The general impression of the 24 Hours of LeMons to those who haven’t attended a race is that it’s a bunch of tired, obscure, and weird cars dropping oil and parts all over the track. While those cars do exist—typically with less oil- and parts-dropping than expected—the majority of a given field are extremely tired versions of sports cars and kinda-sporty economy cars. Among those exhausted sports cars are typically a glut of front-engined Porsches that—despite Internet Car Experts’ insistence that they’re all worth thousands of dollars—can still be found without serious difficulty. Most are forgettable and terribly unreliable, but the odd Porsche like the Porsche 924 of F.A.C.E. Racing occasionally stands out in the crowd of Class A cars
The F.A.C.E. Racing car is no typical 924, however. The first thing the Ohio-based team did was chuck out the 2.5-liter Porsche four-cylinder engine that came with their hooptie old sports car. Since engine swaps are common enough in the 924/944 family, that made enough sense. This is where things start to get LeMony, though; instead of an American V8 or something to that effect, F.A.C.E. instead threw a General Motors 4.3-liter V6—the same one used in millions of GM trucks, SUVs, and vans as well as a ghettocharged Datsun 240Z you might know—into the Teutonic engine bay.
That’s not even the crazy part. The 924 (and 944) originally featured rear-mounted transaxles, which are typically discarded when swapping engines for a more standard differential setup. F.A.C.E.’s “Porschevy 924.3” bucks that swap trend, too: To this very day, the car retains the original transaxle setup.
“Doesn’t that kind of drivetrain mash-up create problems?” you ask. And the answer is: Very much so, yes. During the car’s first five races, it completed a total of 100 laps. The transaxle, halfshafts, and clutch—a nightmarish thing to replace on the 924 and 944—were problematic at the beginning. After sorting those, they then found chronic overheating problems with the 4.3-liter V6.
However, F.A.C.E. team focused on the important things in the meantime, like turning the 924 into a replica of Carl Brutananadilewski’s Dodge Stealth from the Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force, complete with faithful costumes of both Carl and Dr. Weird.
The team never seems bothered about being competitive. They take their time during driver changes when the car is running and leisurely troubleshoot issues when it isn’t. During BS Inspection, the conversation usually includes statements like “We don’t really care what class we end up in, we’re not trying to win” and “We think we’ve improved to about a 10 percent chance of finishing now that we’ve added carbon-fiber side mirrors.”
F.A.C.E. finally sorted their issues enough to run a best-ever 133 laps last October at Autobahn Country Club. While the winner logged 497 laps at that race, the LeMons Supreme Court judges thought that F.A.C.E. more than doubling their output from the previous five races and actually finishing the race with a running car merited the Judges Choice trophy.
Take notes here, LeMons racers: The attitude of having fun while including unscheduled naps and sandwich breaks might just earn you a trophy.