The 24 Hours of LeMons has developed an image as a greasy racing series—mostly based on its never-fear-grime contingent of diehards—but several times a year, the series sneaks a date at a beautiful racing facility or two. This weekend’s “Shine Country Classic” is one such weekend, taking place on the pristine, manicured grounds of Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Barber’s layout includes an incredible racing museum and an extremely technical 2.38-mile road course rife with elevation change that actually gave some drivers at last year’s race motion sickness (Barfing in the racecar is not recommended).
Last year’s race was ended early on account of incredibly dangerous deluge, but early-week weather reports suggest clear skies for racing. Barber has another event schedule for Friday, so teams won’t have paddock access until Friday evening at 5 p.m. and inspections will start after that. Sunday’s racing will also feature a quiet hour with no racing. In all, 77 teams have signed up and you can see all of them on the unofficial entry list here, but read on after the jump for even more words.
This begins our class-by-class preview of the weekend’s LeMons racing. We’ll start as we usually do with the most interesting class, Class C, with cars that are least likely to be considered racecars by sane human beings. Few of these cars were ever intended to be driven in a spirited manner and the few that were did so a half century ago.
Classes are, of course, decided at the track the day before the race begins by Judge Phil and the esteemed members of the LeMons Supreme Court. My word on this is only speculative and based on a sickening amount of time following this series. As such, it is prone to error, like many of my decisions in life.
And with that in mind, allow me to present the likely Class C competitors in the form of (really awful) haiku.
#833 Morrows Racing A (“Pontiac XP833.5 Banshee,” some of it possibly pictured above)
Pontiac Six, right?
What the…Is that? Oh my god!
You’re a sick man, Dave.
#59 NSF Racing (Studebaker Silverhawk)
R.V. 360, and scotch.
#230 Knoxvegas Lowballers B (“Big Bertha”)
No idea what,
But with a name like “Bertha,”
What could go wrong here?
#3 and #473 Idle Clatter Racing (Two Mercedes 300SD: one normal and one dressed as a Toyota Hilux, above)
School bus exhaust note.
No hurry; efficient wins.
Two sleepwalking sloths.
#71 Team Sputnik (Plymouth Fury, lead photo)
Not for the timid nor weak.
#41 3 Pedal Mafia (Datsun 720)
It’s no Boat, this truck.
But old pickups are rare here.
Flowers made from brawn.
[Author’s note: Metaphor attempt — Failed]
#57 RetroRacing (Volkswagen Beetle, above)
We may try and fail.
We may try and fail again.
Again, we shall fail.
#64 Team Fairlylame (Ford Fairlane)
For racing on a road course.
Who needs a third line?
#19 Fuzzy Blumpkins (Ford Pinto)
“What is a blumpkin?”
Better off not knowing what.
Pass me the brain bleach.
#33 British Invasion (Triumph Spitfire)
Named after a warbird,
More like “Spit-rod,” amirite?
I am just jealous.
#919 Afunzalo Racing (Fiat X1/9, above)
Fix it again Ton—
Oh, you’ve heard that one before?
#46 Ya’ll (Dodge Daytona)
Ya’ll built a K-Car?!
Or close enough. It could be worse.
Must be new to this.
#68 Swamp Shack Maniacs (Honda Prelude)
The middle class in LeMons is a little like orphans. Some are fairly competent endurance racers inhibited by lack of speed while others are fast cars that drink fuel and break often. To recap: Orphans are slow and competent or fast and drink gasoline. [Author’s note: I should probably have worked on my metaphors more and schemed on building a snow fort in my yard less.]
Anyway, this is also sometimes the providence of cars that have won their way out of Class C with a victory or two there. Regardless of how they got there, this tends to be a very diverse and interesting class.
No haiku here, sorry. Bring a crappier car next time.
#48 Inglorious Bastards B (Ford Pinto, above) – The hopelessly hooptie Car & Driver-painted Pinto returns.
#32 Speedycop A (Honda Accord-ion) – Crapcan racing’s resident madman continues the quest for the final LeMons trophy he has yet to win. The automatic Accordion has come painfully close before; could this be the very race where Speedycop nails down history no one else had ever even thought about before?
#0 Morrows Racing (AMC Gremlin) – Yes, not only is Dave Morrow bringing a certifiably crazy Class C entry, he’ll also have his “normal” car: an AMC Gremlin powered by the supercharged 3.8-liter V6 from Pontiac Grand Prix.
#97 and #130 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Ford Contour SVT and Geo Metro/Duratec V6) – The Lowballers’ V6 Metro remains an quick-but-unreliable steed while their Contour is undoubtedly the best LeMon running on the Mondeo platform.
#101 Byte Marks Racing (Ford Escort, above) – Another Escort from Chicagoland; this should be a good battle of Ford Escorts.
#701 Generar Ree (Datsun 240Z) – It’s the General Lee but, you know, Japanese. [Groans]
#351 Tetanus Racing (Datsun 240Z) – Supremely average racing team Tetanus have perhaps a new steed. I hope that car number means it has a Ford 351 Windsor under its bonnet.
#86 Team Sputnik B (Toyota Corolla) – A #86 1985 Corolla? Could it be?
#40 Mock Grass Racing (Kia Sephia) – Rental appliance grade is actually two quality steps above LeMons grade.
#66 Purple Hays (Ford Mustang, above) – These poor souls have lingered around LeMons for years with their four-cylinder Mustang. Looks better than factory.
#77 Shark Bait Racing (Datsun 280Z) – The Deities of Bad Luck repeatedly strike this Z team, but we appreciate shark-themed cars, even if they lack the incredible resemblance to a feeding whale shark of a late 1960s Thunderbird.
#420 PBR (Subaru Outback) – This remains one of the more reliable Subarus in LeMons, which means I’ve probably just cursed them.
#8 Junk Dynasty (Ford Mustang) – This Mustang’s backfire nearly melted my face when it first went through inspection last year at Gingerman. Turns out that firing order matters. They’ve since sorted the car a bit, but it teeters on the brink of terrible, as most LeMons pony cars do.
#9 Thrift Shop Racing (Mazda 323) – A Mazda team from Wyoming. WYOMING.
This at least brings us to Class A for the cars with actual potential to win the race. These cars also vary in terms of power and weight with the heavy hitters, as we’ll see, but the top competitors have all been very successful in the Midwest races and they’ll be hoping to translate that to a win in the South. On a strategy note, the lack of Friday testing should give a slight advantage to teams who ran Barber last year since the ostensibly know the track better.
Additionally, the quiet hour on Sunday breaks the day of racing up nicely so that a team in position to win after Saturday can run 2-1/2 hour stints with only one in-race fuel stop. This gives a huge advantage over teams with less fuel capacity and/or efficiency. Strategy: It even exists in the cheapest of endurance racing.
Noticeably absent from this race are last year’s winners, the RC Spiders Mercedes 190E Cosworth, and six-time LeMons winners Hong Norrth Racing in their Mazda MX-3. With only two previous winners in the field, that leaves the very likely chance for a first-time overall winner.
#732 and #132 Speedycop (Honda Civic, above, and Toyota MR2) – A year ago, Speedycop brought this B20-swapped Civic to Barber to work out its kinks. Strangely enough, it worked; the car won at Gingerman Raceway last Easter. The MR2 is hopelessly bad and truly wretched if it rains.
#36 Save the Ta-Tas Racing (Chevy Camaro) – To date, the Ta-Tas have the only Camaro to ever win a race. This one now sports the Vortec V8 from a truck. I don’t know if that will make it any better; the car usually fries the clutch, the brakes, or both.
#262 Vermont Bert One (Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe) – The country-crossing Bert One lands at Barber after racing in four far-flung states last year. They scored several Top 10s in 2014 and could finally get a win for a Redblock-powered 200 Series.
#44 Landshark (Acura Integra) – These guys missed a win at Road America by less than two seconds. They’re prone to late-race runs up the standings because they can drive very long stints, making up their time while the other teams change drivers.
#335 Road Warrior Racing (BMW E30, above) – The Mad Max-themed E30 is one of the longest-running LeMons cars. And it still looks badass. They’re also entirely capable of winning.
#99 Basil Weenie Racing (BMW E30) – Just another good E30 here. Nothing to see.
#67 TARP Racing Shenanigans (BMW E36) – TARP’s Cookie Monster Warlord-themed convertible E36 was spectacular enough on its own at its debut, but the TARP team have been around and know how to put together a race.
#929 Come Monday Motorsports (Porsche 928) – This 928 nearly made it an unheard-of Porsche 1-2 at Sebring last summer before the car’s V8 puked all over the track in the final 30 minutes. Yeah, they’ll do that.
#197 Frankenstein Motorworks (Toyota MR2) – The car—the work of mad crapcan genius Marc Labranche—has the 270-horsepower V6 out of a Toyota Sienna stuffed in it. It also runs Labranche’s own prototype ECM; it will probably get docked a few penalty laps, but it’s mostly a test bed for said ECM rather than a real try at winning. Most importantly, this will be one of the fastest cars on the track along with the aforementioned Camaro and Porsche 928.
#511 Inglorious Bastards (Ford Thunderbird) – After many long years and thousands of highway towing miles, the Bastards at last won Class B in their crappy Thunderbird last fall.
#212 Silver Bullets (Nissan 240SX) – This is routinely one of the fastest cars in the Southern LeMons races, including running the fastest lap at Barber last year.
#157 and #751 Terminally Confused (Honda Civic and Honda CRX) – Every race, this team insists they’re hopeless. And every race, they put a car in the Top 10 or have both running in the Top 10 for long stretches of time. More importantly, this team has developed a reputation around the paddock for being all-around good people, which is really the whole goshdarn point of LeMons.
#128 CarolinaHondas.com/Duff Beer Civic (Honda Civic) – Another Class B graduate, having won teh class easily at Sebring last summer.
#104 Our Lady of Perpetual Downforce (Honda Civic) – It’s all in the name.
#72 Eagle Racing (Eagle Talon) – It is a brave team who attempt to race a DSM product.
#61 Emily’s Power for the Cure (Mazda RX-7) – In last year’s season recap, we mentioned this car completed only 14 laps over two races. We are pulling hard for them to do better this time around.
#28 Team NonSequitur (Acura Integra) – Beauty is not unwrinkled body panels. This car has been through the wars and is still the stereotypical “well-prepared Integra with a chance.”
#21 Masters of the McRib (BMW E30) – An exciting racecar, even though the animal from which they make the McRib is now extinct.
#124 Team Dickbutt (Mercedes E500) – Voted “Most Likely to Mortify Parents Who Have Brought Their Children to the Track.”
#12 Squirtin’ Coronas (Mercedes 300E) – Last year’s Class B winner at this race. Add lime.
#161 Zero Energy Racing (Honda Del Sol) – Fun fact: There are 8,000 Hondas at this race.
#797 White Trash Racing (Dodge Neon) – This team believe so wholeheartedly that they belong in Class B that they make the most half-assed arguments at every race and always end up in Class A instead. Again, the important thing is that they have a good sense of humor and cook some mean ribs.
You can follow the race via live timing from Specialty Timing, who run LeMons timing & scoring. For those so inclined, here is some perhaps-relevant information.
|HEY LOOK AT THIS USELESS CRAP|
|Friday Tech and BS Inspections||7 p.m.(-ish) to 9 p.m.|
|Saturday Race Session||9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Sunday Race Session||9 a.m. to 11 a.m. & 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Lap Record||1:48.424 by The Silver Bullets (Nissan 240SX)|
|Overall Winner||2014 – RC Spiders (Mercedes 190E)|
|Class B Winner||2014 – Squirtin’ Coronas (Mercedes 300E)|
|Class C Winner||2014 – Knoxvegas Lowballers (Geo Metro/V6)|
|Index of Effluency Winner||2014 – Knoxvegas Lowballers (Geo Metro/V6)|
[Photos: Murilee Martin]