As you may have surmised from Hooniverse’s weekend coverage, this humble 24 Hours of LeMons correspondent spent Easter weekend with 50 crapcan racing teams at Gingerman Raceway for LeMons’ “Cure for Gingervitis.” Unlike previous April races at Gingerman, this one featured delightful weather with clear blue skies, a shining sun, and even T-shirt weather. Attrition factored heavily into the race outcome, but when the brake dust and sand from the Turn 11 beach settled, two veteran teams walked away with much-anticipated wins and several more left with other hardware.
No LeMons racer is more famous than Jeff Bloch, better known as Speedycop. Through six years of LeMons races, Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws have collected almost every trophy that LeMons gives out, save two: the Overall win and a Class B win. Speedycop built a B20-powered Honda Civic hatchback (above) to try for the overall win and with the relatively low turnout expected, Gingerman offered the best chance for that. While his penchant for strange automotive projects precedes him, Bloch is also a very competent racecar driver and he arrived in South Haven with a plan.
The Civic’s massive fuel cell allowed Speedycop and co-driver John Heflin (of Ziegel Scheißhaus Racing fame) to run stints of around three hours on Saturday, making only two fuel stops while the other top teams needed three. That one fewer stop put Speedycop into the race lead at the end of Saturday.
Sunday found Bloch in the car, starting P1 with a lap lead over Swiss Racing’s E30, whose opening driver took that lap back at the green flag and then proceeded to run down the Civic to take the lead in the race’s first hour. However, a failed clutch would trailer Swiss Racing halfway through the day to give the lead back to Speedycop. Bloch drove all five hours of Sunday’s race, stretching his lead out to eight laps. After more than 40 race weekends and 80 race entries, the 5 p.m. checkered flag waved over the Civic’s roof and Speedycop at last captured his long-sought-after overall victory. This came almost exactly two years after he drove all 13-1/2 hours of the 2012 Gingerman race in a Suzuki X-90 to win Class C.
Swiss Racing’s (above) speed would have been an issue for Speedycop had they stayed together, as they clocked the race’s fastest lap, a 1:41.146, while running down Speedycop in Sunday’s first hour. Their clutch issues dropped them out, however, but they’ll be back. Flying Pigs Racing was also in the mix for the overall win, leading with about 30 minutes left on Saturday when a cracked rotor led to brake failure at the fasted part of the track. The team managed to swap on new rotors and pads for Sunday’s green flag and held on to finish P6 overall. Mark’s Harder LemonAid Racing took P2 after Swiss Racing’s clutch failure, but the team used up all of their brakes for the weekend with two hours remaining and packed it in for the weekend.
Vermont Bert-One (above), headed home to Vermont from a stay on the West Coast, stopped in at Gingerman and ran a tremendous race, finishing P2 overall with a (mostly) clean race and no time-consuming mechanical failures, although they contended with turbocharging issues late on Saturday. Sunday found Bert-One battling the United Ducktape Racing Porsche 944, which worked the gap down from a couple minutes to about 10 seconds with 15 minutes remaining until the Porsche started sputtering. The quick stop for a splash of fuel ended the battle for P2 but gave the Ducktape car its third P3 finish. Just behind that, fourth place was decided by a nose with the CMR Ford Taurus SHO just edging past Team Sheen’s Acura Integra at the start/finish line. The gap between the two positions: 0.013 seconds!
The Car and Driver entry, Hell Kitty, finished a surprising P7 in their Honda Prelude and for once didn’t pack up and leave at the slightest hint of brake noise. Wisconsin Crap Racing have been around LeMons for a long time, first blowing up a Nissan Maxima and a Nissan Sentra SE-R before campaigning a BMW E36. Theirs was the top Bimmer, finishing P9 for the weekend, their best-ever finish.
In Class B, another team assembled a long-awaited victory. Charnal House debuted their Geo Metro (above)—powered by the 220-horsepower Yamaha V6 from a Ford Taurus SHO—in 2010 and struggled for two years trying to make it handle. They figured it out in 2013 and came close to winning B, foiled only by recurring hub and wheel stud issues. Despite absolutely nuking a rear hub with 15 minutes remaining Saturday, they held on to win over the Wonderment Consortium Ford Escort, a car that this writer once owned. Charnal House crossed the finish line with a flat tire but also with 16-lap lead.
Late Saturday, Class B looked headed for a four-car slugfest. Canadian Border Patrol’s Toyota Cressida had pulled out a slight lead, but a power steering failure ended their day and gave the lead to Apocalyptic Racing, whose Toyota Celica (above) immediately suffered a catastrophic failure of its welded-on panhard bar that took most of the rear suspension with it.
With Charnal House sidelined a bit later from the broken rear hub, Wonderment Consortium made up enough ground to lead the first lap Sunday. However, the team failed to replace the oil filler cap on the motor before taking the track, spewing oil all over the engine bay and up onto the windshield (above). After pitting to clean the mess, the transmission failed in short order, leaving the team to limp around all day in fourth gear to a P2 finish in the class.
Point-O-Eight’s Ford Escort broke early Saturday with a failed halfshaft, but the team recovered nicely to finish P3 in class. Product Design’s hooptie Saturn SL2 ran a solid race for P4 in class and the Arrested Adolescent Racing Program Opel GT Breadwagon finished fifth in class. Water Closet Racing’s Audi 90 Quattro were a team of rookies (more or less) whose fastest lap was fifth-slowest in the field, but they managed to finish P20 nonetheless.
Early on, it became apparent that Class C would be a two-team battle between the Chevy S-10 from Loose Lugs Racing (above) and the Ford Tempo from Flux Decapacitators. With only three cars in the class and the third—Afunzalo Racing’s rookie Fiat X1/9 crew—fixing bits all weekend, one might be surprised that it was the closest race of the whole weekend.
The two traded the class lead after every stop and only with an hour left when the Tempo (above) made its final stop did the lead shake out to about a minute in favor of the truck. Loose Lugs stretched that lead, eventually lapping the P2 car before the checkered flag, but the two Class C-mobiles finished P10 and P11 overall, respectively. Because finishing P11 in a four-cylinder, automatic Ford Tempo is no small feat, Flux Decapacitators were an obvious choice for the vaunted Index of Effluency trophy.
Ignition problems oddly seemed to be one major issue for the weekend. Little Lebowski Urban Achievers should have been the favorites to win with their Volvo 245 wagon (above), but the car refused to start no matter what the team did to it after it ran smoothly during Friday’s testing. Their trials earned them I Got Screwed (dis)honors.
Junk Dynasty experienced similar issues after with their 5.0-liter Ford Mustang. It scarcely ran during tech inspection and the team didn’t make it run until the race’s final two hours. Their strange approach to accounting and inability to build a car earned them the race-specific trophy, the Should Have Taken a Bailout award.
The three-car Easter pastel theme from Wonderment Consortium (above) took home Organizer’s Choice while the happy-go-lucky utter rookies running the V6 Firebird of Firenerds took home Judges Choice for their eternal optimism and their ability to take their lumps on the learning curve in stride.
Bad Lucky Touch could have been screwed, had they not taken Saturday morning’s green flag. Their RX-7 (above) sat under a tarp Friday night in the near-pitch-black paddock. A cyclist riding through the paddock didn’t see it and rode directly into it, smashing the Mazda’s windshield with his face. In the morning, he sourced some dirt-track mesh and assembled a makeshift windshield; Bad Lucky Touch made it to the green flag and even led a couple of laps before losing a wheel a couple hours in. The damage from that sidelined them several hours, but the team apparently fetched their wheel from a couple hundred yards off the racing surface after the track went cold.
Brake and tire wear caused consternation for many teams with more than one team going through a new set of brake pads on Saturday and a dozen or so teams wearing their left-front tires to the cords (Gingerman is a clockwise circuit). In addition, mechanical woes put an end to contending efforts from Full Tilt Boogie (electronics or fuel), SHOuth of the Border (brakes and exhaust), TeamNonSequitur (wheel bearing and hub), and Burnt Rubber Soul Racing (exhaust).
If you missed it while it was happening, you can read the trackside updates from Saturday and Sunday.
Overall Top Ten (Full Results Here)
1. #32 Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws (Honda Civic) – 450 Laps
2. #262 Vermont Bert-One (Volvo 262C Bertone) – 442 Laps
3. #45 United Ducktape Racing (Porsche 944) – 439 Laps
4. #889 CMR (Ford Taurus SHO) – 435 Laps
5. #181 Team Sheen (Acura Integra) – 435 Laps
6. #750 Flying Pigs Racing (Ford Mustang) – 430 Laps
7. #13 Hell Kitty Racing (Honda Prelude) – 426 Laps
8. #3 Charnal House (Geo MetSHO) – 418 Laps, Class B Winner
9. #113 Wisconsin Crap Racing (BMW E36) – 415 Laps
10. #4 Loose Lugs Racing (Chevy S-10) – 404 Laps, Class C Winner
1. #3 Charnal House (Geo MetSHO) – 418 Laps
2. #8 Wonderment Consortium B (Ford Escort) – 402 Laps
3. #108 Point-O-Eight (Ford Escort ) – 393 Laps
4. #124 Product Design (Saturn SL2) – 386 Laps
5. #41 Arrested Adolescent Racing Program (Opel GT) – 371 Laps
6. #67 Water Closet Racing (Audi 90 Quattro) – 369 Laps
7. #85 Apocalyptic Racing (Toyota Celica) – 368 Laps
8. #83 Canadian Border Patrol (Toyota Cressida) – 360 Laps
9. #2 Sweaty Fannies (Ford Mustang) – 355 Laps
10. #66 Bad Decisions Racing (Saturn SC2) – 322 Laps
1. #4 Loose Lugs Racing (Chevy S-10) – 404 Laps
2. #10 Flux Decapacitators II (Ford Tempo) – 403 Laps
3. #919 Afunzalo Racing (Fiat X1/9) – 144 Laps
All photos copyright Hooniverse 2014/Eric Rood