While other racing series are prompting silly questions like “What’s up with that one guy’s hair?” the 24 Hours of LeMons is busy tackling big issues. Earlier this year, LeMons settled the hours-old rivalry between Roadkill’s Rotsun and an obscure, half-century-old British station wagon. Just a few short weeks later at Autobahn Country Club near Chicago, LeMons solved once and for all the brain-bending query that has plagued tens of human beings for the last 25 years: “Which Pontiac is a better endurance racer: Trans Am or the Trans Sport?”
The obvious favorite here was this classic third-generation 1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, which has raced in the past under a couple of different team names (Dumar ES Racing this time and Scuderia Testi Rossa in the past). The team members insist their F-Body is a real Trans Am; however, the rear-bumper attachments are not official TruckNutz™ but some kind of cheap knock-off. Nevertheless, the $500 Trans Am’s performance is so overwhelming that the team have on at least one occasion driven the uncomfortably veiny accessory right off their heap and then on subsequent laps had to avoid crushing the nuts that had flopped onto the racing surface.
That’s Real Racing™.
The challenger in this match-up was Bad Decisions Racing’s U-Body Pontiac Trans Sport van, known colloquially as the Dustbuster®, which was coincidentally a label the Bad Decisions crew embraced in its first outing at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway last April. They returned for a second try at Autobahn with their Trans Sport transformed into Princess Vespa’s Mercedes spaceship from Spaceballs. Sure, parts were falling off the van on Test ‘n’ Tune day, but the team appeared unconcerned.
The stage was set for an epic and long-awaited battle of GM platforms: F-Body vs. U-Body. With the race at Autobahn running a full 24 hours (rather than the usual two-session race), surely the Trans Am would stomp the hideous minivan by hundreds of miles.
What really happened in the F-U Showdown will, of course, come as no surprise to anyone who has been around LeMons for any length of time. Like most low-buck Firebirds, the Dumar ES Trans Am suffered a cascade of failures that left it sitting forlorn in its paddock space as the sun set over a scorching-hot summer racing day (hence the on-track shot coming from a different race when the car actually ran a bit). While they didn’t finish completely last in the standings, the Trans Am’s 36 laps weren’t exactly setting the world on fire either, no matter how hard the car’s persistent fuel leaks tried.
The Trans Sport’s 3.8-liter V6, meanwhile, ran like a train with its double-stacked headlights pointing the way throughout the night. The van also generated some serious racing credibility with glowing brake rotors—just like Corvettes at Le Mans—each time the driver tried desperately to arrest two-ton people mover’s inertia. Not only did the Trans Sport log 278 more laps than the Trans Am, it also turned a fastest lap of 2:04, which was more than eight seconds faster than the worn-out old F-Body’s quickest circuit.
In the F-U Pontiac battle, U wins hands-down.