Since 2008, the 24 Hours of Lemons has run at Carolina Motorsports Park more than any other racetrack. In April, Lemons made its 22nd appearance at CMP, which more or less renders it the series’ home away from home. In addition to fantastic Southern hospitality, the South Carolina track also regularly features some of the closest racing and most entertaining teams in the country. This 22nd visit was no exception, so let’s take a look at how the 2018 Southern Discomfort race shook out.
Before we get to the award winners (and contenders), this race included some fantastic Honorable Mentions, so to speak. The 2008 Pontiac G8 that turned up from Do You Even Race Bro?…Racing prompted many jeers of “How dare you?!” Despite a fairly plausible acquisition story, the Lemons Supreme Court turned a skeptical eye to it and buried it in penalty laps.
As it turns out a V6-powered G8 with an automatic transmission won’t dominate a Lemons race. At least not right away.With the 47th-fastest lap time of the weekend, perhaps the piles of penalty laps were a bit hasty.
In the same vein, Team Tortoise showed up with an early Toyota Celica Supra. The Tortoise guys had run a Ford Crown Victoria for years and apparently have an affinity for V8s, as they swapped a Lexus V8 in where the 5M inline six had previously lived.
The Supra proved pretty quick (15th quickest of 61 cars), but the extra power seemed most adept at obliterating CV joints. Maybe they’ll figure that part out eventually.
We’d seen the engine-swapped Khan Racing Academy BMW E30 a few times before at CMP, but its 4.3-liter Chevy V6 had proven to be unreliable in a BMW, shockingly. They asked Lemons Chief Justice Murilee Martin for the budget to put a “decent” engine into it, which was granted. And so they showed up with a Toyota 2JZ inline-six (No Shit!) from a Lexus IS300.
As you might expect, it was not much faster than a stock E30, but it was slightly less boring and it did finish more laps than it had in three previous races combined with the Chevy V6. Next step: Total domination.
As for the race winners, Moldecarlo became famous (notorious?) for picking up the first overall win for a General Motor car more than five years before winning the 2018 Southern Discomfort (and seven years into the series’ existence). The rusty G-Body Monte Carlo runs a 350 with an automatic transmission, a pretty rare combination for a road racer. Their usual race involves leading early and then blowing up, but the Small-Block-and-auto combination hung on to win their second-ever Lemons race.
Team SOB came in second place after winning both races at CMP in 2017. The team switched to an E30 in 2016 after scoring countless near-victories in a turbocharged Volkswagen Golf. This time, they missed out by less than two minutes on a third consecutive win.
Normally, we don’t pay much heed to third-place finishers, but the Silver Bullets “Nissord 580SX” so nearly won that it hurt us a bit to see it drop a lap behind with a flat tire in the race’s closing hours. The Ford Windsor-swapped 240SX almost always blows up spectacularly, so this might have been their one chance at a win. Read more about that car’s trials and tribulations here.
The race for Class B also included three cars separated by just a single lap. Despite nearly throwing away a win by speeding in the paddock, the Ruke Boy Racing Datsun 240Z came from behind to snatch their first Class B win.
To get there, they had to edge out Junk in the Frunk’s Toyota MR2 and the Spork Sports Honda CRX, both of which finished a single lap down and both of which should be in the hunt for later Class B wins.
In Lemons’ slowest class, the Idle Clatter Racing “Toyocedes” (Toyota pickup grafted onto a Mercedes 240D) overcame a huge penalty-lap handicap to win Class C. They had previously won the class and occasionally, Lemons Judges will give the option of running Class B without penalty laps or Class C with a few laps. Idle Clatter opted for the latter option and began something like 40 laps in the hole, which is about two hours behind everyone else with their car. And with that much deficit, you really can’t be angry about them winning Class C again.
The Heroic Fix tends not to be a Lifetime Achievement-type award, but an exception was made for the Mustang Express Chevy C10. High-school kids prepare and drive this truck and, as you might imagine, it usually is black-flagged quickly enough that there’s no time to notice its myriad mechanical woes. This time, it ran long enough to be black-flagged repeatedly for roiling oil smoke from its exhaust.
While the team eventually fixed this by regasketing the top end of the Small-Block Chevy, the trophy was really a recognition for sucking (slightly) less than usual. Good job, Mustang Express!
The flipside of the Heroic Fix is the I Got Screwed award, which was given to the Senior Citizens Club of America. The team spoofed the Sports Car Club of America and stick-in-the-mud club racers so well all weekend that we knew they’d be getting some trophy. They plastered their terrible ‘86 Civic with pages from the SCCA rulebook and lodged “protests” constantly all weekend in the Penalty Box.
Their Civic, meanwhile, was truly slow and awful. They had a shot at the vaunted Index of Effluency trophy, but just when things were looking up, they were thwarted by the ever-troublesome Honda head gasket. Screwed!
Every race features a made-up-for-this-race trophy and Lemons organizers coined this one “We Hope You’re Better at Your Day Job.” It went to Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, a group of active-duty military who packed their Crown Vic full of cheat. They got busted for it at BS Inspection and then managed to bungle the weekend by losing a transponder and just being generally clueless about Lemons. We expect they’ll do better next time—the learning curve at Lemons can be a bit strange and difficult—but we suspect they’ll get it figured it out before too long.
The Judges Choice went to The Fast and the Furriest BMW E28 team for a series of inexplicable actions unrelated to their Bimmer’s “racing.” The team brought a homebuilt “RV” on a trailer that was somehow integral to their befuddling theme (which included a team member locked in the trunk during BS Inspection).
Naturally, the roof blew off the garage-built “RV” (Yes, we’re going to keep using quotes) on the tow down I-95, closing off a few lanes and slowing traffic (and the local economy) to a crawl. That earned them a trophy for profound lunacy, but the “RV” had another surprise for them. On the way home, they closed off I-95 again as the “RV” burned into a pile of ash that had nothing to do with the totally-not-overloaded wheel bearings and axle. Well, at least they tried.
The Organizer’s Choice went to the USDA Prime Hyundai Tiburon. Owing to the broad Korean-car loophole, the team were utterly dominating Class C with their high-performance Hyundai sport coupe. “How can this be?!” shouted literally the four people behind them in the standings. “Just watch and wait,” the Lemons judges said. Naturally, the engine soon fired a connecting rod or three out of the engine block. One of the Lemons staff found a still-smoldering rod melting the pavement on pitlane and returned it to the Tiburon team for safekeeping.
They then did what any good Lemons team would do without enough time to swap in a replacement: They welded the nuked rod to the Class C trophy for the class winners and then proceeded to feed Lemons staff with their spare time.
We saw the Low-Dollar Escorts debut at CMP last year in their horrendous, ex-dirt-track first-generation Ford Escort. The car was so rickety and hopeless then that Lemons organizers figured they’d never see it again. However, the team brought it back with a fittingly terrible “Cosworthless” theme and managed to win the Index of Effluency.
That was no easy feat because first-gerneation Escort parts are pretty hard to find these days. They blew both front struts on Day 1 of racing with no replacements to be found within a couple hundred miles. So they adapted a set of borrowed Toyota MR2 struts to get through Day 2. Ultimately, they finished exactly in the middle of the 61-car field with the fifth-slowest car and that was plenty good for IOE glory.
The 24 Hours of Lemons returns to action in California this weekend at Thunderhill Raceway Park for Vodden the Hell Are We Doing? Devilishly Presented by Yokohama Tires. You can get updates on that race via Lemons Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.