I guess I’ve been running a week behind on my 24 Hours of LeMons race recaps, so here’s the rundown on the Real Hoopties of New Jersey on New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Circuit. The race featured a number of former winners and an almost equal number of teams with multiple second-place finishes. As has somewhat become the norm for East Coasters, the race featured an abundance of aggressive driving and several lengthy full-course cautions Saturday due to competitors’ collective red mist and the crowded track with 151 cars turning laps throughout the weekend (though likely no more than 135-140 occupied the track at any given time). The racing cleaned up Sunday and the end result was another startlingly close LeMons race. Plenty of very good LeMons teams come close to winning time after time but just can’t quite there. For the past four years, Near-Orbital Space Monkeys have been one of those teams, scoring second-place finishes three times with a third-place result, as well. This past weekend, they put it all together and dug up just enough luck to capture their first win in their Fox Body Ford Mustang (above), only the second time Ford’s ponycar has won outright and the first Mustang victory since 2009. It wasn’t easy; the car ran consistently all day Saturday, buoyed by fuel savings from some timely red flags. The Space Monkeys didn’t have the outright pace for Sunday’s 6-1/2 hours, the team reckoned, so they gambled on stretching their fuel capacity to its breaking point with one planned stop for the day. They hoped for enough yellow-flag running to conserve fuel. They opened Sunday with a a five-lap lead over RealDime Racing, whose Acura Integra got better fuel mileage allowing them to run a similar strategy, albeit driving the car harder. RealDime nearly overcame the deficit, finishing on the tail end of the same lap, but Near-Orbital Space Monkeys caught just enough yellow flags and managed their pace perfectly to hold on for the win. In just RealDime’s second race, the second-place finish is nothing to scoff at. Don’t be surprised if the World Challenge-spoofers score an overall win in the near future. The country-crossing Volvo fanatics of Vermont Bert-One managed their second podium finish in less than a month, taking their Volvo 262C to P3 after a runner-up finish last month at Gingerman Raceway. Volvos looked headed for a strong showing with Keystone Kops and Fastish and Furriest running 1-2 late Saturday, but both 240s broke in rapid succession with less than an hour remaining Saturday. That left Bert-One alone to represent Sweden (and Italy) in the Top 10. BAR(F) Honda, formerly known as Bill Danger, gave a clinic on overcoming handicap with their twice-winning Honda Accord. They started the race with six penalty laps and still managed a fourth-place finish while former runners-up Massholes similarly overcame an early long stop to fight back up to P5 at the checkered flag. Elsewhere in the Top 10, Scuderia Regurgito shook the bugs out of their BMW E36 (above) to finish sixth; if they can go longer between stops (see below), they should be able to climb to the next tier of LeMons competitors. Sorry for Party Racing (Pontiac Firebird) and 18901Motorsports.com (BMW E36) both quietly ran solid races to finish in the Top 10. Rust in the Wind’s turbo-Saab-powered Nissan 300ZX ascended the standings slowly throughout the weekend to sneak into P9. Rounding out the Top 10 was a tremendous Class B battle between Team Farfrumwinnin (Volkswagen Fox) and UranusorBust (Datsun 280ZX). The two cars’ performance mirrored each other. Farfrumwinnin ran a perfect two-stop Saturday, likely aided a bit by cautions and red flags while the Datsun struggled and made a half-dozen stops. Sunday found the opposite: UranusorBust ran two clean stints while the Fox made five stops. The end result was a mere 17-second margin of victory for Farfrumwinnin, who have built and rebuilt their tired Volkswagen countless times since its 2009 debut. The Fox clearly disliked the abuse, coming apart at the seams near the race’s finish and then failing to start after the race to get onto the trailer, but it lasted just long enough to give the team a much-deserved class win. Also in Class B, Speedycop’s Honda Accordion led the class early before one of the cylinder’s internals terminated itself. Speedycop and his team converted the V6 into a V4 for a short-lived return to the track. He also campaigned his twin-V8 Lincoln Continental, which suffered through tranmissions woes to turn 96 laps in what would probably be considered a fairly successful debut weekend for one of the veteran LeMoneer’s new engineering oddities. Hooniverse editor Kamil Kaluski also found himself in Class B with the Park Bench Racing Team (PBRT) Buick Regal (above). Despite a few fumbles, he and his compadres managed to finish 10th in class and 41st overall with his teammates, not a bad result in a 150-car field. Class C turned into a two-car race pretty early on with Little Engine That Shouldn’t Toyota Corolla leading the vast majority of the race in the class while the sprint-car-wing-adorned Dumb as a Brick Ford Mustang gave chase. Neither was remotely fast, but the Corolla was just fast enough to hang onto the win despite running very similar identical races. Full Nelson’s Saab 96 claimed third in class with a pretty strong run. The car’s Geo Metro powerplant has proven pretty reliable and they will likely get a class win eventually. Three-Pedal Mafia’s Boat looked in the hunt for the class win for most of Saturday until an accident destroyed the Sea Sprite’s fiberglass hull. The team patched it and returned to the track Sunday, but their class victory hopes evaporated. The team’s Lotus Cortina ran respectably, while the Buick 3800-swapped Triumph TR7 destroyed a pair of engines: The first exploded after two laps (lead photo) and the junkyard replacement never made it back to the track. The combined exploits earned them I Got Screwed honors. Team Sputnik brought a base-model Nissan Sentra along with a Porsche 924 powered by the same engine as the base-model Sentra. The two cars combined for more than 500 laps total, which—given the team’s poor historical performance of late—is about 400 more than one might have thought possible. Some will remember from the race preview the mention of a three-K-Car battle with three Chrysler K derivatives entered. As it turns out, two of them never made it onto the track, meaning Futility Motorsports’ Dodge Daytona won the least-awful K non-trophy by default despite a list of maladies that would be alarming if it were any other car. Nevertheless, it still managed a respectable P6 in Class C. Futility’s accomplishment in merely finishing would have earned them Index of Effluency honors, perhaps, if Super Grover’s P6 Rover 3500 loped around the track with proper British pomp and circumstance all weekend. It was sufficiently slow to never really make up positions, but it ran most of the weekend without issue to take home IOE honors.
BY THE NUMBERS
This race proved to incredibly physical with a mix of attrition and notoriously aggressive East Coast crapcan racers leaving a wake of wreckage on their way toward getting trailered for the weekend for repeated infractions. As a result, the long lap times from super-slow caution laps made it exceedingly difficult to calculate stints with absolute certainty. Nonetheless, I’ve done the best I can to compare the top competitors’ strategies as accurately as possible. As always, “stint” in this case refers to time in between stops, whether they are for fueling, fixing, or getting blasted by the LeMons Supreme Court for infringements of the mind, body, and racecar. To give a better understanding of each car’s capability in terms of stints, I’ve included the longest time between stops.
|Team||# Stints||Avg Stint (In Laps)||Longest stint (Laps)||Avg Lap Time||Avg Stint (Time in Min)||Avg Stop Time||Laps||POS|
|Near-Orbital Space Monkey||5||74.80||90||02:10.5||162.69||5:34||374||1|
|Sorry for Party||7||52.00||66||02:12.4||114.74||6:38||364||7|
|Rust in the Wind||8||45.25||69||02:12.7||100.08||5:45||362||9|
What should stand out is Near-Orbital Space Monkey’s 90-lap stint, which was the opening 3-1/2 hours (or so) from Sunday. The day’s second stint was 84 laps, too, so it’s not like they were slacking. That’s some incredible fuel mileage and restraint with a V8 under the hood, but they found enough luck to hold off RealDime’s Integra, which was much faster. The Space Monkeys nearly caught a break with one of Saturday’s red flags, but rather than just eeking onto pit lane, the Mustang was caught just a few car lengths short of pit entrance while safety crews attended to a burning hooptie. It appears that Sorry for Party did catch that break, either ducking into the pits before Race Control issued the red flag or being in the pit already. With the red flag lasting about 15 minutes, this gave them the opportunity to fuel while the rest of the field was stopped, giving essentially a zero-time pit stop. BAR(F) Honda set the bar high for stop times, averaging a staggering 4:28 per stop over five green-flag stops. No other team came close, though Scuderia Regurgito made haste with stops just over five minutes. They stretched their fuel to 60 laps at the end of Sunday, but they came up just short, needing a splash of gas with a little more than five minutes remaining to get them to the end.
|Class B Team||# Stints||Avg Stint (In Laps)||Longest stint (Laps)||Avg Lap Time||Avg Stint (Time)||Avg Stop Time||Laps||Class POS|
|Magic School Bus||7||51.14||66||02:13.7||113.96||6:37||358||3|
The top three in Class B demonstrate the confusing nature generated by the aforementioned confusing lap times. On paper, UranusorBust probably should have been able to make up ground from the additional stop to take the win. Similarly, the third-place Magic School Bus Racing Team strategy and execution should have earned them the win. Something’s screwy with the lap times that I can’t figure out, but it does still look insanely close by the numbers.
|Class C Team||# Stints||Avg Stint (In Laps)||Longest stint (Laps)||Avg Lap Time||Avg Stint (Time)||Avg Stop Time||Laps||Class POS|
|Dumb as a Brick||8||40.63||48||2:22||96.16||7:31||334||2|
Again, the Class C battle saw two cars whose performances were eerily similar. The 2.3-second-per-lap advantage proved to be the difference for The Little Engine That Shouldn’t, but the stop times and stint lengths are virtually identical. Overall Top 10 (Full standings via MyLaps) 1. #71 Near-Orbital Space Monkeys (Ford Mustang) – 374 Laps 2. #123 RealDimeRacing (Acura Integra) – 374 Laps, +50 seconds 3. #262 Vermont Bert-One (Volvo 262C) – 370 Laps 4. #106 BAR(F) Honda (Honda Accord) – 367 Laps 5. #508 Massholes (Ford Escort ZX2) – 367 Laps, +1:57 6. #131 Scuderia Regurgito (BMW E36) – 365 Laps 7. #35 Sorry for Party Racing (Pontiac Firebird) – 364 Laps 8. #47 18901Motorsports.com (BMW E36) – 363 Laps 9. #301 Rust in the Wind (Nissan 300ZX, Saab swap) – 362 Laps 10. #14 Team Farfrumwinnin (Volkswagen Fox) – 360 Laps CLASS B 1. #14 Team Farfrumwinnin (Volkswagen Fox) – 360 Laps 2. #199 UranusorBust (Datsun 280ZX) – 360 Laps, +17 seconds 3. #60 The Magic School Bus Racing Team (Subaru Forester) – 358 Laps 4. #992 SillyNannies2 (Audi S6) – 351 Laps 5. #21 Interceptor Motorsports (Ford Thunderbird) – 349 Laps 6. #3 Lemontarians (Dodge Neon) – 341 Laps 7. #59 Low-T Sewing Circle &Book Club (BMW E28) – 337 Laps 8. #24 The Carbeque (Saab 900) – 332 Laps 9. #102 Jynweythek Engineering (BMW 2002) – 331 Laps 10. #451 Park Bench Racing Team (Buick Regal) – 322 Laps CLASS C 1. #182 The Little Engine That Shouldn’t (Toyota Corolla) – 338 Laps 2. #461 Dumb as a Brick (Ford Mustang) – 334 Laps 3. #134 Full Nelson (Saab 96) – 321 Laps 4. #46 Dirty Penny Race Team (Datsun 510) – 299 Laps 5. #119 Team Sputnik (Nissan Sentra) – 294 Laps 6. #92 Futility Motorsports (Dodge Daytona) – 275 Laps 7. #42 3 Pedal Mafia (Chevy S-10/THE BOAT) – 269 Laps 8. #235 Prompt Critical (Ford Capri) – 259 laps 9. #911 Drunk Firemen (Chevy S-10) – 239 Laps 10. #83 3 Pedal Mafia (Ford Cortina) – 215 Laps [Photos: Murilee Martin]