Welcome to the second installment of Roadkill Kitchen. This one doesn’t feature a tank, an awful pizza, a poorly assembled video, or an indestructible cat. Instead, it features three of our competitors from the Monterey Car Weeeeak Lemons Rally in August. If you’ve been on a road trip, you know that living on gas-station sandwiches and fast food gets old. These three rally teams, however, came up with awesome ways to stay fed with real(ish) foods on the 2,300-mile route.
Lemons’ self-styled “baconista,” a man known colloquially as “Soggy,” bought this 1985 Volkswagen Jetta TDI sight unseen for the rally. If you don’t know Soggy, he occasionally races a French Simca 1204 but usually spends race weekends cooking more than 100 pounds of thick-cut slab bacon (and other delicacies) for the Lemons paddock. When the Pennsylvanian arrived in Southern California to collect the diesel Volkswagen, he didn’t bother checking any mechanical components. After all, the engine ran and the five-speed transmission shifted. What more could you want?
Instead, he spent all of his prep time converting the heater core into a way to a rally-route slow-cooker. He ran thick coolant hoses over the top of the car. That’s taking the hood (partially) off for better-than-Roadkill reasons.
The hoses went directly to a cheap cooler fitted with spiraled copper tubing inside. The process was pretty easy: Put food inside the copper spiral, drive for six to eight hours, and then enjoy a meal. Brilliant! While his prime rib came out a bit rare, the store-bought marinated ribs he cooked through Oregon and Washington turned out nicely.
Soggy had also brought his camping stove and a few 10-pound slabs of uncut bacon along for the ride. While he cooked some of it the first day, he spent most of the final morning at Concours d’Lemons frying up bacon on the lawn at Seaside City Hall while wearing fuzzy pig slippers. Lemons is all about firsts like that.
Soggy wasn’t the only one preparing hot lunch on the road. Todd Holyoake and A.J. Horner also cooked some pork loin under the hood of their ‘67 El Camino.
There wasn’t much more to it than that. No elaborate mechanisms, just a pork loin wrapped in many aluminum-foil layers. The rolled-up loin slotted neatly into the recess between valve cover and carb on the intake manifold.
As for their ride, Holyoake borrowed the El Camino for the rally. It had once belonged to his uncle and had been nice, but some rough days had befallen both the chassis and engine. Holyoake and Horner found a replacement 327 block and they slapped a set of late-model Small-Block Chevy heads from a ‘96 van on the engine. Machining? Pfffft. They just bolted those suckers on there.
Aside from the occasional Louisville Slugger fender-clearancing, they had few problems. When the Rally’s Buick Wildcat broke down just three blocks from the hotel in Santa Cruz, Holyoake and Horner took the lead in diagnosing and helping get the newly engaged couple’s Buick to relative safety. That kind of camaraderie is the Eau d’Lemons.
These mobile kitchens solve the biggest problem of road trips: surviving on gas-station food. Chris Andropoulous and Jamie Hermus came up with a solution that also solved another problem: They made their rally mascot—necessary for scoring at the rally’s checkpoints—from food they cooked in their Copart-purchased Alfa Romeo GTV6.
This Alfa Romeo had at one time been a 1980s magazine cover car in a sports car magazine long before Andropoulous and Hermus took delivery of it at a wrecking yard. After they got it running, the couple took the GTV6 to a Cars and Coffee event. They noticed one attendee looking over the car with great care and when they struck up a conversation, they discovered they were talking to the author of the magazine feature about the car!
When it came time for the rally, Hermus made a funnel out of aluminum foil and a simple cardboard box to fit in the hatchback. That turned into a solar oven for individual-sized pizzas. The oven worked best in places like the high desert in central Washington and Central Oregon as well as California’s Central Valley, but they found enough sun for snack-sized pizzas on the first two days, too.
Unfortunately, they forgot to bring a mascot to use on the rally, but they had a solution: They used the first pizza as their mascot. Since it looked like Nicola Romeo—or rather it didn’t not look like the Alfa Romeo founder—they made their mascot into a blessed-virgin-spotting-style pie.
Knowing the way that Lemons works, this is the tip of the iceberg for future Rallies. Lemons competitors love one-upsmanship so we fully expect more elaborate mechanisms and gourmet foods for the upcoming Retreat From Moscow Rally in January 2018. You can see the full 2018 Lemons Rally schedule right here on Roadkill and get more info on the Lemons Rally website.