24 Hours of LeMons: 'Doing Time in Joliet' preview

Lede [Disclaimer: Eric Rood will be getting paid to sit on the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court for this race, punishing drivers for their misdeeds and generally doing his best to maintain order on the racetrack.] The 24 Hours of LeMons has been in its “experimental college student” phase this year, it seems, testing out the waters of sprint racing and visiting new circuits. This weekend, the crapcan series rolls into prestigious Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois, but the race format brings a twist: Rather than run a 24-hour race or a two-session race, LeMons will run a non-stop 14-hour race—”Doing Time in Joliet“—Saturday with the checkered flag at midnight. Additionally, Autobahn’s setup includes a North, South, and Full Course layout. The last four races at Autobahn have run the South Course. This race will run the same, except at the race’s halfway point (5 p.m. local), track workers will reconfigure the circuit to add on the 3.56-mile Full Course. LeMons at Autobahn has experienced pretty much a 50/50 split in terms of having foul weather and early-week forecasts call for a 30 percent chance of rain over the weekend. Most importantly for our readers, this LeMons correspondent will spend Friday and Saturday in BS Inspection and the Penalty Box, respectively, as a member of the LeMons Supreme Court. With the (Dis)Honorable Murilee Martin manning the gavel  at his 100th race (!) and judicial newcomer/radial-engine-Toyota-MR2 (above) builder Marc Labranche co-judging, this should allow me to post live updates to Hooniverse again as the race unfolds. Intriguing setup for a great LeMons race? Almost certainly. Read on after the jump for the details. LemonAid_Metro_I6


As always, classing is done at the track once the LeMons Supreme Court sees the entries in person. To keep the class races fair and subjective (since your humble correspondent is one of the Supreme Court and will be helping class the cars), I will refrain here from commenting on classing ahead of time. That said, feel free to peruse the 101 unofficial entries. In lieu of class previews, I’ll take a look at potential overall winners, but before that, let’s briefly discuss some of the great cars that probably won’t win but will instead embody LeMons in the most entertaining ways possible. #53 LemonAid Racing (Geo Metro) – This entry has been about 18 months in the making. It started its LeMons life as a three-time Class C winner (all at Autobahn, interestingly) with a stock 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine. Under the bonnet, the team have swapped in a BMW M52 inline six (test fit shown above), at least tripling the horsepower and probably quintupling the reliability issues. It runs and drives, but the team expect much more wrenching Friday and Saturday to get it onto the track. As they say in LeMons, “What could possibly go wrong?” #403 Anonymous B (Subaru XT) – Somehow, nobody has yet brought Subaru’s super-weird 1980s attempt at a sportscar. And somehow, it will be a Midwestern team that has found one not yet reclaimed by the Rust Fairy. Anonymous, who have run a reasonably quick Honda Civic sedan, will try their hand with the XT this weekend. #81 Sussbag Crew (Mercedes C230) – This might be the most exciting of all the cars in the field, mostly because this seemed like a one-and-done team (of which there are many in crapcan racing) at their Road America debut. But fret not, this Merc, powered by a Ford Lima plucked directly out of a Pinto, will race again. #73 Sir Jackie Stewart’s Coin Purse Racing (Ford EXP) – The SJSCPR squad are the only team crazy enough to find and prepare Ford’s Escort-derived two-seater for LeMons. Their auspicious debut at Road America was unfortunately overshadowed by the uplifting triumph of the malignant beast known simply as “The K Car” to most of LeMonsdom. They’ll try again for Index of Effluency glory in Joliet. Porsche924_43V6 #668 2 Wycked (Porsche 924) – This squad, also known as F.A.C.E. Racing in the past, have a Porsche 924. They’ve tossed out its unreliable heap of a four-cylinder powerplant for a GM 4.3-liter V6, also known as An Unreliable Heap (above). The car never seems to run right, the team never seems in a hurry, and everything about this situation is as it should be. #844 Pabst Blue Racing (Nissan Maxima) – What do you do when your Maxima blows up a motor after its first race? Whey, you pitch the Nissan V6, cut up the interior of the car, and drop a 300-horsepower Cadillac Northstar V8 between the rear axles. Sure, the Northstar is entirely unhappy, but good lord does it sound great. #8 Charnal House (Geo Metro) – Charnal House won Class B at the Gingerman race on Easter weekend through luck and some seat-of-the-pants emergency management. Still, the Ford Taurus SHO V6 behind the rear axle can really make the NoPro-themed car go. Their Metro is better sorted than the LemonAid, but it will be interesting to see how lap times compare after a few races head to head. #20 Golden Lake Racing (Ford Mustang) – Yet another team who debuted at Road America. This squad’s 1973 Mustang probably draws the ire of the “HOW IS THAT $500 CAR!!!111!???/” crowd, but if you saw it close up,  you’d know it was a basketcase and the team’s claims of yanking it out of someone’s backyard seem entirely reasonable. #54 Grocery Getter Racing (Jeep Cherokee) – Most hold high hopes for the Jeep in LeMons, particularly after trailblazers Team Petty Cash and TGTW Offroad Racing have had success with theirs. Grocery Getter showed up with an unfinished XJ Cherokee at the New Jersey Motorsports Park debut and only turned 23 laps, but maybe they’ll have it together come Saturday. Jaguar_XJS #200 Double Jeopardy (Jaguar XJ-S) – Speaking of XJ, Double Jeopardy—who once ran a 4-2-1 Pontiac Fiero—decided to halve the reliability by tripling the cylinder count. Their XJ-S sat in a team member’s yard for a few years before they brought it to Autobahn last summer; they didn’t even bother cleaning all the leaves and stuff out from under the hood. The drivetrain ran like clockwork, but the two-ton behemoth melted the stock brake setup after about five laps (above). #220 Pocket Deuces (Ford Fiesta) – Comprised of active duty military personnel—Air Force, I believe—the Pocket Deuces squad were absolutely new to racing last summer at their Autobahn debut. They made good at the 24-hour race in Houston and should be vastly improved in this, their third race. #919 Afunzalo Racing (Fiat X1/9) – This group of Italian car enthusiasts hail from a town I know well: Sandwich, IL, who have the most entertaining police cars in the world. Anyway, Afunzalo debuted at Gingerman and struggled with, well, everything. It is a Fiat, after all. #928 Scuderia Craptastic (Ford Taurus) – Some may remember this team for their brilliant idea to drop a Mazda 12A Wankel engine into an Opel GT, which worked very poorly. Some may also remember them for, in their second race, supercharging that 12A. This fared very, very poorly. Few will fault them for ditching those awful, awful ideas to run a Ford Taurus. Boost4 #29 Boost4 Racing (Volkswagen Golf) – These guys couldn’t catch a break last year. Their first attempt at LeMons build was ruined by an absurd flood to their shop area. They replaced that with a Lexus ES300 (above), which received three penalty laps but subsequently lunched its engine after a single lap, leaving them with -2 laps on the timing sheet. It was all a bit discouraging and looked like another one-and-done team, but they’re back for more with a 1998 VW Golf. Those are reliable, right? #32 and #132 Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws (Honda Accord-ion and Toyota MR2) – It’s not a LeMons race if it’s east of the Mississippi River and Speedycop isn’t there. To date, Jeff Bloch (aka Speedycop) and crew have collected one of every single trophy in LeMons except a Class B win. Will he get it?Maybe. Will he plead and plead to get his ’91 MR2 into Class B? Probably. #92 Unified Partnership of Pentastar Racers (Plymouth Sundance Duster) – What happens when you run a Chrysler P Platform car (Read: K-Car’s younger cousin) at the same race as “The K Car?” The Reliant’s rotten luck rubs off on your extremely capable Duster. The Pentastar Duster is fast but goes through Mitsubishi V6s like…um…a K car goes through everything. #83 Canadian Border Patrol (Toyota Cressida) – Crapped-out Lexus 1UZ-FE V8s fairly grow on trees in junkyards because no one wants them. I have no idea why because the 1UZ in this car sound amazing at full song and puts out at least 250 horsepower. 1244_1 #420, #421, #422 The Wonderment Consortium (VW Quantum Syncro, Ford Escort, Honda Civic shown above) – These three cars were themed together at the Easter race to win Organizer’s Choice and will, by all accounts, be themed together again. Only the Escortthis writer’s former LeMons car—hasn’t been completely terrible.  #31 Hard 8 Racing (Ford Contour) – This team at one time had some kind of incredibly Malaise-Era-approved G-Body Monte Carlo. There was some kind of digital display on a little steering wheel panel that had long ago stopped working, but it was probably pretty snazzy when it was new. For about three weeks. Anyway, they sold that chunk of crap and will run a less-exciting Ford Contour. #25 Butt Sweat and Beers (Volkswagen Rabbit) – This, LeMoneers, is how you name a race team. #777 Muenster Energy (Honda Prelude) – And this team name ain’t bad, either.   Here are some teams that will probably get mentioned, for better or for worse, in this weekend’s live coverage. In no particular order: #4 Racing 4 Nickels (Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera), #40 Dover Bros Racing (MGB-GT), #222 Windy City Racing (BMW 2002), #311 Schnitzelwagen (Volkswagen Squareback), #888 Zero Budget Racing (Chevy Chevette), #196 Alfa Romeo Syndicate Eccelente/Alyssa Milano (Alfa Milano), #45 Arrested Adolescent Racing Program (Opel GT Breadwagon), #185 Apocalyptic Racing (Toyota Celica), #38 Team Sucker Punch (Chevy Camaro), #101 Byte Marks Racing (Ford Escort), #18 Point-O-Eight (Ford Escort), #757 Pink Ladies (Mazda Miata).    


Ta_Tas Camaro   I’ve already run long, mostly because I know these Midwestern teams and cars better than most regions. So I’ll explain each of the cars with a chance at winning in 10 words or fewer. #36 Save the Ta-Tas (Chevy Camaro, above) – Very fast former winners with typical F-Body problems. #711 Subliminal Racing (BMW E30) – Regional champions and Autobahn winners. Absent from LeMons for awhile. #880 Back to the Past (Nissan 300ZX) – Tow everywhere to race. Clean and consistent always. #619 Launcha Splatos (Fiat X1/9) – Holy moly! An Alfa V6 and a Lancia Stratos livery. #35 Mark’s Harder LemonAid (BMW E30) – Consistent and plan races well. Need more speed to compete. 1130_1 #285 and #87 Dai Mondai II and I (Toyota MR2 and Corolla FX16) – The only MR2 with a LeMons win. Crappy luck lately (above). #112 The Blue Shells (Dodge Neon) – One of the best with no wins. Strong at Autobahn. #44 Landshark (Acura Integra) – Can’t come closer to winning. If driving clean, good chances. #86 Little Lebowski Urban Achievers (Volvo 245) – Rotten luck at Gingerman. The best car in the rain. #11 Team Reynolds Style (Toyota Celica) – Suspiciously quick in a crappy front-drive Celica. #750 Flying Pigs racing (Ford Mustang) – A brake failure short of beating Speedycop this spring. Ducktape_Porsche #47 United Ducktape Racing (Porsche 944, above) – Porsche luck has been good lately. Team’s familiar with Autobahn. #181 Team Sheen (Acura Integra) – Can never catch a break. #555 Sideways to Victory IV (Ford Focus) – A good longshot. Usually in the Top 10. #488 Blueberry Fields Forever (Subaru Impreza) – SVX engine swap. Way more reliable than you’d guess. Shitbox_Racing_E30 #600 S***box Racing (BMW E30, above) – Aggressive but fast. Screwed if it rains. #301 Panzer Racing (BMW E30) – Steadily improving with some good hotshoes. #368 PBR Light (BMW E30) – Same team as Northstar-powered Maxima. Good darkhorse. #1 One Percent Racing (BMW E28) – Hot motor (535i), niggling mechanical issues. If sorted, very good chances. Supra_Troopers #911 Supra Troopers (Toyota Supra) – Super-fast black flag magnets. Cannibalize street car every time (above). #43 Priority Fail (Volkswagen GTI) – Like Supra Troopers but with a tad more sense. #797 White Trash Racing (Dodge Neon) – Pride themselves in lack of sense. Usually having hella fun. Gutty_CRX_Longshot Credibles_Longshot I’ll spend a few extra minutes on the race’s longshot: the two CRXs from Team Gutty (top) and Team Slightly-Less-Than-Credible (bottom). I’m not sure if they’re directly related, but they always seem to run together. Team Gutty have possibly been building low-buck racers for as long as anyone, having competed in many Grassroots Motorsports Magazine $2000 Challenges. Their Hondas are usually reliable and quick enough for a Top 10 run. Both teams will need some luck (or rain) to win outright, but anything can happen in LeMons.  

Event page Doing Time in Joliet page
About the track Autobahn Trackpedia page
Saturday South Course Session (CST) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday Full Course Session (CST) 5:15 p.m. to Midnight
LeMons Lap Record (South Course) 1:43.9 – Holy Rollers (Acura Integra)
LeMons Lap Record (North Course) 1:18.0 – Save the Ta-Tas (Chevy Camaro)
Expected fastest Full Course Lap Probably a bit under 3:00; Spec Miata record is 2:54
Overall Winners 2010 – Skid Marks Racing (Dodge Neon)
2011 – Clueless Racing (Honda CRX)
2012  – Subliminal Racing (BMW E30)
2012 – Skid Marks Racing (Dodge Neon)
2013 – Save the Ta-Tas Racing (Chevy Camaro)
Class B Winners 2010 – Chicken and Waffles (VW Quantum Syncro)
2011 – Euro Trash (VW Jetta)
2012 – Byte Marks Racing (Ford Escort)
2012 – Dos Limons (Ford Fiesta)
2013 – Bad Mojo Racing (Opel GT)
Class C Winners 2010 – LemonAid Racing (Geo Metro)
2011 – LemonAid Racing (Geo Metro)
2012 – LemonAid Racing (Geo Metro)
2012 – Candy Asses (Chevy Cavalier)
2013 – Zero Budget Racing (Chevy Chevette Diesel)
Index of Effluency Winners 2010 – Speedycop/Police Brutality (Lancia Scorpio)
2011 – Racing 4 Nickels (Olds Cutlass Ciera)
2012 – Schnitzelwagen (Volkswagen Squareback)
2012 – Dos Limons (Ford Fiesta)
2013 – Futility Motorsports (Mercury Bobcat)

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