The 24 Hours of LeMons will make two trips to New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville this year; this weekend marks the first visit for the “Real Hoopties of New Jersey.” LeMons will run the longer Thunderbolt layout, a challenging 2.25-mile circuit onto which LeMons will cram as many as 160 entries. That sounds like a lot, but attrition has historically been very high at NJMP, meaning that at any given time (including the green flag) a quarter of that is probably broken and atop jack stands. And what better way could racers spend Mother’s Day weekend? Very early-week weather forecasts indicate that rain could possibly factor in, but keep your eyes peeled on the updated forecasts throughout the week for the full scoop. You can scope the full entry list here and get the full scoop after the jump, but it’s worth noting that 15 teams will bring multiple entries and the car types break down with 33 BMWs, 9 Ford Fox Bodies, 8 Volvos, 6 Volkswagen Golfs/Rabbits/Jettas, 6 GM F Bodies, 5 Subaru, 5 Toyota MR2s, 5 Audis, and—most importantly—3 Chrysler K-Car derivatives.
Usually, this breakdown would indicate that the favorites should be past winners and they probably are, but as usual in the country’s Northeast corner, Volvos will show up in force. A Volvo-powered Volvo still has yet to win a race outright despite the 240 coming out on top of the LeMons Torture Test standings last winter. The Keystone Kops’ pair of 240s are fresh off a disappointing result at last weekend’s “Southern Discomfort” race at Carolina Motorsports Park, but they’ve done pretty well at New Jersey in the past. Vermont Bert-One’s 262C returns to its home after a trip out West and a stop at Gingerman a few weeks ago, where they notched an impressive second-place finish. Add in the Lego-brick wagons from Swedish Mafia Racing (above) and FastISH and FURRiest—both of which have multiple Top 10 finishes—and Sweden could make a solid run in New Jersey. Only a couple of Saab-powered cars have won LeMons and one of them will be at New Jersey. No, it’s a 900 or a 9-3; it’s Rust in the Wind’s Nissan 300ZX that takes its power from a turbocharged Saab four cylinder. The NisSaab has won twice, though neither was at NJMP. Still, expect their hooptie’s complex powertrain to put it out front for at least part of the race. BAR(F) Honda—formerly Bill Danger and the Road Hazzards—have taken two wins as well in their unassuming Honda Accord. They run smooth races that epitomize good planning and execution without being the fastest car in any given field. Cardorks are the only team in the field with a win at NJMP, taking that honor with their BMW E30 in 2011. They will bring two cars this weekend, a race-proven E30 and an E36. If you want to go even farther back for a winner, Booby Prize Racing won the notorious Nelson Ledges race in 2009 with a Nissan 200SX, but they’ve found less success recently since switching to a rear-drive Nissan 240SX. The Alfa Romeo Syndicate Eccelente has cropped this year on both coasts as a collection of Italian stallions. The cadre of Alfas includes the East Coast near-missers Pro Crash Duh Nation, a Milano that regularly leads races but has never done better than a few runner-up finishes. Look for long fuel runs from the Alfa if they’re going to hang with the other frontrunners. Near-Orbital Space Monkeys similarly have finished P2 on three separate occasions in the considerably-more-fickle Ford Mustang (above). They’ve had some bad luck lately with contact and with fuel delivery issues, the latter of which is an endemic Fox Body issue. Northeast regulars Massholes (Ford Escort ZX2) and FRS’s Ugly Uncle (Toyota Solara) have both grown into serious competitors over the last year with five Top 10 finishes between them. The second-place finish for Massholes at last year’s Halloween Hooptiefest was the best-ever Ford Escort finish and they stand a good shot at being the first winners in Ford’s ubiquitous econobox. Team Death Race are one of my favorite teams with their Death Race 2000-themed BMW E28 (above). Every time I write a preview for a race, I suggest they have a chance and they always seem to do well until some bizarre event transpires to set them back. Rather than say anything, I’ll quietly suggest that they are a racecar team and leave it at that. Scuderia Regurgito ran last year with a “new” BMW E36, having finally retired their tired old Fiat 128, a car that somehow managed a Top 10 finish. They cracked the Top 10 with the E36 last year and could become the first LeMons team to win outright with an E36. Several teams made strong debuts last year in the region and it remains to be seen if it was beginners’ luck or if they could play spoilers. RealDime Racing (Acura Integra) finished a stunning P4 in their debut at NJMP last summer, one of the best finishes of the last three seasons for a first-time team. Team Hobo Aero (VW GOlf) nabbed a 17th-place result at the same race in their debut while Dracula’s Disciples (BMW E30) finished 14th in their first outing at New Hampshire last October. Sorry for Party (Pontiac Firebird) one-upped RealDime in their debut last spring with a third-place result, but the only door they’ve knocked on since has actually been a window. [Pause for laughs] Can they recover? Maybe. Will they have a good time? Yes. Of course, these new teams aren’t the only ones looking to play spoiler; several veteran teams could toss their hat in the ring. Schumacher Taxi Service have traversed the country’s eastern half and raced with LeMons since 2008. Their new-to-LeMons Mustang probably won’t win, but it might make a good run into the Top 10. Overengineer’d Racing’s four-cylinder E30 typically turns in a steady result in the bottom of the Top 10 while Knights of the Roundel’s E30 have quietly become a quality team. Mod Squad Racing’s pair of second-generation Toyota MR2s (above) are fun and fast. They usually hang around the top of the field for a few hours until they remember that they’re MR2s and grenade spectacularly. Also of note, the motley assortment of Eastern Pennsylvanians known as Rally Baby Racing and Valsalva Racing will have at least six entries at this race, possibly two more if I’ve read the entry list right (unlikely). The only car of the team that’s been competitive—the former Duct Tape Motorsports E30—doesn’t appear to be one of their entries. Regardless, they’re planning on throwing an immense bash after the racing is over Saturday night, which is what really matters to the reigning LeMons National Champions. Our handpicked longshot for this race is truly a longshot, or rather a pair of them. SillyNannies have two entries in this field, a Mazda Miata (above) and an Audi S6. One of them has done well and one hasn’t, but it’s not the way you think. The Miata has dwelled at the bottom of the standings while the team’s Audi narrowly missed the Top 10 at New Hampshire last fall. I’m going way out on a limb to suggest that either has a shot of winning, but I think they’ll at least pull an impressive race from one of the cars. More longshots: Scooby Doobies (Audi Coupe Quattro), Low-T Sewing Circle & Book Club (BMW E28), Free-Man Racing (Acura Integra), Mid Life Crisis Racing Team 512 (2 Chevy Camaros), Escape from NJ (BMW E36).
As always, classing decisions are made the track with little-to-no premeditation from the Supreme Court justices, so these predictions are based merely on how cars have been classed in the past. As such, you can expect Hooniverse’s own Kamil Kaluski to be in a Class B ride, the 2002 Buick Regal of Park Bench Racing (above). Check back this week and next for more on his adventures leading up to and during the race weekend. Because I’m on a time crunch and this rocks glass’ dripping sweat just fried my laptop keyboard (and I’m now typing this my backup, a rickety old VIC-20), I’ll just rip the rest of Class B directly from my notes. Saturns: Elmo’s Revenge could be Class A, has won B before; slow and steady sates the Saturn. Orbits Near Uranus is about the 50th Saturn team to make a Uranus joke. Audis: Rally Baby Ur Quattro almost had it in the bag at Summit before the team tripped over the remnants of the previous night’s party or something. Brooklyn Bomb Squad run a chop-top 200 Quattro and are from Brooklyn. Volvos: SlowSwedes have a 240 with an 8-valve motor, a tote bag, and a Garrison Keillor book on tape wedged in the cassette deck. Clownfish and Fully Torqued Racing run solid 850s. Class C winners graduate to Class B: 3 Pedal Mafia’s Buick 3800-powered Triumph TR7 is almost their least-interesting car ever (though they’ll have a new Civic, probably a Class B car, too). Rusty Tear Racing run a Pontiac Fiero and haven’t caught fire yet. Team Farfrumwinnin (VW Fox) may not have ever won Class C. Or maybe they did. No, they didn’t. Is a VW Fox materially different from an Audi Fox? Dumb as a Brick made a startlingly good choice with a normally aspirated, four-cylinder Mustang. The massive sprint-car wing is the dumb part. Torque Junkies: Formerly Focke Ewe Volkswagen Golf, now with a TDI motor. No idea where this will get classed, but it looks nice here, doesn’t it? Old stuff: Jynweythek Racing (BMW 2002) is a name that most of Chicago can pronounce with ease. UranusOrBust is the first ever non-Saturn team to make a Uranus joke. It’s a Datsun; I feel I’m missing the joke. European Dent Crisis will run both a BMW 2002 and a BMW E21 because they are masochists, I’d guess. The Boss (Toyota Celica), Lemontarians (Dodge Neon), Team Carbeque (non-turbo Saab 900), and Half Fast (Honda CRX) are car-ish cars, which is about as Class B as you can possibly get. Scuderia Craptastica tried to put a Mazda rotary engine in an Opel GT using a motorcycle carb and assorted other wretched ideas with predictable results. They’ve scrapped that and have a Ford Taurus now.
You get the Cliff Notes here. I really hate to cut it short (because I’m verbose), but there should be a ton of Class C ars at NJMP and Artillery Duel isn’t going to play itself. 3 Pedal Mafia: The Sea-Sprite-on-S10-chassis known as “The Boat” is the source of power for the Internet Crapcan Grandmasters Nonpareil and it’s usually somehow close to the lead in Class C but hasn’t won yet. 3PM will pair it with LeMons’ first Ford Cortina, whose complementary flavors include an oily note that is characteristic of the Kent engine. Four cars total with B entries; team usually has a theme that spans all cars and is awesome (above). Speedycop: Five entries. One is a boring Toyota MR2 and one is the 16-cylinder Lincoln. The other three were probably found under a tarp in his back yard. No, really. La Fiesta: A 1980 Ford Fiesta. Dirty Penny Racing: A Datsun B210 (above) that is allegedly fast but still terrible. Chev-Itte Where the Sun Don’t Shine: Dominated Class C at one time, so they ghettocharged the engine. It’s fast but suddenly unreliable. Who knew that forced induction on a Chevette motor makes it unreliable? Full Nelson: A three-cylinder Saab 96 that would be a Hooniverse favorite except the owners chucked the Saab two-stroke and put in a 1.0-liter three cylinder from a Geo Metro. It could sputter and putter to a class win if everyone else in class breaks, a real possibility. Froogle: A Subaru Legacy that may get bumped to B. Glue Sticks: A Mazda 626 (above) so godawful that it was tossed into Class C at its only race, where it should have dominated. It finished 108th. Sinical Racing: Have been around since Nelson Ledges in 2009 trying to win overall and failing miserably at that. Alternative: Bring hopeless Class C entries like a Saab Sonett and a Volkswagen Beetle. Bondo James Bondo: The millionth James Bond theme car. Just about every Triumph has sported 007 references at some point. Super Grover: A real-life Rover 3500! A REAL LIFE ROVER 3500! Grocery Getter: The East Coast’s first Jeep Cherokee. Some Porsche factory prankster is probably egging these guys on. B Keepers: MGB-GT that just ran at CMP and shook itself mostly apart there. It can’t be that hard to fix one or two of everything on a car in three or four days, can it? Team Sputnik: Also just ran CMP with the same two cars. One is a base-model Nissan Sentra that is awful and the other is a Nissan
KA24 GA16-powered Porsche 924 that scavenged some clutch linkage from a Hillman Avenger. Team owner/”mastermind” is Russian and one of last year’s biggest K-Car enablers. Speaking of which… K-Car Derivatives: Three teams think K-Car descendents are a good idea. Perhaps it’s fitting that New Jersey is the place that will see if the spiteful K-It-FWD Plymouth Reliant will mete out its Legacy of Brutality. Will Futility Motorsport (Dodge Daytona), Codename Vivaldi Motorsport (Dodge Daytona), or Team Pro-Crastinate (Dodge Shadow) avoid being the three worst cars in the field? These are the big questions that LeMons answers for the broader automotive world. Follow Eric Rood on Twitter and on Facebook for updates. Follow Kamil Kaluski on Twitter for updates from his race weekend, too. [Photos: Murilee Martin except where noted]