24 Hours of LeMons: 2013 Season Wrapup

lemons 24 andy

Another 24 Hours of LeMons season–the series’ eighth–and it has seen the typical motherlode of good racing and insane builds. There’s a lot to cover and I’m only barely scratching the surface of the thousands upon thousands of stories from each team and driver this year. Feel free to add your own highlights in the comments and read along after the break.

Before diving into the winners, I should probably give a brief rundown of how the points work. Each entry that makes it to the green flag earns three points. Additional points are awarded for the Top 10 in any race, with the winner receiving 10 points, second place receiving nine points, and so on until 10th place receives a one bonus point. To answer the question you’re likely considering, it is possible to rack up points simply by entering a lot of cars. It’s a strategy that has parsed out for the last three winners: SHOtime in 2011, Speedycop & the Gang of Outlaws in 2012, and this year’s winners.

National/East Region Winners: Rally Baby Racing

rally_baby

Rally Baby set out at the beginning of this season to win the national title and they accomplished their goal through sheer numbers. Rally Baby managed to limp enough of their heaps to the green flag to win the national title with 84 points. Not all of those points were points for arriving, however; Rally Baby added former race winners Duct Tape Motorsports under their banner, netting a pair of top five performances from the DTM E30 that ultimately made the difference over the runners up. Most of Rally Baby’s fleet would be considered cheaty Class A cars, except Rally Baby manage to bungle their way through races in a way that only a LeMons national champion could. That said, their squishily sprung, ghettocharged AMC Hornet took home Index of Effluency honors in its debut at Monticello Motors Club in April.

National Runners Up: Speedycop & His Gang of Outlaws

speedycop

Last year’s winner Speedycop tallied 71 points, including a few points for a Top 10 finish in his very quick Lexus SC400. But anyone who knows anything about LeMons knows that Speedycop made a name for himself this year by constructing and competing with cars that create existential crises. At the season opener, he debuted the fantastic Spirit of Lemons, a Cessna 310 grafted onto a Toyota Spacevan chassis (and one of three LeMons’ Hooniversal Car of the Year nominees). A few races later, he followed that up with the incongruous Upside-Down Camaro, a fourth-generation Camaro body mounted upside-down on a bone-stock Ford Festiva chassis. Finally, he built a Honda Accord-sized accordion. Along the way, he’s also adopted a few teams to run under the Speedycop name with a Toyota Celica, a four-cylinder Ford Mustang, his old Mercury Cougar (run by some chaps at Blipshift), and a 1960 Ford Falcon. What will next year bring? Likely a lot more of Speedycop’s trademark insanity.

National/Gulf Region Drivers Champion: Anton Lovett

anton_2

This makes three drivers’ championships for Anton Lovett, who spends many of his weekends in a given year following LeMons like it’s some kind of greasy, gritty Grateful Dead tour. He’s handy with a wrench, he can set up most cars, and Anton isn’t too shabby in the drivers’ seat, either. Look for him to DOMINATE California races next year with his Cimarron-badged Chevy Cavalier.

National Drivers Runners Up: The Silver Errors – Ziegel Scheißhaus

ziegel

The national drivers’ champion runners up campaign a terrifically fast and consistent Mercedes 190E. After showing flashes of promise early in the year, they made good with their first two wins  at New Jersey Motorsports Park and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. All told, the Silver Errors entered five races this season and their worst finish was sixth place at Carolina Motorsports Park in the fall. They have all the makings of a dominant team, but the East Region contains a whole lot of teams capable of making them earn their wins.

East Region Drivers Champion: Irv Stein (Keystone Kops)

keystone_kops

The Keystone Kops run a pair of Volvos and their team captain, Irv Stein, happens to own a Volvo dealership. The Kops are another very, very competent team in the East with five Top 10 finishes this year, including very narrowly missing a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this spring. Aside from a slight stumble at Monticello, every Keystone Kops entry finished in the Top 25 this year. Look for them to put together a strong season again in 2014.

Gulf Team Champions: Tetanus Racing

tetanus

Texas stalwarts Tetanus Racing managed to just eek out a regional championship by two points. One could suggest that the two points from their Dodge Neon’s ninth-place finish at Eagles Canyon Raceway rendered the decision, but that’s no fun. Rather, the team adopted the craptacular NSF Racing/K-It-Forward Plymouth Reliant for the spring race at ECR (with the help of OK Speed’s Justin Howe and a whole host of similarly miserable enablers). Despite blowing up an engine in practice, the K Car managed to take to the track under its own power, securing Tetanus the necessary three entry points to edge past the two-Jeep TGTW Offroad Racing team.

Midwest Team Champions: Save the Ta-Tas Racing

savethetatas

How fitting that the Midwest saw an even closer championship race than the Gulf. Save the Ta-Tas Racing (above)—notable for finally, after nearly 100 races, capturing the first overall win for a Chevy Camaro—just barely edged out three different teams for the title by a single point. Sideways to Victory IV, S***box Racing, and Back to the Past all scored 22 points to the Ta-Tas’ 23. Of those, Back to the Past (who are from Texas) only ran two region races, scoring a heap of Top 10 points at High Plains Raceway and Road America. If that wasn’t close enough, The Blue Shells finished two points back and Little Lebowski Urban Achievers three points. So what? Well, neither of those teams showed up at the region’s final race at Road America.

Midwest Drivers Champions: LemonAid Racing

lemonaid

With the regional championship race going down the wire, it’s no surprise then that the drivers’ champions also took a race down to the seconds. LemonAid Racing won the closest LeMons race in history, holding off a determined Landshark squad by a mere 2.5 seconds at Road America. You can read all about it here.

South Team/Driver Champions: Racing Nemo

racing_nemo

Racing Nemo have been around for a long time in their Clownfish-painted E30 and they’ve been a good team for most of that time. This year, they put together a solid race at this fall’s Carolina Motorsports Park to win their first race while also nabbing a podium in the spring CMP race. Silver Errors also managed two Top 10 finishes at CMP to come a close second, just four points behind.

West Team/Driver Champions: Cerveza Racing

cerveza

Officially, Harry Demas of Cerveza is the region’s driver champion, having registered himself in the team’s (awful) second car, but what really matters is that Cerveza’s BMW E28 dominated the region for a second consecutive year. Heading into the season-ending race at Sonoma Raceway, Cerveza had finished on the podium in eight consecutive races and won five of those. That’s an incredible record over the course of more than 100 hours of racing. A mechanical issue broke that streak at the season ender, but they’d wrapped up the season championship long before the green flag flew at that race.

 

K-Car

But who cares about those winners? The real character comes from the real losers and nothing proved more capable at losing than the NSF Racing/K-It-Forward/Worst LeMons Car of All Time (WLCOAT) Plymouth Reliant. Teams passed it around all season long, ticking off the boxes on its myriad of accomplishments and a longer list of failures, some of which are described in my Hooniversal Car of the Year nomination.

moldecarlo

The above-mentioned Save the Ta-Tas Camaro may have picked up the first F-Body win in LeMons history, but GM scored its first ever victory a couple months prior when Moldecarlo’s Chevy Monte Carlo took home victory in the season opener at Carolina Motorsports Park. Not to be outdone, Porch Racing decided to bookend the season with first-time, long-overdue wins by earning Porsche’s first ever LeMons win in their 944. 

mtgt

The skeletal Model T GT set a new standard of domination this season, as well, by taking home victories in three consecutive outings. That is not a first, but in between race wins, the T GT racked up several thousand highway miles, commuting without a trailer from its California home to Dallas, where it won handily. It returned to California to take home the win at a scorching, triple-digit-temperature race at Buttonwillow Raceway and then headed to Washington two weeks later to win at The Ridge Motorsports Park in the hands of a rental crew. It may be the Model T’s last hurrah, as the owners have decided to rent it out for the foreseeable future.

rolls_royce

But enough about those teams who actually finish in first place. Three Pedal Mafia embody LeMons in every way. Their Rolls Royce Silver Shadow ran two races, winning Index of Effluency at New Hampshire in the fall. To add to their trophy case (which already contains the honorary title of Internet Crapcan Grandmasters Nonpareil), their Sea Sprite-clad Chevy S10 continued another excellent season and the team’s Triumph TR7 completed the New Hampshire IOE sweep by taking that and a Class C victory at NHMS’ spring race.

a_holes_imp

Winning Class C and IOE at one race is nothing particularly new in LeMons, but Flaming A-Holes managed the feat with two different awful British cars at Sears Pointless in March. Their bantamweight, prole-mobile Sunbeam Imp earned IOE honors while the team’s V12-powered Jaguar XJS ran away with Class C by finishing 29th overall in a very large and deep California field.

punisher_gp

Another two-car team, this one with cars built across the English Channel, took home an interesting mix of awards not terribly different. While one of the team’s Peugeot 405 MI16s scooted to a six-lap Class C victory, its sister car made itself Internet-famous by blowing its motor in spectacular fashion. The Boss’ Toyota Celica received a bouncing and airborne Peugeot connecting rod in its windshield, requiring a change of front glass and of the driver’s undergarments.

pro_crash

That, of course, wouldn’t be the only foreign object to ruin a windshield all season. The tough-luck wiseguys from Team Pro Crash Dun Nation were leading early at June’s Capitol Offense race when Summit Point Raceway’s notorious deer population factored into the race. Bambi bounded onto the racing surface directly in front of their Alfa Romeo Milano, shattering the windshield and giving one of the most incredible single frames of video (as shot from Three Pedal Mafia’s Boat) in all of racing history. Pro Crash Duh Nation fashioned a mesh windscreen replacement out of their fuel cart (above, right) and lost very little time and position doing so, but mechanical woes would eventually knock them out of contention.

stick_figure_FX32

Stick Figure Racing once again proved that building a twin-engined car isn’t rocket science. They added a second twin-engined Toyota MR2/Toyota Corolla mashup to their fleet, this one using more Corolla FX16 than the original MRolla. Stick Figure call it the FX32. Stick Figure took home Class B honors at High Plains Raceway and the FX32 also rolled over at another race, but ’twas merely a flesh wound.

austin_marina

The Austin badge got a bit of tarnishing in my LeMons Torture Test update, coming in dead last of 74 car types. That said, Austins took home several Class C wins, including a pair for Mike “Spank” Spangler with his Mini and with his America. He also helped Peter Barrett cobble together one America racecar out of four America-shaped piles of rust in the pit at MSR-Houston. The Austin Powerless Marina won IOE at Capitol Offense and then followed that up with an unlikely Class C victory at the fall CMP race.

dirty_little_freaks

Diesels may be the Next Awful Thing in LeMons. Dirty Little Freaks’  Mercedes 300SD (above) cruised to a 20-lap Class C win at Thunderhill and Idle Clatter’s diesel Benz took home an IOE at its CMP debut. Zero Budget Racing’s former-IOE-winning diesel Chevy Chevette won Class C at Autobahn while their insanely rusty Isuzu I-Mark Diesel earned an IOE at Gingerman Raceway.

morrows_mirage

Morrow’s Racing has long been regarded as one of the many regular LeMons teams full of bad ideas, having build a twin-turbo, mid-engine GMC Van, a Buick 3800-powered Bradley GT, and LeMons’ first Buick Reatta. What they did quietly this year is perhaps a bit more impressive: Their awful Mitsubishi Mirage won Class C and then Class B at consecutive races (Summit Point and CMP, respectively). That makes them about the 30th team with two class wins, but no one’s yet collected them all.

The K-It-Forward Reliant has a much-deserved reputation as a terrible, terrible car, but Rusty Dragon Racing may be yet capable of inheriting the WLCOAT title. The team’s “solutions” to mechanical problems involve making their Mk.2 Volkswagen Golf more complicated each time by several order of magnitude, from a standard VW engine to a random Honda A-series motor to a BMW drivetrain with rear-wheel-drive conversion. The result is a dearth of laps turned, though they must surely be getting good at wrenching, right? Maybe this is a case of the Worst LeMons Team of All Time. Which is to say, in a manner of speaking, the Best LeMons Team of All Time. It’s all very confusing, I suppose. Like their car.

hudson_hornet

LeMons saw its first Flathead engine this year in the gorgeous (from a half-mile away) Chase Race Hudson Hornet. The giant Straight-Six sounded fabulous and the Hornet even managed to finish a lap ahead of the godawful K-Car. Do yourself a favor and watch this video with the sound cranked.

the_homer
Nick Pon/24 Hours of LeMons photo

One can’t mention this season without bringing up my favorite LeMons car, The Homer by Porcubimmer Motors. I’d hoped someone would build this Homer Simpson creation for LeMons at some point, but I was not expecting the absolutely mind-bending detail put into it. But that’s the kind of work LeMons people have come to expect from the Porcubimmer crew. And it even took the Porcubimmer crew on a fantastic odyssey that included international press,  love from thousands of non-gearheads, and Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening’s signature on the car.

Of course, you’re reading this on Hooniverse, so I would feel remiss if I didn’t point out some of the great 24 Hours of LeMons coverage from this year. Our East Coast Editor Kamil Kaluski took a Buick for a spin at this fall’s New Hampshire race while Scott Ith covered Stick Figure’s FX32 build and nominated it for Hooniversal Car of the Year. Jim Yu attended the Sears Pointless race and shot quite a few photos. And this very writer wrote a few tens of thousands of words on LeMons this year, though I’m most proud of my liveblog of the Road America race in November—covering both Saturday and Sunday as they unfolded—and of the updated 24 Hours of LeMons Torture Test results (Read Part 1 here).

sid_brayton
Mark Barnes photo

Finally, in a year marked by a lot of automotive tragedy, LeMons also lost a driver at this fall’s Carolina Motorsports Park Race. Sidney Brayton, a veteran racer and by all accounts someone who loved the series, died of natural causes while at the wheel of the Roper Road Racing Honda Civic. The race was suspended after the incident and restarted later the next day with many teams bearing a stencil of Roper Road’s #22 on them (above).

[Photos: Murilee Martin, except where noted]

 

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28 responses to “24 Hours of LeMons: 2013 Season Wrapup”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Wow, Hudson Hornet race car! Lemons never seizes to surprise. Auto trans?

    1. Eric Rood Avatar

      Pretty sure.
      [youtube gFFxhT5_b-M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFFxhT5_b-M youtube]

      1. buzzboy7 Avatar

        An oil baffle would do this car wonders. It is so stately though, the way it goes around the track.

      2. Bret Dodson Avatar

        Hey, that's me driving that Hudson!
        Yep, it's the stock 4 speed auto. The automatic worked surprisingly well and has completely changed my mind about automatics in race cars.
        The poor old Hudson really does need a baffled oil pan or accusump before it hits the track again. We had a driving style of waiting for the oil pressure light to go out before giving it significant throttle. It would be very fun to be able to unleash the torque hell-hounds of that engine before corner exit.
        If you ever get a chance to see the car in person, check out the roll cage. It's a work of art. Doug Chase, of Chase Race, decided to give this car a super cool cage and did not disappoint. It's like a French Cathedral in there.
        Here's a picture of the car's face:
        <img src="http://startinggrid.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/img_7890.jpg?w=670&h=446"&gt;

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          I think Doug said it's the stock three-speed automatic. I agree he did an amazing job on that cage, with an eye towards compability with the requirements of as many different series as possible. He also did the cage in my 96, which is by far the nicest part of the car.

        2. Sjalabais Avatar

          Exactly the video made me ask – you either shift real quick, on a hidden button or it is an automatic. Surprised to hear that it is one. Do you think the car will be top competitive with the ability to floor it constantly?

          1. Bret Dodson Avatar

            The Hudson will be more fun when we are able to floor it more. It might go around the track a little bit faster, but I don't think by a whole lot. It's a big heavy car that doesn't slow down or change direction very quickly.
            It's not going to be passing many (any?) E30s or Miatas on track, but it will be a ton of fun.

            1. Sjalabais Avatar

              Ah, who cares about E30s and Miatas. Cars like your Hudson add the salt and the Tequila to this LeMon..s.

  2. LTDScott Avatar

    Wow, that's high praise from you about The Homer. I'm just glad it met your – and Matt Groening's – approval! In the end, it's just a crappy BMW with house paint and crap tacked onto it 🙂
    While our team has never been in the running for points, we try to at least hit two races a year. Unfortunately, I had quite a blow in my personal life which made me decide to take the rest of the year off. But I can't complain too much, since our one outing this year resulted in a 5th place finish in hellish temperatures (after a 1am transmission swap) and the resulting press from our 15 minutes of fame kept us busy for a while.
    We're signed up for Sears Pointless in March, without a re-theme. It took a damn long time to get The Homer to look how it does, and quite a bit of work to repair accident damage from the race, so I'm just going to tackle the mechanicals and leave the exterior as-is. After that, I dunno. Being team captain and car owner when most of the team lives too far away to help work on the car is starting to take its toll.

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I don't know if I'd ever have the heart to change the Homer. Some themes are good enough for keeps.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      "Being team captain and car owner when most of the team lives too far away to help work on the car is starting to take its toll."
      You mean it's not normal for the rest of the team to live between 850 and 1100 miles away? I'm doing this wrong, then.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Only 150-500 miles away here, and thankfully I do have an "art director" on the team who comes up with these hare-brained themes and makes them come to life. But being chief, cook, and bottle washer while all of your drivers get to just put in their money and go home once the checkered flag waves is getting a bit old.

        1. Speedycop Avatar

          +1 on that last part, Scott. I've been there. Now, the Outlaws are a part of every build, and A&D's are largely a thing of the past…

          1. LTDScott Avatar

            It wasn't intended to be arrive and drive. I've had the same roster of drivers from the beginning in 2008, but unfortunately the biggest contributors to work on the car before each race have moved away.

  3. cruisintime Avatar

    You have taken all the BS out of racing competition and left the fun part . What Fun….

  4. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Bring more diesels! Compression ignition is the new hot thing I hear.
    Can't wait for Barber in a month. It's going to be amazing!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Would shipping be a part of the car's price, thus affecting admission? Thinking about diesel being the hot new thing in Europe a decade or two ago. High mileage Volvo D5's for instance, taxis and such, sell for a smile.

      1. buzzboy7 Avatar

        I don't think so. Import diesels would be killer.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          NHTSA and EPA rules would still apply, however, so the car would need to be over 25 years old to be importable.
          Oh, and it would need a waiver to run in LeMons, but I suspect that wouldn't be a problem.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            Do they apply even if a car is not registered to be driven on public roads?

            1. mdharrell Avatar

              Yes. Not surprisingly, this question has arisen on the LeMons forums. The only legal way to import a newer car as a race car is if the manufacturer (and it must specifically be the manufacturer) has written a letter stipulating that the vehicle was originally constructed as a race car, not as a street car.
              On the other hand, if somehow a car got into the country by, ahem, other means, it wouldn't need any paperwork to run in LeMons. As far as that goes, if it got seized by Federal agents during the race, the team would probably get a trophy.

              1. Sjalabais Avatar

                Haha, nice twist. That's strange, even in social democratic Norway, you wouldn't need to register a car to be driven on privat roads or race tracks. Honestly, I don't see the point.

                1. mdharrell Avatar

                  It's the same here on that point. Legally it would never need to be registered but it would still need to be in compliance before it could be imported.

                2. Vairship Avatar

                  I think it's because smog doesn't care whether it was generated on a public road or a private one (hence the EPA). Same reason why forklift trucks, cranes etcetera have to meet pollution restrictions. I'm not sure what NHTSA rules are, because they DO allow new kei-pickups on private property (such as large industrial areas) and I'm sure they don't meet crash-test regulations. But if anyone's an expert on sneaking crapcans through the regulations, I'm sure it's Dr. Harrell…

                  1. mdharrell Avatar

                    My understanding is that the kei-trucks are allowed precisely because they aren't considered automobiles for Federal purposes. It's akin to importing a four-wheeler ATV.
                    Yes, I know ATVs are street-legal in some jurisdictions. That just brings up the whole State vs. Federal question again. All that matters for getting something into the country is the Federal standard, however. What happens after it's here is up to the individual state.

  5. Speedycop Avatar

    No pic of the most famous LeMons car of all time? I'm shocked! The Upside Down Camaro is STILL making the rounds of world news, even now,, almost 6 months later…
    <img src="http://blog.caranddriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/LeMons-NJMP-results-102-626×382.jpg"&gt;

    1. Eric Rood Avatar

      I knew you'd be on it, Speedy. 🙂

  6. Speedycop Avatar

    BTW, thanks for the kind words and the links, Eric. 😉

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