drenched, hybrid-electric, $88,140 luxury truck to drive while in Michigan for the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Since that time, the effort of attempting to write a meaningful review for this ridiculous-yet-amazing machine has caused my brain to develop a severe rod knock. Who is supposed to buy this thing? I asked myself. What can you do with it?
We’ve seen a fair number of outstanding engine swaps in 24 Hours of LeMons racing— the Saab B Turbo-powered 300ZX comes to mind— but most such projects tend to have reliability and/or performance issues in the car-slaughtering arena that is LeMons. At the frozen Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis race a couple weeks back, the much-anticipated radial-engined MR2 ate its drivetrain after a single lap, but there was one outlandishly butchered machine that actually contended for the overall win: the Alfa Romeo quad-cam V6-powered Bertone X1/9 of Team Launcha Splatos.
Because most of the Saturday race session at the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis took place in rainy and/or snowy conditions, drivers couldn’t flog their engines as mercilessly as they had at the rod-throw-a-palooza Real Hoopties of New Jersey the week before. The sun came out on Sunday, however, and that’s when the casualties started to mount.
You get the Index of Effluency, 24 Hours of LeMons’ top prize, by accomplishing the most with the worst car. You can win it by getting a horrifyingly terrible car just into the top half of the standings, or you can get it by getting your very terrible truck a hair from the top ten. The Pickup Trash S10 team opted for the latter route, clawing their way to 12th place under un-pickup-friendly weather conditions against an extremely tough field.
On paper, the Toyota MR2 should be an excellent choice for a low-buck endurance racer… but 24 Hours of LeMons racing has a way of shattering such preconceptions like a connecting rod hurtling through the side of a 4AGE block. In fact, the MR2 has been one of the least reliable LeMons cars, even worse than such good-on-paper-but-terrible-in-practice endurance machines as the Nissan Z and Porsche 944; we’ve seen dozens of them race in LeMons over the years, and nearly all have failed miserably… until today. Today, the Dai Mondai II car was the first MR2 to take the win on laps in the 24 Hours of LeMons.
The temperature dropped to freezing, the wind hit 50 MPH, and the rain turned to snow at the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Cars spun out in record numbers, and broken cars had to be repaired in frostbitten conditions that would have appalled the harshest Gulag commandant. The battle for the overall lead stayed close all day, with the lead changing hands at least a dozen times.