We’ve just gotten finished warming our hands from last weekend’s 24 Hours of Lemons race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Like most years of the annual “Halloween Hooptiefest,” we got a dash of rain and temperatures borrowed from Duluth, but more importantly, we got a tremendous race full of rusted-out jalopies and toe-up crapcans vying to keep from falling apart. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers, which are terms that are easily interchangeable in LeMons.
Normally, we don’t take a lot of stock in the winner, but this time around Team Failken: Formula D-Bags won the race in their Nissan 240SX. In more than 125 races, this is surprisingly the first win ever for a 240SX.
The Failken’s 240SX runs a naturally aspirated KA24 engine and the team, comprised largely of a group split off from the long-running Team Pro Crash Duh Nation Alfa Romeo Milano squad, ran hard and clean all weekend for an overall win.
With maybe 130 horsepower at the crank of their little econobox and only the stock 12-gallon fuel tank, the Massholes’ Ford Escort ZX2 still managed to finish second place for the second straight race. With eight of nine races finishing in the Top 10, we think they’ll get that elusive victory some day in the near future.
Class B honors went to the Electile Dysfunction Volkwagen Jetta. Typically, Class B is the place where mediocre cars spar with each other and Electile Dysfunction raced past the post just like a meteorically rising presidential candidate in the state primary. That, of course, likely means they’ll race in A class and be fighting an uphill battle against the dozen or so established candidates in the Northeast.
The Lemontarians have raced in New England since 2010 with a few different cars, but racing a Chevy Citation X-11 indicates a serious lack of good judgment. An unmuffled General Motors’ 60-degree V6 does not, generally speaking, make a pleasing sound, but this X-11 sounded like a gallon-bucket of bolts dropped into an industrial blender set to ionize. Nevertheless, the Citation ran with only a minor hiccup or two on the way to a two-lap Class C victory over the SuperGrover Rover P6.
Every race, LeMons hands out a Heroic Fix trophy for the team that overcomes the most spectacular failure(s) with aplomb, composure, and occasionally utter stupidity. Rather than give it out for one single fix, organizers renamed it the Endless Fix because Three Pedal Mafia’s terrible Citroën SM continued to be a Franco-Italian headache for the veteran LeMoneers.
As is often the case with older cars that run in LeMons, the Citroën’s tire old fuel tank collected and spit out all kinds of terrible material. This is what their fuel filter looked like after 30 minutes of racing.
Because dropping and cleaning a fuel tank can take up an awful lot of time and isn’t guaranteed to succeed, Three Pedal Mafia elected instead instead to rig up a system of multiple filters that let them run long enough to overheat their brakes. C’est la vie!
Futility Motorsport’s Shelby Daytona (above in its classic “Waahmbulance” livery for reasons that will become semi-evident shortly) has burned through turbocharged 2.2-liter engines the way that, well, those engines burn through oil. After 10 or so races, their old Reagan-era front-wheel-drive pony-car fighter is utterly worn out and has turned its last lap, which was only their 26th lap of the weekend.
The team tried and failed to cobble together a good engine from multiple marginal ones Saturday night for a final hurrah, but just as the Daytona started its inaugural 18-lap journey at LeMons New Hampshire in 2011, the Futility squad took home an I Got Screwed trophy. What’s next? Only time and an inevitable series of poor decisions will tell.
Winters are long in northern New England and that means ample time not only to cook up bad ideas for crapcan race cars but to carry through. And that’s the best and often the most frightening thing about about LeMons racers: Most of them follow through with their wretched ideas. For Defeat Device, that meant transforming a 1979 Chevy Chevette into a halfway legitimate race car.
We’ve seen a homebrewed turbo setup on a stock Chevette before, but Defeat Device upped the ante by mashing together a true shoestring budget build from a non-running Chevette parts car, a Subaru EJ22 engine, Miata and Subaru subframes, some assorted Dodge Neon parts, and shocks from Honda quad.
As crazy as it sounds, the fabrication work was astonishingly well thought-out and executed, landing the car solidly in middle of the field. For their utter dedication to making the best of a pile of parts, Defeat Device took home the event-specific Long New England Winter Build Award.
Judges Choice could really only go to one team at this race and that was E.R.M. Racing’s Ford Mustang Doof Wagon. There’s a lot of insanity in play here. First off, it’s a fantastic replica of the Doof Wagon from Mad Max: Fury Road, which rolled through Friday’s BS Inspections with Doof rocking the hell out on his flame-spewing guitar.
Top that off with the fact that the Mustang, which was previously a Mad Max Interceptor theme, was converted to right-hand drive with a British Falcon steering rack. If that’s not crazy enough, the team tired of blowing up 5.0-liter V8s and instead dropped the 2.8-liter straight six from a Datsun 280ZX in it to make it LeMons’ first DatStang.
They even got their rig endorsed, via Facebook, by big rig racer Mike Ryan.
The DoofStang finished in the bottom 10 of the field and spent most of the weekend on jack stands, but who cares? Witness it!
When Jay Lamm cooked up his brilliant(ly terrible) idea for the 24 Hours of LeMons, he pictured scads of Renault Fuegos dicing with Yugo GVs among a crowd of whatever mid-size cars could pick up for cheap. For about the first four minutes of a race anyway. The Fuegos, GVs, and even the bland mid-size cars are few and far between, but newcomers Invasion of Privacy absolutely crushed it at new Hampshire with their non-SHO jellybean Ford Taurus.
The suspension was comically squishy-soft and the driving was occasionally a bit ambitious, but the beat-up old Taurus managed to finish 61st, beating at least a few dozen high-performance sports cars. Pro tip: Attaching oversized, performance-sapping things like a security camera to an already-terrible car will get you far in LeMons. Organizers Choice!
This brings us to the Index of Effluency and let’s face it: Keeping a Chevy Citation X-11,which was probably sporting some rust when it reluctantly drove off the showroom floow in 1981, running for any length of time is impressive. Making it run long and well enough to win Class C? Well, that puts the “fluency” in “effluency.” Well done to the Lemontarians on a much-deserved IOE.
Check back soon on Roadkill for more from the first LeMons Australia race!h