24 Hours of Lemons: Buick nabs a class win at NHMS


We did it! We won our class at the 24 Hours of Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway! Yea, that’s right, we won. We got the trophy and the big cash payout that almost covered gas, hotels, and tolls. Yeah!
Thanks, we appreciate your congratulatory chuckle and nod as you’re reading this.
A win is a win but there is one problem – this was not really the way we wanted to win. But we will keep our cash and trophy, thank you very much. Allow me to explain.


This was a rather different race from the start. First, it seemed somewhat lacking in typical Lemons enthusiasm and craziness. Secondly, probably related to the first, was the fact that we were placed in class C and given some penalty laps. While we were more than fine with that, we couldn’t help but think why we were placed in class C despite the fact that for the last four years we were always placed in class B.  
It turned out that there was a serious lack of class C cars. You know, class C, the cool, the wacky, the crazy, and the unbelievable hoopties that only the biggest of idiots would attempt to race. In order to make up for that several class B cars were placed into class C and given penalty laps. That was actually a brilliant call on the part of the judges, and not only because we won.

Speedcreep is what some call it. Basically, with each race and with each season, cars get faster and faster. It’s not a blatant thing but it’s there. The last time we raced here, two years ago, we ran very clean and finished third in class and fifteenth overall. Not bad at all, right?
This year we also ran a relatively clean race, with a few issues on day two. Issues consisted of the transmission not shifting in fourth and having a shit set of back-up brake pads. The Hawk Blue 9012 front brake pads we were using until now were discontinued. We bought Power Stop Track Day pads as replacement and they lasted less than a day, and had what can be described as a low initial bite. Crap pads, avoid.
The real reason why we won was attrition. Many of the C class cars that did show up were real shit. The better C cars ran on and off, and many of them hauled ass when they did run. Others ran great until a catastrophic failure. But we did have a few close competitors.
Until the midpoint of day two we were separated by half a lap from our nearest competitor and they were gaining. Unfortunately they were involved in a strut-tower bending accident. Miraculously, they fixed it! Unfortunately halfway through their return lap, they lost the rear wheel. It actually fell off!
This is why we won. All of class C crapped out or wrecked out at some point. Despite racing basically without brakes and fourth gear for half a day, we managed to win our class because no one was running, or at least running well.
Here is why the judges made a good call. Despite winning our class, we finished 29th overall. Had we been put into class B this year, we would have finished 12th in that class, an amazing 44 laps behind the class B winner, and 60 laps behind the overall winner. Two years ago we finished third in class B and fifteenth overall. This is what speedcreep is.

I don’t know what can be done about it. One thing that Lemons does not require is an amount of pit-stops per day. I know there are guys doing three-hour stints. The requirement is four drivers per team but given a big enough fuel cell, a team could do two drivers and one pit stop each day.
I’m looking at some numbers, at what we’d need to do to once again be competitive in B. The easiest thing to do would be to get a fuel-cell and go from three to two pit-stops per day. That would take our stints from 1:45-ish to 2:30-ish. I don’t think that’s something I’d want to do. At that point it stops being fun and possibly becomes dangerous, or at the very least unhealthy. That’s just my opinion.

We are looking at adding more go and stop power. We’re looking at adding lightness. We’re looking at different rubber. And we’re looking at driver improvements. But despite all of this, it will be difficult, but not impossible, to gain 40 laps in a race where we completed 463. Our fastest lap was 1:29:38. The team that finished 14th overall had a similar best lap, competed 492 laps.
Perhaps it’s time for a different car. Perhaps it’s time for a different racing series. Perhaps it’s time to get really serious. Or, perhaps, it’s just time to accept that we’re doing it just for fun. But because we’re idiots, the last one is unlikely. Class B, now and forever.

27 Comments

  1. new idea for 24hrs of le mons-one end of staten island to the other and back but only during monday and tuesday rush hours. should do 24hrs nicely. mandatory five mph bumpers.

  2. “You know, class C… that only the biggest of idiots would attempt to race.”
    That can’t be right. Everything I’ve raced has been in Class C.

    1. I’ve only ever raced in Class C, as well. The last couple of times through BS, Eric has asked if we’ve ever won class C. Then we have a chuckle and he places us in class C. The car has the potential for a class C win. We’ve never been close. When the Jag does finally win C and get bumped to B, I’ll be building a class B car out of my Saturn Astra. The Jag has been getting better, but not at a rate to ever be competitive in class B. It burns 15 gallons per hour on track, so even with the largest fuel cell allowed, stints would be limited to a bit over an hour. The fuel tank is already 20 gallons.

    2. I’ve only ever raced class C, but I’m hardly a counter example for the ‘biggest of idiots’ claim…

  3. To gain 40 laps on 463 wouldn’t sound too hard for any management I had the joy to encounter yet. Less than 10%, come on, your shareholders would be disappointed if you didn’t make that!
    What do you mean, “this is supposed to be fun”?

    1. I’m guessing 492 lap guys have a smaller spread of laptimes?
      Otherwise sounds like the traditional speed costs money issue.

      1. Oh you should’ve seen this sticker when it was freshly minted: lime metallic sparkle green that neatly matched my green Honda Insight.
        Aging sucks.

          1. Lovely! The 1980 KV Mini I was a crowd favorite at the 2009 inaugural Concours d’Lemons and featured heavily in my photos of that very event. (appended at the link below)
            At any rate, I’m praying to the god of Pacers and Shaggin’ Wagons that you do stumble across an additional sticker!
            https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.120684933306.100686.827078306&type=1&l=4bc1dd60da
            Seen below: it’s high tech drivetrain!
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9ac7e93fc5ffb5f8508190cddb63c5e922d3fc352b05a6ceb999e9bb0bab3cd8.jpg

          2. Saying nice things about my car will get you nearly everywhere including, in this case, well on your way towards ownership of a new old stock Cd’L sticker*. My email address is ridiculously easy to find via the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences, so send me a note with your shipping address and it’s yours:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4f4e1e0fccf43853bda0a79b53504b39f5f75548ae76f36144ab385400a056a1.jpg
            *This is the only one I could find, so the offer expires after this one.

          3. Has anyone won the Concours with an AMC Pacer?
            For that matter, any concours, anywhere, ever, with one ?

          4. A ’76 Pacer took Worst of Show at this year’s Michigan Cd’L and a ’75 received the Chronic Dick-Teague Syndrome award at last year’s Monterey Cd’L.

          5. Good grief I haven’t felt so much anticipation over a sticker! Alongside your email address is a photo of you leaning against the pontoon fender of some obscure transportation, quite apropos. That Roger Buick guy however … should be leaning on a Buick (but isn’t) and might need to have his green complexion examined by a Doc unless he’s a zombie.
            At any rate: thanks in advance!

          6. That’s my former ’37 Plymouth:
            http://www.washington.edu/news/2009/10/15/an-accumulation-of-old-cars-starring-a-1937-plymouth-sedan/
            I’m reasonably confident that Roger Buick is not a zombie, just Australian. He’s fairly closely related to David Dunbar Buick via the branch of the family that moved there from Scotland instead of to the US. I’ve suggested he should get a vintage Buick but so far to no avail.
            You’re welcome, in advance.

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