“Excedrin. Misadventure. A LeMons racer craves just such things.” – Master Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Or something like that. Nerds are everywhere today (present company included) and there are seldom things nerdier than car geeks. However, when Star Wars meets the 24 Hours of LeMons, nerd overlap reached its peak. With the pending release of the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, let’s take a look at some LeMons entries influenced by George Lucas’ space opera(s).
To begin this discussion, the only logical place to start is Oregon’s Snowspeeder Pilots Association. The Snowspeeder drivers hold a number of distinctions in LeMons, including campaigning one of the oldest LeMons cars still left (mostly) intact. Their Battle of Hoth-themed Toyota MR2 first raced in 2007 at Altamont Raceway in the series’ more post-apocalyptic days and has stayed in service continually since with more than a few battle scars to show.
Their most-recent outing at Sonoma Raceway earlier this month marked the MR2’s 23rd race and while they’ve had a few Top 10 finishes, they’ve never won a race. That said, no other MR2 has endured as many race miles in LeMons, which is kind of like claiming to have the largest house on Dagobah.
Of course, that durability has come with countless head gasket replacements to speak nothing of replacement engines and hammered-out big dents (while the smaller ones remain to give character).
Each big knock to the little mid-engine sports car gave the chance for redesign, which included a massive splitter in the front. We look forward to many more years of Snowspeeder sorties.
Rogue Squadron’s Nissan Sentra SE-R did, in fact, rack up a win at Thunderhill Raceway in 2010. The high-revving tribute to Rebel starfighters just edged out stalwarts and season champions Eyesore Racing for that hard-earned win.
Like true LeMons champions, they accepted their trophy in costume! Rogue Squadron would run a couple more races here and there before retiring the Sentra to a place farthest from the bright center of the galaxy.
The X-wing replica Car Wars: Return of the Junkers Honda Prelude participated in Colorado races at High Plains Raceway several years and has typically herded through the nerf to be a regular Top 10 car.
Car Wars nearly won at High Plains this year with a redesigned R2-D2 livery, finishing a close third place. We look forward to seeing if next year they can fulfill their destiny of domination.
Speaking of R2-D2, only one team has ever played on the obvious MR2-D2 pun, that belonging to the MR2D2 Toyota MR2 that also raced at High Plains in 2010. It only turned up once, didn’t finish the race, and only really looks Star Wars-y if you see it up close, but they get big points for the pun.
More recently, Michigan’s Rough Knuckle Racing brought their own X-Wing-themed car to race in Chicago this year, a first-generation Mazda Miata. The starfighter’s R2-D2 copilot turns its head side-to-side throughout the race. This author once referred to this as a hopeless car, but the team have returned good results to demonstrate they find a so-called LeMons expert’s lack of faith disturbing.
Texas’ Running With Scissors wins big effluency points for attempting to race a Dodge Daytona, one of the most incredibly miserable car types to have ever run in LeMons. Theirs was decorated as an A-Wing from Return of the Jedi, a vehicle that only Star Wars uber-geeks who spent months of their lives playing the X-Wing DOS Game in their parents’ basements would know intimately. [Author’s note: Author has first-hand experience in this.]
Anyway, the Daytona’s lasting LeMons legacy actually has nothing to do with Star Wars. Rather, the team captain donated the car’s cheaty 3.0-liter V6 to the horrible K-Car that traversed the country several times in 2013 and only tried to kill its caretakers a handful of times.
Of course, everyone wants to be a Rebel starfighter pilot, but only New England racers Fiasco Rallysport have been
brave silly enough to replicate Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Their platform is the Merkur XR4Ti, the turbocharged pseudo-Sierra sold stateside.
Like Han Solo’s 12-parsec freighter, the Merkurian Falcon sure looks like a piece of junk (in the best possible way). And while the turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter Ford four-cylinder might let them outrun the local Imperial constabulary, reliability issues may force them to park it among dumpsters to avoid getting noticed.
Fiasco Rallysport enjoy their BS Inspection cosplay, although their Chewbacca looks like he’s spent a few months sleeping on top of the Falcon’s alluvial dampers.
Spaceships are all well and good, but the most sensible Star Wars replica is surely a landspeeder like the one that Luke Skywalker scooted around Tattoine’s deserts. Landspeeders R Us campaigned their Miata-speeder at Southern races for several years.
The 5150 Racing crowd, who had previously built a Harold and Maude-replica Jaguar hearse (with a real E-Type hood), showed up at Sonoma earlier this month with their own landspeeder carved from their Datsun 240Z.
The team literally drove the (cardboard) engine tubes off the car, having them returned by the track crew at the day’s end.
The real, um, telling part of the team’s Star Wars replica was one team member’s eye-searing C-3PO outfit.
Definitely not the droids we were looking for.
And their Imperial Navy outfits were a perfect match. “Vader, release him!” [Chuckling]
Fine, fine, you’re wise to our trolling, but Eyesore’s onship footage from the USS Enterprise is one of the greatest pieces of LeMons video ever.
All that’s well and good, but what about the actual Dark Side? All the cool stuff in any science fiction movies belong to the bad guys. While we have yet to see an automotive Death Star, Star Destroyer, or Jar Jar Binks, the Darth Bimmer BMW 2002 was first to claim utter Sith-ness at MSR Houston in 2008. Sure, it just looks painted matte-black, but…
…check out that 2008 cell-phone-caliber photo of the Darth Vader hood painting.
The piece de resistance, however, came at Gingerman Raceway in the summer of 2012. The team name was utterly perfect:“You Came In That Thing? You’re Braver Than I Thought!” and clinging to its roof as it ripped around the Michigan track was a life-size Darth Vader.
You may be unsurprised that this car was built by the same madmen who later turned a Ford Mustang into a flying pig with a couple hundred pounds of plywood and sheet metal and won a race outright with it.
Surely, then, this was no stock Porsche 944.
Most people ditch the complicated Porsche engines for big-bore engines, as most car nerds know, but YCITT?YBTIT! opted instead to throw in the turbocharged 2.3-liter engine from a Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.
Flames-pewing Forsche: The Ultimate Dark Side Weapon.
So what’s next? Will we see a Death Star Volkswagen Beetle? A Wedge Antilles Triumph TR7? A Jar Jar Binks Pontiac Aztek? The next LeMons season starts in February at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, so perhaps we shall find out. In the meantime, you can expect lots of high-quality LeMons content here on Roadkill.