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24 Hours of LeMons Detroit: The Winners

The very first 24 Hours of LeMons race was held in October, 2006, at Altamont Motor Speedway in California. LeMons Chief Perpetrator Jay Lamm, an automotive journalist at the time, had no idea that his idea would be so successful, and he certainly did not predict that his race series would be going strong a full decade later. Ten years to the day after LeMons Race Numero Uno, the Decade of Disappointment 24 Hours of LeMons took place at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.

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We brought back a lot of the old penalties for miscreant drivers for the Decade of Disappointment, plus such early-days-of-LeMons features as the Backwards Slalom. All of this excitement will be covered in the official wrapup video, so be sure to check the 24 Hours of LeMons YouTube channel for that.

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It was quite a party in the paddock on Saturday night, with free food and drink for all comers. Teams and racers came from all parts of the country to enjoy the Decade of Disappointment celebration, and it ended up being one of the best races we’ve ever had. Here’s what happened on the track.

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The Class A and overall winners, by what must be the largest margin of victory in LeMons history, were the drivers of LemonAid Racing and their BMW E30 3-Series. They beat the Wisconsin Crap Racing BMW E36 3-Series by a ludicrous 16 laps, which amounts to nearly a half-hour gap.

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The competition had been much closer for much of the weekend, but then the junkyard Vortec 5300 van engine in the then-race-leading Save the Ta-Tas Camaro decided to expel one of its connecting rods through the bottom of its oil pan. This cleared the way for the smooth-driving, invisible-on-the-track LemonAid BMW wheelmen to run away with the overall win.

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The Class B win was earned by the Escort Service and their 1998 Ford Escort. This veteran team from Ohio battled hard with the Placebo Racing Merkur XR4Ti for the class win, and finished in an impressive 7th place overall.

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When a team wins Class C or Class B, we’ll move them up to a higher class in future races. However, when a former Class C winner runs a miserably underpowered MGB, complete with electrical system by The Prince of Darkness, lever shocks, and carburettors hammered together by shaky-fingered English drunks in a dirt-floored shack, we might let their car run in Class C with a penalty-lap handicap. This is what happened with Team BRE and their double-digit-horsepower 1970 MGB-GT… and they overcame their five penalty laps to grab a two-lap Class C win. The moral of this story? If you want to stay in Class C, race a British Leyland car.

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The Class C team that finished a couple laps behind the MG also had handicap laps for being a former Class C winner; the Racing 4 Nickels guys showed up with their Olds Ciera in full “Fargo” regalia. A great theme on a car made by a defunct GM division also works wonders for teams wishing to remain in the most important LeMons class.

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We had some amazing new builds show up to this race. Carrying on the LeMons tradition of building brain-rattling machinery out of Honda Del Sols, A Quart Low rolled into the inspections as Calvin & Hobbes with their “Racing Failyer” wagon.

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Ordinarily, a team bringing something this spectacular to a LeMons race would have gone home with the A-list Organizer’s Choice trophy. However, the Decade of Disappointment race was so overrun with jaw-dropping new builds that the Radio Failyer didn’t grab the Organizer’s Choice. Instead, A Quart Low received the I Got Screwed award, for falling victim to plain bad luck in the timing of their wagon’s debut race.

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So who did win the Organizer’s Choice trophy? The Charnal House Racing “Porsche 935” (actually a Geo Metro with mid-mounted Taurus SHO Yamaha V6 engine), of course. We’ve got a full feature on this car, so go read it right now.

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So screwed that they didn’t even take home the I Got Screwed trophy, White Trash Racing brought their 1993 Eagle Vision for its second LeMons race. The first time around, the Vision sort of ran, garnering the made-up-for-the-occasion Chicago Cubs of Racing award at the Chicago race. At the Decade of Disappointment, the thoroughly disappointing reputation of the Chrysler LH platform caught up with the White Trash Racing Vision, with the car sputtering to a halt after 61 laps and refusing to run again.

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The team brought a copy of the 1994 issue of Car and Driver that featured the Eagle Vision/Dodge Intrepid/Chrysler Concorde on the publication’s 1993 Ten Best list. Since the author of that Vision review was present at the Decade of Disappointment, White Trash Racing had him autograph the magazine.

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After several highly skilled mechanics sweated, with no success, over the dead Vision all weekend, the team threw up their hands in disgust. They sold the wheels and tires to another team and dragged their dead race car straight to the nearest scrapper, receiving $87.00 for it. Lesson learned: when Judge Phil (aka Murilee Martin) suggests that your team race a terrible Chrysler product, don’t do it!

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Another Judge Phil idea gone awry led to an incredibly well-deserved Most Heroic Fix trophy win by Morrow Racing. This Pittsburgh-based team boasts the very rare combination of top-notch fabrication and organizational skills with a love of absurd vehicular projects, and so when a certain giver of bad automotive advice suggested that what the world really needs is a road-racing Cadillac Eldorado with two 500-cubic-inch V8 engines (that’s 8.2 liters apiece, to you slaves of Communism the metric system), they went ahead and made it happen. Yes, one thousand cubic inches, driving all four wheels of a 1971 Eldorado!

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Unfortunately, the Eldo’s front engine ‘sploded early in the going on Saturday, and the Morrow Racing guys spent the rest of the weekend pulling the rear engine out and swapping it into the front. Ringleaders Dave Morrow and Josh Wiechmann pulled off this Herculean feat in a mere 20 hours of wrenching, which won the team another Most Heroic Fix award for their big collection of LeMons trophies. We’ve got a big feature about this car for you, so go take a look.

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We established a Spec Land Yacht class for the Decade of Disappointment, and the aptly-named Rusty Bucket Racers’ 1975 AMC Matador coupe ran away with the SLY prize. Go read Judge Eric’s Matador feature for the whole story.

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In the eight years that the 24 Hours of LeMons has been holding events in Houston, we have been importuning those Texans to build a proper race SLAB. Finally, Zero Budget Racing— a bunch of Ohioans— made it happen. Check out our feature on this fine racing machine.

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As for the top prize of LeMons racing, the Index of Effluency, the Bad Decisions Racing 1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan straight ran away with it, and we’ve got the whole story for you.

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To see all the photos we shot at this race, go here. To watch the official race-wrapup video, go here. And to keep up with all the latest 24 Hours of LeMons action, go to the Roadkill Home of the 24 Hours of LeMons.

Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover