The Wikipedia entry for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park lists its 1940 opening date, its former nickname “The Indianapolis of the East,” and various notable drivers who have competed there. Then there’s the part that says “In August 2015, the track hosted its first event for the 24 Hours of Lemons series.”
History-sullying impact aside, Lemons at Thompson has been a great match. The current road course, which is a combination of the historic layout, the paved oval, and a major 2014 renovation has plenty of variety packed into its 1.7 miles. The Lemons winners at Thompson have been equally varied: A Saab-powered 300ZX, a Ford Escort, and a BMW E36 have scored overall wins in the three Lemons races at the venue.
Perhaps a bigger story was the fact that Lemons veterans 3 Pedal Mafia finished in P2, a single lap in arrears of the winning BMW, with a friggin’ giraffe on the roof. That’s a little more like it.
Class B was led by Bazinga Racing’s Z31 Nissan 300ZX, which wore “NOT CHEATY” graphics on the lids of its pop-up headlights. It was a remarkably stock example aside from a set of take-off Mustang wheels, and well deserving of the Class B crown.
The premier Lemons category, Class C, was a tough-fought battle between the likes of Subaru-powered Chevettes and Geo-powered Saabs, but in the end it was the Rover P6 of Super Grover that claimed a surprising win. Rover roadracing triumphs at any level are rare; ones involving giant stuffed Sesame Street characters even more so.
The I Got Screwed and Heroic Fix trophies were hotly contested. There were at least seven Thompson teams that embarked on hellish repair projects during the weekend, and the Lemons staff did their best to keep tabs on who was suffering and/or succeeding the most. In the honorable mention category, The Gadget Inspectors bought a sketchy craigslist replacement for their Nissan 240 only to install it and have it run so badly that they elected to go home instead of risking a return to the track.
Maximum Effort Motorsports admittedly did a little self-screwing with their mental mid-engine Chevy Chevette—unhappy with the power of the “original” four-cylinder Subaru powerplant, they went to the theoretically-and-actually much less reliable six-cylinder version.
And then there was Dr. Volks, a team made up of pro VW mechanics that couldn’t keep their VW running. That’s not a knock on their mechanicking prowess— it’s just another example of why really no one should ever own a Volkswagen.
Ultimately, the two standouts in the Screwed/Heroic department were Glue Sticks, who spent roughly 37 hours on an ill-fated V6 swap in their Firebird (Screwed!)…
…and The Deliverators, who did at least three engine swaps on their theoretically-dominant 2JZGE-swapped Nissan before triumphantly hitting the track for the last five minutes before the end (Heroic!).
Blues Brothers themes are common in Lemons, but all too often they involve a black BMW and some dudes in thrift-store suits and sunglasses. Interceptor Motorsports went the extra mile and added an honest-to-goodness mid-1970s Mopar Bluesmobile (not a 1974 Dodge Monaco, as was driven by Elwood Blues in the movie, but a close-enough-for-us 1976 Plymouth Gran Fury) to their suits and sunglasses, and navigated the malaise boat to a stunning 42nd-out-of-111 finish. This, despite having a fastest lap nearly 20 seconds off of the quickest pace. For this accomplishment, the Lemons Supreme Court awarded the hallowed Judges’ Choice trophy.
Thanks to Lemons’ partnership with Roadkill— whose parent company owns numerous print titles— Lemons HQ was once gifted a yearlong subscription to Minitruckin’ Magazine. Thanks to that— or maybe just an existing affinity for totally sick minitrucks— Lemons staff likes to honor these small utility machines when the opportunity arises.
Minitrucks weren’t yet done with their dominance of the awards podium, with the Ranger-piloting rookies of Hit ‘Em with the Hein scoring Organizers’ Choice honors. This team’s story began long before the race, with several highly unpromising emails asking safety-tech questions about their truck. Suffice it to say, the team faced an uphill battle bringing their bedless Ford up to Lemons safety snuff, and Lemons tech inspectors had little hope that the first-time team would successfully check all of the necessary tech boxes. But the team rose to the occasion, handling 95% of the tech requests discussed over email, and happily tackling the remaining 5% on site before the race. In a series where SCCA veterans often are dragged kicking and screaming to make a minor tech adjustment, Lemons virgins that suck it up and take care of everything are highly welcomed.
Last year’s Halloween Hooptiefest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was just before the presidential election, and one of the main candidates somehow carved time out of his busy campaigning schedule to serve as Grand Marshal for the Lemons event. While Vermin Supreme narrowly lost his bid for the White House, his message must have resonated with Northeastern Lemons racers, as The Lemontarians arrived at Thompson with a full Vermin Supreme theme including an amazingly convincing impersonator of Vermin himself.
Vermin (who remained in full pro-toothbrushing character all weekend), was only half of the story, as the team campaigned a “presidential Limo” made of an ’80s Sedan de Ville, a mean-sounding Chevy smallblock, and a swapped-in manual gearbox.
The team’s final results may have been a little too accurate to the Vermin Supreme motif, but the whole package was more than enough to take home top Index of Effluency honors.