Race cars are fast, right? That means that the race cars in our series ought to do pretty well when they live life a quarter-mile at a time. Of course, Internet Car Experts™ will tell you that “pretty well” means “single-digit quarter-mile times,” but we set the bar a bit more… realistically. I met up with a few Lemons teams at Bandimere Speedway in Colorado last week, and we showed those square cats with the Demons and GT-Rs a thing or two.
To really understand Lemons drag racing, you’ll need to play some early-60s surf/drag tunes. Here’s a good one.
The first time a bunch of Lemons cars went drag racing, we were at No Problem Raceway in Louisiana, for the very first Laissez les Crapheaps Roulez race, in 2009. On Saturday night, after the checkered flag waved on the road course, the track opened up their dragstrip for Test-&-Tune Night. The wise and fair justices of the Lemons Supreme Court offered Get Out of Penalty Box Free cards to any teams willing to take their cars down the quarter-mile.
As it turned out, Lemons cars tend to be fairly slow in the quarter-mile. Most of them ran between 16 and 20 seconds; here we see the Cajun Jihad Mitsubishi just squeaking under the 19-second barrier.
We returned to No Problem the following year, and many teams enjoyed the drag racing so much that they did it again. Yes, that’s an amazing 25.766-second quarter-mmile time for the RX-7 with the just-about-dead engine; later in the evening, this car was beaten by a moped.
Some Colorado Lemons teams brought their cars, including the Speed Holes Racing 1966 Rambler Marlin, the Blue Flag Special AMC Pacer, and the Sordik Racing Renault Le Car, to Bandimere a few years back. The Marlin features 454 Chevy power and managed a best time in the high 14s, while the Renault got well into the 15s and the Pacer ran 17s.
We never kept detailed records, but most Lemons fanatics believe that the incredibly hooptified Police Brutality (later Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws) Lincoln Continental Mark VIII holds the Lemons record for best drag racing ET: somewhere in the 13s at No Problem in 2010.
After watching the Petrosexual Racing Miata and its goofy Cadillac High Technology 4.9-liter V8 engine swap set the quickest lap time of any Lemons car in the history of High Plains Raceway last month, we were curious about how well such a car would perform at the dragstrip. So, the Petrosexuals— now based in Colorado after years in Michigan— dragged their car up to Bandimere.
Then the Dodge Dakota 5-speed transmission, meant for use behind a 2.5-liter Chrysler four-banger, blew up, and that was the end of the drag racing for this car… for now. The good news is that junkyards are well-stocked with those transmissions.
Planeteer Racing, veterans of a dozen Lemons races in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and Utah, brought their 1987 Honda Prelude out for some quarter-mile action. One of the team members brought his street-driven Jaguar XJ-S, and the two went head-to-head.
The Rocket Surgery Racing 1978 Checker Marathon rolled up to tech inspections with the Sordik Racing Van-O-War Dodge. The Van-O-War is an early-70s Dodge Tradesman with 440-cubic-inch V8 and 4-speed manual transmission, not a race car but a critical support vehicle for several Lemons teams.
The taxi and the Van-O-War squared off at the Christmas tree, and I was there to capture the moment with my 1910 Ansco Buster Brown film camera.
The Blue Flag Special AMC Pacer (now known as Team Driving Without Intent) wasn’t running, so team captain Brett Holdaway brought one of his hot-rodded street Datsuns: this heavily modified 240Z.
There’s still a lot more performance potential to be unlocked with this car, and we look forward to seeing it at the Get Yer Phil 500 race in October.