24 Hours of LeMons: 'Southern Discomfort' recap

Lede_1 Pardon while I catch up on some race recap housekeeping, as this 24 Hours of LeMons recap covers not last weekend’s race (Coming soon) but rather the previous weekend’s foray, “Southern Discomfort,” at Carolina Motorsports Park in South Carolina. It was an interesting, attrition-filled race that saw an unprecedented number of Class B cars in the Top 10 at weekend’s end and a familiar name on top of the timing sheets. Let’s dive into a bit of the nuts, bolts, and sheared wheel studs before looking at the race by the numbers. RC_Spiders In what will surprise few who follow the series, RC Spiders (above) walked away with the overall victory by six laps. They gained their substantial margin by running Saturday’s 8-1/2 hours on just two fuel stops while most of their Class A competitors suffered terminal crapcan failures and those who didn’t made three or more stops. The win marks their second of the season and their fourth in the last two years, nearly all of which have been decided by considerable margins. Runners-up Grim Reaper Racing made the most of their opportunity, taking their V6 Ford Mustang to its best finish of all time. They were neither the fastest nor the most fuel efficient, but very fast stops and no mechanical woes made the difference in earning a solid P2 performance. Team SOB – Sick of Breaking hadn’t finished on the podium in several years with their Volkswagen Golf, but that’s exactly what they did with a third-place finish. This came despite a broken transmission early in the race, meaning they ran nearly 12 hours with only fourth gear. They still managed respectable lap times and because of the lower revs, they made spectacular fuel mileage, running nearly four hours on a full tank. The mid-Sunday break played to their advantage as well, meaning they ran the whole day without having to make a green-flag fuel stop. moldecarlo The only other Class A car to manage a Top 10 finish was Red Neck Rampage Racin’s BMW E28. They contended early for the lead with 2013 CMP winner Moldecarlo, but their fuel mileage and a minor issue or two set them back enough that P6 was all they could manage. As mentioned, Moldecarlo (above) and fellow CMP winner from last year Racing Nemo both broke partway through Saturday. Keystone Kops’ V8-powered Volvo 240 was in the mix until late Saturday, but a failure in the session’s final hour ended their race. Hong Norrth and Smokey Unit never really materialized as competitors, though the Smokey Unit turbodiesel-powered Fiat clocked the weekend’s fastest lap by nearly two seconds. Presumptive podium contenders Back to the Past suffered just enough setbacks to keep them out of the Top 10 for the first time in nearly two years, though they still salvaged 11th place. Junk_Male The real scrap came in Class B, where no fewer than five different teams looked good for the win after the initial early-race jostling. At the end of the day Saturday, Generar Ree’s Datsun 260Z finished less than one second ahead of Junk Male’s Subaru Legacy (above) with the impressively quick Team Scrap Iron Ford Escort a lap behind. Knoxvegas Lowballers‘ V6-powered Geo Metro lay two laps down and Bump Drafting Misfits’ Dodge Neon three laps, giving the look of an outright melee heading into Sunday. The pre-Quiet Hour session brough issues for the class-leading Datsun as Generar Ree made three stops in those two hours, ceding the lead to Junk Male. In the meantime, Team Scrap Iron passed both cars at the drop of the green flag to put the car on the tail end of the lead lap and then the Escort simply ran down Junk Male to overtake for the class lead. As the post-Quiet Hour session carried on, Scrap Iron stretched their lead to two laps for their first class win and a P4 finish overall. Gotta_Go_Gast As with B, Class C separated itself nicely by mid-day Saturday into a three-car battle. Mock Grass’ Kia pulled out a big class lead before a tire failure in Saturday’s last hour cost them about 15 minutes. They replaced the tire and made it back out to take the day’s checkered flag with just one lap on rookies Gotta Go Fast and their Geo Metro (above), a car that blared Taylor Swift all weekend through a loudspeaker in the cruelest form of psychological warfare. Austin Powerless’ plucky Austin Marina hung on two laps back. The morning session on Sunday saw Gotta Go Fast splitting the two hours with a stop that cost them a couple of laps, but it likely would not have mattered. Mock Grass had just enough pace to stretch the lead all day Sunday into a five-lap advantage at the end of the race, a welcome class victory after several near misses. Gotta Go Fast held onto second in class by a single lap from Austin Powerless, who proved that a well-prepared British Leyland product is still slower than a stock Geo Metro. NSF Top honors for the weekend, the Index of Effluency, went to NSF Racing’s chop-top 1956 Ford LTD, a column-shift hooptie that somehow cracked the top half of the standings despite its glacial pace.  I’d write about the subjective trophies, but Murilee Martin said it all far better than I can on the traditional Car and Driver winners post.  

BY THE NUMBERS

Sunday’s broken-up schedule with two hours in the morning, a mandatory Quiet Hour, and then four hours in the afternoon meant that most competitive teams could run the entire day with only one fuel stop and driver change in the afternoon. From the average stop times, it’s pretty easy to gather that CMP used a hot pit, so every team should have been on an equal footing in terms of pit times (mending the car aside). 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. That said, I also included the longest time between stops to demonstrate where each car’s limit lies. Nearly every team ran the two-hour morning session non-stop with about 42-44 laps, so those should all bring down average stint times equally. Without further adieu, here’s how the Top 10 finishers shaped up and you can find a little more information on the times between stops here.

Team (Class) # Stints Avg Stint (In Laps) Longest Stint (Laps) Avg Lap Time Avg Stint (Time, Min) Avg Stop Time Laps
RC Spiders 6 63.67 78 02:10.2 138.16 06:42.3 382
Grim Reaper 10 37.60 44 02:12.2 82.84 05:05.4 376
Team SOB 5 75.00 112 02:13.0 166.25 06:00.7 375
Scrap Iron (B) 7 53.43 68 02:11.5 117.1 07:56.0 374
Junk Male (B) 6 62.00 78 02:13.7 138.16 07:38.0 372
Red Neck Rampage 10 36.80 53 02:13.6 81.94 05:51.1 368
Knoxvegas Lowballers (B) 11 33.27 58 02:14.5 74.58 06:12.9 366*
Bump Drafting (B) 11 33.00 43 02:15.7 74.64 06:26.9 363
Generar Ree (B) 12 30.25 53 02:12.4 66.75 06:06.7 365*
Turkstra Motorsports (B) 11 32.91 52 02:15.0 74.04 05:43.8 362

RC Spiders won through consistent, clean stints. Their Saturday stint lengths were almost perfectly even in terms of laps: 75, 77, and 78. They followed that up with a 76-lap run during the Sunday afternoon stint; the only things that bring their average down was Sunday morning’s 44 laps in two hours and the 32-lap remainder after their Sunday afternoon stop. It doesn’t hurt that they were also fastest on average in relation to the rest of the field. By contrast, Grim Reaper averaged only 82 minutes per stint, but they were also very consistent with stints between 33 and 40 laps all weekend. They stretched that to 44 laps to last the Sunday morning session, but they made up for it with by far the fastest stops of any Top 10 team, averaging a touch over 5:00 (which includes Delta time down the pit lane and an out lap). Team SOB is probably the most impressive performance here, running as long as 112 laps without stopping, which comes out to right around four hours. With only fourth gear, that means the car was sipping fuel and it was still fifth-fastest in the Top 10 in terms of average laps. Team Scrap Iron’s pace made the difference in Class B, their two seconds per lap advantage overcoming the added stop they had over Junk Male, who impressively ran a similar strategy to RC Spiders (albeit with less pace and longer fuel stops). Knoxvegas Lowballers and Generar Ree each took two penalty laps, it appears. Generar Ree’s extra stops caught them out despite their good pace while the Lowballers’ speed was just enough to squeeze past Bump Drafting Misfits.

Class C Team # Stints Avg Stint (In Laps) Longest Stint (Laps) Avg Lap Time Avg Stint (Time, Min) Avg Stop Time Laps
Mock Grass 9 38.44 55 02:21.3 90.53 07:17.8 346
Gotta Go Fast 11 31.00 56 02:22.8 73.78 06:15.7 341
Austin Powerless 9 37.78 61 02:25.0 91.3 05:51.8 340

Simply put, Mock Grass did everything they needed to finish strongly: Solid stint lengths and a speed advantage. Gotta Go Fast were a new team, but they look pretty strong in their debut. Had they cut 2 stops out (as their maximum stint indicates the car is capable of) the class race would have been awfully close. Austin Powerless were Class C’s pit stop champions (not surprising because they share some personnel with Grim Reaper Racing) and ran basically a flawless race, but they needed to catch a break from Mock Grass and Gotta Go Fast, who were ultimately just a bit too fast. OVERALL TOP 10 (Full results on MyLaps here): 1. #281 RC Spiders (Mercedes 190E) – 382 Laps 2. #13 Grim Reaper Racing (Ford Mustang) – 376 Laps 3. #811 Team SOB – Sick of Breaking (Volkswagen Golf) – 375 Laps 4. #23 Team Scrap Iron (Ford Escort) – 374 Laps 5. #619 Junk Male (Subaru Legacy) – 372 Laps 6. #62 Red Neck Rampage Racin’ (BMW E28) – 368 Laps 7. #91 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Geo Metro, V6 swap) – 364 Laps 8. #332 Bump Drafting Misfits (Dodge Neon) – 363 Laps 9. #701 Generar Ree (Datsun 260Z) – 363 Laps 10. #75 Howard J Turkstra Motorsports (Toyota Celica) – 362 Laps CLASS B 1. #23 Team Scrap Iron (Ford Escort) – 374 Laps 2. #619 Junk Male (Subaru Legacy) – 372 Laps 3. #91 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Geo Metro, V6 swap) – 364 Laps 4. #332 Bump Drafting Misfits (Dodge Neon) – 363 Laps 5. #701 Generar Ree (Datsun 260Z) – 363 Laps 6. #75 Howard J Turkstra Motorsports (Toyota Celica) – 362 Laps 7. #80 Team Tortoise (Ford Crown Victoria) – 352 Laps 8. #44 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Ford Contour SVT) – 346 Laps 9. #42 PBR (Subaru Outback) – 343 Laps 10. #211 Mullet Racing (Chevy Camaro) – 338 Laps CLASS C 1. #40 Mock Grass Racing (Kia Sephia) – 346 Laps 2. #22 Gotta Go Fast (Geo Metro) – 341 Laps 3. #2 Austin Powerless (Austin Marina) – 340 Laps 4. #3 Idle Clatter Racing (Mercedes 300D) – 320 Laps 5. #911 John Galt Motorsports (Chevy S10) – 289 Laps 6. #551 Tunachuckers (Ford LTD) – 271 Laps 7. #225 E30/6 (BMW E30, Slant Six swap) – 261 Laps 8. #56 NSF Racing (Ford LTD) – 235 Laps 9. #24 Chariots on Fire (Toyota Prius) – 234 Laps 10. #5 Rubbin’ is Racing (Pontiac Fiero) – 167 Laps   Follow Eric on Twitter and on Facebook. [Photos: Murilee Martin]

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