The wagons of the 24 Hours of LeMons Traveling Circus have been leaking fluids onto Sonoma Raceway (located on the Northern California geographical feature known as Sears Point) since way the hell back in 2010, the era of the People’s Curse and shock collars for trouble-prone racers. We returned last month and put 148 hoopties onto the fabled Sonoma Raceway road course; here’s what happened.
The weather was perfect for racing, with none of the rain that has submerged Northern California all winter long, and so we had high hopes that the dry track conditions would mean fewer spins, offs, and crashes than we have come to expect from a wet Sears track.
The good news is there were fewer incidents than usual, but the bad news is that several veteran LeMons cars got tangled up with other cars and/or concrete walls and suffered career-ending damage. Forcibly retired cars included the longtime top-contending Roadrace Jones aka Lipstick On a Pig Nissan Sentra SE-R, the Faustest BMW E30, and the Alfa Romeo Syndicate Ecccelante Alfa Romeo GTV6.
Thanks to the effectiveness of modern safety gear and rigorous inspections by the ever-vigilant LeMons tech crew, no drivers were hurt in these crashes, but we’re saddened by the loss of these West Coast veteran cars, two of which had taken overall wins in past races. Because the Syndicate Eccelante Alfa was so pretty prior to its wreck, we awarded the team the I Got Screwed award.
The Most Heroic Fix award also went to an Alfa Romeo team, in this case the Alfetta-driving Team Type 1 Diabetes Awareness. A few months ago, this 1978 Alfa Romeo was being daily-driven on the streets of Seattle, but then it got T-boned by an inattentive driver and its entire right side got smashed beyond repair.
The team— which is just two guys— opted to cage the car and race it 800 miles to the south. Unfortunately, their cage builder didn’t do such a great job of reading our specifications, and the car failed the Friday tech inspection on many counts. The team didn’t give up, though, and they managed to get the car through the tech inspection and onto the track on Saturday morning…
…at which point their sonorous Twin Cam engine fired a connecting rod through the side of the engine block. The team began the process of removing the offending rod and piston and running as a three-banger, but the engine turned out to be seized and oil galleys destroyed to boot. We were so impressed by their miraculous cage fix, though, that the judges of the LeMons Supreme Court deemed the achievement worthy of a Heroic Fix trophy.
In case you were wondering which team turned the most laps and took home the overall and Class A wins, our not-so-shocking news is that Eyesore Racing and their “ghettocharged” Mazda Miata have done it once again.
The Eyesores got sick of the difficulties involved with finding their favorite racing tires in 14″ diameter, and so they scrounged up some 15″ wheels and performed some precision fender clearancing (i.e., high-ranking engineers from Mazda and SpaceX jumped up and down on the decklid while an award-winning automotive journalist used a baseball bat to bend the much-tortured Frankenmiata’s sheet metal).
The Eyesores have been too
lazy busy to get around to upgrading to a capacious fuel cell from their stock 10-gallon fuel tank, which means they have to do one more fuel stop during a race session than do most of their competitors. However, the Eyesore drivers are very quick at getting through Sears Point traffic without incident, and when one of their longer-ranged rivals has a problem— e.g., Cerveza Racing breaks a throttle cable on their BMW E28 5-Series— they take advantage immediately.
The Rotary Rooter Mazda RX-7 swapped leads with the Eyesore Frankenmiata for the rest of the weekend, and finished the race just four laps back when Eyesore Racing took the checkered flag and their latest overall LeMons win.
Congratulations on your eighth overall 24 Hours of LeMons win, Eyesore Racing! And if any of you racers want to know all of the Eyesore car-building secrets, here they are (and if you’d like to see how team captain Dave Coleman got a stock Sentra to run 14s at the dragstrip back in his Sport Compact Car days, read this).
Petty Cash aka Crap-Can Mixed-Tape Dating Club Racing, not satisfied with campaigning a machine with solid rear and front axles, built this goofy-looking Volkswagen Jetta a few years back. The Petty Cash Jetta had been a miserable failure in LeMons racing, more or less, so we felt comfortable classing it with the Ford Crown Vics and Chevy S-10s of Class B at this race.
This weekend, though, the Jetta ran the whole time and wasn’t especially slow, and Crap-Can Mixed-Tape Dating Club won Class B by a pair of laps over the Dirty Duck Racing Volkswagen Golf.
After several years of chasing a Class C win, Rancho de Llama and their Volvo Amazon finally pulled off the feat. This 51-year-old, B230-swapped Swede finished 28th out of 148 entries, beating most of the event’s BMWs and Porsches in the process.
Now that U-Wrench-It yards are overflowing with discarded Chevy and GMC trucks equipped with the Vortec 4800/5300/5700 small-block V8s referred to as “LS engines” by Internet Car Experts, quite a few LeMons teams have been
ruining improving their race cars by tearing out the stock engines and giving them the sort-of-an-LS-swap treatment. At the ’17 Sears Pointless race, we had two BMW E36s, one Mazda RX-7, and one Toyota Supra with such swaps, and the results were predictable: the best of this bunch finished in 39th place.
Which isn’t to say that we disapprove of creating nose-heavy monstrosities via Detroit V8 swaps into once-nimble imports. Nut Sack Racing opted to replace the four-cylinder truck engine in their 1983 Toyota Celica with a Ford 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8 and C4 automatic transmission and won the Judges’ Choice trophy at their very first LeMons race.
We especially liked the huge slot cut into the Nut Sack Racing Celica’s hood, to make room for the biggest truck radiator the team was able to find at Pick-n-Pull. The team did 211 laps in their debut race, edging out the As Seen On TV Kia Rio for 100th place.
Subpar Motorsports, inspired by the lovably disturbing Japanese cartoons on Exedy clutch-kit instruction manuals, created this new team T-shirt design. We think it’s one of the best team shirts yet, and we have seen plenty.
The teachers and parents of Blue Oak School, in nearby Napa, ran three cars at the ’17 Sears Pointless, including a Ford Mustang, a Mazda Protegé, and a BMW 318.
After the Hooniverse Ford Ranchero got destroyed at the 2016 Sears Pointless race, team captain and occasional LeMons Supreme Court justice Tim Odell obtained a replacement 1962 Ranchero and got it ready in time for Sears Pointless 2017. The Huevos Ranchero v2.0 had some first-race bugs but it’s faster than Huevos Ranchero v1.0 and should contend for a Class C win in the future.
Because it’s not a real race until you get two 1960s cartrucks on the track at the same time, we were excited to see the Wasted Potential 1963 Rambler American “Ramblero” competing against the Huevos Ranchero. The Ramblero beat the Ranchero this time, 278 to 60 total laps.
Myopic Motorsports and their 1995 Ford Thunderbird have run the Sears Pointless race every year since 2011, and during that time they have outdone all the other California teams when it comes to creating gloriously incomprehensible themes for their team. This time, they became an homage to Belgian surrealist René Magritte, with the drivers representing one of Magritte’s best-known paintings, The Son of Man.
The T-Bird became The Treachery of Images, complete with Citroën hood ornament, roof-mounted giant pipe, and Ceci n’est pas une citron lettering below the car number.
This makes it art, and I should know.
One of the best things about the Myopic Motorsports car-themings is that each successive theme builds upon the previous one, with the team incorporating elements of previous incarnations into the build. This means you can still see evidence of the team’s 2013 Bozo Texino decor.
And, of course, the giant wings from the Bosozoku Texino theme of 2014 are still there.
The chickens of the Bosozoku Texino Egg-Laying Machino still live on the Magrittemobile, and the team plans an even more ambitious theme for next year. For all this, we felt compelled to issue the Organizer’s Choice trophy to Myopic Motorsports.
As for the Index of Effluency, the top prize of the 24 Hours of LeMons, Re-Start Racing somehow managed to get their wretched, flagger-themed 1991 Ford Ranger to 46th place during the course of the weekend and that accomplishment earned them the big trophy.
To view the judge-shot gallery of Sears Pointless 2017 photos, go here; to see the official timing-and-scoring results, go here; to follow all the latest LeMons action, head over to the Home of the 24 Hours of LeMons on Roadkill.