What a race! We saw a record-breaking number of teams show up for the car inspections on Friday, what seemed like most of those cars break down during Saturday’s race session, and exciting battles in all three classes on Sunday. Here’s what happened.
Two years ago, we listed Cerveza Racing and their 1983 BMW 533i as one of the contending teams to watch in the future; they’d never taken an overall win at a LeMons race at that point but seemed poised to do so. Since then, they’ve won six races in the toughest region in the LeMons universe, with the most recent win coming last weekend at Thunderhill Raceway. Once again, the Cerveza drivers were careful-yet-fast on the track and the team’s communication and pit-stop skills were exemplary. Others had faster cars, but Cerveza took the win by a single lap.
Winning Class B and finishing in an astonishing P8 (out of 228 cars that made it onto the track during the weekend) was possibly the worst Datsun 280ZX in all of LeMons racing. Somehow, the Tartan Brigade stayed out of the Penalty Box and didn’t have to run to U-Pull-It for any replacement L28 engines during the course of the weekend.
Just a lap behind the Tartan Brigade Datsun and closing in fast on the Class B leader when the checkered flag waved, the Flailing Lizard Motorsports 1999 Ford Escort ZX2. This team finished in the top 10 with a car whose best lap was a full 21 seconds slower than the overall winner’s quickest lap, and 28 seconds slower than the quickest team of the weekend.
The Class C race ended up being a bare-knuckle brawl between the Billy Beer straight-six-powered 1979 Ford Fairmont and the Volkswagen TDI-swapped “Ferkel the Nein-11 1983 Porsche 911SC of Hella Shitty Racing. The Nein-11 was (slightly) quicker than the Fairmont, but excelled at breaking parts and/or going into limp mode. In the end, Hella Shitty Racing beat the Billy Beer Fairmont by a single lap.
The LeMons Supreme Court is now confronted with a classing dilemma for the Nein-11 TDI’s next race. The car is slower than most of the Class B competition (for example, the Class B Licensed To Ill Chevy S-10, with 600 pounds of sound-system hardware, turned a best lap more than five seconds better than did the Nein-11 at Thunderhill last weekend), but is now sufficiently reliable to be kicked out of Class C.
The 911 was a rollover-victim that was purchased as an engine donor for another project, and sufficient parts were sold off the carcass to fit it under the LeMons $500 budgetary limit (not that we’re going to be too strict about the budget of a car so perfectly suited for angering the pain-in-the-ass members of both the 911 Jihad and the Angry TDI Zealotry Brigade). As for TDI engines, you can buy 300,000-mile engine-donor cars and sell off the parts for enough to make this allegedly good (but terrible-in-reality) engine a freebie.
The Billy Beer Fairmont, meanwhile, will keep getting placed in Class C as long at it keeps the 200cid straight-six engine under the hood. Actually, we’d probably keep it in Class C if the Billy Beer crew dropped in a monster 250cid six.
The Organizer’s Choice decision was very easy, in spite of the vast breadth of machines that pleased the organizers at this event: Spank’s Caterpillar 416F Backhoe Loader.
Actually, this “Cat” was really the much-battered-and-glued-together Austin Mini Moke campaigned by Spank since the 2010 season. Built from possibly the worst Mini Moke available in the Western Hemisphere and on (we estimate) its 119th engine, the Cat 419F finished a respectable 155th place, beating plenty of Miatas, E30s, Integras, and Golfs.
In honor of their five years of West Coast LeMons awesomeness, the Faster Farms Chickens and their 1966 Plymouth Belvedere received the newly-invented Lifetime Achievement Award. The Belvedere suffered from overheating woes and a melted shifter cable, but still provided inspiration for all present at Thunderhill.
Most Heroic Fix went to the Pistola Alto team, who bought an ancient and long-forgotten Thunderhill pace car, found in the weeds behind the garages, to serve as an engine donor for their thrown-rod-victim Nissan 300ZX. There were many issues with the new engine, but the team got back onto the track before the end of the race.
The other side of the Most Heroic Fix award is the I Got Screwed award. This time, Team Breakin Werkz picked up this not-so-sought-after award for their misadventures involving the wiring on their Honda Civic. The car had some electrical problems early on Saturday, so the team decided that creating a brand-new full-car wiring harness from scratch (for a mid-90s computerized engine), using wiring diagrams found on their smartphones, would solve their problems.
About 20 hours of work later, it turns out that the wiring harness hadn’t been the problem. With about an hour to go in the race, the Breakin Werkz guys figured out that a bad distributor had been to blame all along. Screwed!
The justices of the LeMons Supreme Court, including your LeMons correspondent, Eric Rood of The Rusty Hub and Tim Odell of Hooniverse, decided to give the Judges’ Choice to NAFM Racing, whose hand-built mid-engined Chevy S-10/Olds Bravada/Pontiac Fiero creation made a big impression.
The NAFM car, or truck, or whatever it is, suffered from fuel-delivery problems and didn’t make many laps, but the judges liked the engineering and fabrication on display with this vehicle.
Not winning any awards but still deserving a mention was the Rover-with-Lexus-engine (dubbed the RoLex) brought by the Pit Crew Revenge team. Thanks to problems with the wiring harness of the 1UZ-FE Toyota V8, the RoLex wasn’t ready to go until about 30 minutes before the end of the race. We look forward to seeing the RoLex in future races.
Another engine-swap project that didn’t work as well as planned was the Zero Below Racing Chevrolet Corvair, which featured a mid-mounted Buick/Rover 215 V8 engine.
The big prize, the Index of Effluency, was never in any doubt: the Peugeot Daddy 1963 Peugeot 404 sedan.
The Peugeot 404 was locked in a deadly battle for French-car supremacy with this Renault 10, and ended up finishing in P174.
The Peugeot Daddy car was by far the slowest thing on the race track (in fact, its fastest lap was under full-course caution), but it ran for much of the weekend, played accordion music the entire time, and beat 54 much faster teams. Congratulations, Peugeot Daddy!
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