Moneymoneymoneymoney … Money!
“GO RACING ON A BUDGET!” It’s the go-to headline of a thousand magazine covers. When you see that headline, you can be assured of several things: the cost of labor will never be mentioned; nobody’s time is worth anything; nothing ever breaks, fails, or requires early replacement; and certain costs, like transportation and storage, will simply disappear without comment from the final accounting.
Today, I’d like to change all that. I’d like to tell you what this past weekend cost me, and what I got for my money. I’m doing this because I think some of you are interested in going racing, and the rest of you are simply amused when I suffer, whether physically or fiscally.
When Chrysler went all macho with tough car names, it was partly an attempt to expunge the marketing memory of the cute and happy ads for the Neon. The Neon was much better than its wretched Shadow/Sundance predecessor, but still enough of a disposo-car that junkyards teem with them today. Mostly I walk right by discarded Neons (unless I see something unusual, like an Expresso or an R/T), but this ’99 Neon Sport has aftermarket performance gear to match its stickers and that’s interesting enough for this series.
The Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph for this series; I’ll shoot a rare Neon R/T, but that’s about it. Still, something about the dot-com-boom optimism of the Expresso trim level catches my attention, so I paused to document this ’96 in its final parking spot.
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.
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