In October, the 24 Hours of LeMons turns 10 years old. Let that sink in for a bit. We idiots have been caning tired old hoopties for a full decade come autumn, and to commemorate the good and (mostly) bad ideas of the past, we figure we ought to catch our Roadkill readers up some on of the goings-on over the years. Let’s start with the 2011 season opener, a memorable race for several reasons, which ended five years ago almost to the day this is published.
The 2011 season began with “Southern Discomfort” in Kershaw, South Carolina, at Carolina Motorsports Park, a track that has been a staple of the LeMons calendar since 2008. Among the early highlights was this Ford Galaxie 500 brought by Jeff “SpeedyCop” Bloch and his Gang of Outlaws.
One of Speedycop’s gang, Doug Kirchberg, helped paint up the car like Parnelli Jones’ NASCAR Fairlane. The Galaxie got a 5.0-liter V8 from a Fox Body Mustang and with a liberal application of body filler and a couple healthy coats of tractor paint, the Parnelli Jones Galaxie looked great.
The Galaxie ran reasonably well and finished third in class, despite a bit of time here and there in the pits.
To date, it’s the only Galaxie to have raced in LeMons and its primary builder and longtime owner, Doug Kirchberg, recently sold it to some poor bastards who broke its driveshaft during its first race.
Southern Discomfort 2011 also saw the debut of Sputnik, a team of now-faithful LeMons racers who have gone way off the deep end (their “normal” car is a Nissan GA16DE-swapped Porsche 924). Their misadventures started, however, with a fairly innocuous Nissan Stanza Wagon.
(Author’s note: I failed to mention in the original edit, but this Stanza served for at least some amount of time as the team captain’s apartment parking-lot storage unit and/or dumpster before they opted to turn it into a LeMons car.)
The little Stanza’s body roll nearly scraped away the rocker panels, but it soldiered on unabated. Not only did it win Class C (i.e. the “Ugly” class) at its debut, the Stanza went on to sweep Class C at its first three races.
Of course, the Stanza saga ended at CMP in 2013 when the team’s maniacally grinning Russian team captain inexplicably chopped out integral structural parts of the Stanza with a reciprocating saw. It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that the same race saw the team inherit the Worst LeMons Car of All Time (WLCOAT).
Sputnik’s downward spiral began the moment the aforementioned Russian took over the WLCOAT’s keys, but hey, the Stanza kicked ass at its first three races.
The team would add a second #39 MX-3 to their stable in
2012 2011, but the #38 MX-3 Hong Norrth went undefeated in 2011 with four five consecutive wins, an unmatched feat. The Atlanta-based team were often accused of cheating with hot motors in the little hatchbacks, but a few dyno runs brought the truth to light: The MX-3’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine put fewer than 120 horsepower to the wheels. Power isn’t everything in road racing.
Like NSF’s subsequent four IOE winners, the Fury was dredged from the swamp with no aspirations to correct the Central Florida patina.
Sure, Jay Lamm insisted vehemently that NSF “rebuild the entire brake system before their junk could return to the track” and the 340 left smoke clouds denser than you’d find at a Phish concert, but the Fury and its keepers persisted, giving their hopeless Mopar a deserved first IOE.
Of course, after the race was over, Hong Norrth’s driver unexpectedly stopped at the start-finish line to make a checkered flag victory. Naturally, the Fury and Galaxie were “speeding” up the front straight—as much as either wheezing V8 hooptie could speed, anyway—for one last pull. The Galaxie scooted around the suddenly stopped MX-3 while the Fury’s periodically missing brakes weren’t able to slow the Detroit iron enough to end the race in a dust-up. Ironically, the Fury got the worst of it.
As far as we know, it’s the only instance of an Index of Effluency winner shunting an overall winner after the race’s end. The incident is immortalized on the hood mural of NSF’s Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo.
Elsewhere in the paddockTerminally Confused also were seen taking a Sawzall to the rocker arm(s) in their Honda Civic’s motors, which earned them a Heroic Fix trophy for making a three-cylinder engine the hard way.
That might have been the craziest thing of the weekend, had it not been for the jet-powered golf cart in the paddock that has since been perma-banned by the Fun Police.
Of course, that only covers a small percent of the weekend’s action. Look for more LeMons time capsules soon here on Roadkill.