Thunderhill Raceway holds some level of distinction (almost certainly not the right word) in 24 Hours of LeMons history: It was home to the cheap-car racing series’ first event held outside of a claustrophobic oval’s “road course” in December 2007, making it also the longest-running LeMons venue. This weekend finds it trying to pen a new chapter in both LeMons’ and the Guinness record books. “Vodden the Hell Are We Doing?” finds LeMons racing on Thunderhill’s new, expanded five-mile circuit (the Thunderschleife to some).
In California, LeMons races are often space-restricted, but the long track will allow the largest race in series history and also likely the biggest road race in, well, road-racing history. I could tell you how many cars are expected and so forth, but it’s no fun if I don’t make you read on after the jump to find that out. Rest assured, however, that this race will be considerably less crowded on the track than shoving 180 cars on Sonoma Raceway’s 2.5 miles, although it seems that the paddock might be a bit cramped.
It’s a bit early to comment on weather forecasts, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be around 90 degrees and sunny all weekend. Most importantly, this hack writer will be traveling to California to work as a member of the LeMons Supreme Court alongside Hooniverse luminaries Tim Odell and Murilee Martin, possibly with another LeMons aficionado onboard. It’s unlikely I’ll be liveblogging this one due to travel constraints, but I will likely be posting updates on the social media. As promised, read more about the record attempt and get the unofficial entry list after the jump.
The record attempt
Alright, I won’t hold you in suspense any longer: The number of registered teams for this race is 242 (You can see the whole list here). Of course, that’s the number of registered teams. Usually, about three to five percent of registered teams don’t show for a given race or never get on the track, so the final number might be a little smaller.
You may be asking what the current record for the largest auto race is and the answer is: Nobody’s yet set that record so this will be an attempt to establish a record. Of course, it costs actual money to fly a representative from the record book to come and verify the record, but there are other, less-expensive ways to establish the record without a Guinness representative. So that will be what’s happening at Thunderhill.
You can read more about the record attempt here, being organized by Julian Cordle, a LeMons racer who holds the current Guinness World Record for longest wiffle ball marathon in history. More importantly, Cordle is raising money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
So what can you expect from the field? Here’s the breakdown of cars by make, for some reason or another:
4 Saturns (All one team)
4 Alfa Romeo
[Picture to abate tedium]
1 Jensen Healey
I wish I got paid by column inches.
Class C and Index of Effluency
For those unfamiliar, Class C is the provenance of the world’s worst cars. Usually, they’re old and worn-out, beaten-on and discarded, rotted in farm fields and rescued from The Crusher. Some were designed for the track a half-century ago and have been eclipsed by modern-day econoboxes. Some barely put a tire on a test track when they were new. All of them carry some value of effluence, a word that in the dictionary means nothing motorsports-related but has come to mean “Of the highest order of LeMons.”
Rather than try to describe the Class C field in depth, I’ll try to cover a handful of cars, listed randomly, with a dozen or fewer words each. As always, these are just my opinions of the classes before the race; actual classing is done the Friday before the race by the LeMons Supreme Court on the spot without premeditation blah blah blah. And while I’m a member of The Court this weekend, I will unfortunately miss BS Inspection, have nothing to do with classing at this race, and don’t speak for anyone who does.
Useless Old People (Isuzu Impulse) – Handling by Lotus. Broken hips by neighborhood ruffians.
Faster Farms X: I’m Too Old for this Sh** (Plymouth Belvedere) – A car with more wrinkles than useless old people.
Spank the Builder and the Can-Do Crew (Mystery car) – It doesn’t matter what it is; it’ll entertain the Hoons.
The Paris Nihilist Commune’s Committee on Racing Anti Effort (Renault R10) – Spank found a Rube to take ownership.
Flaming A-Holes (Rover SD1, above) – Because a Sunbeam Imp wasn’t awful enough for these Anglophiles.
Pit Crew Revenge C (Rover SD1) – No Rovers for seven years and now two in one race? Surreal.
Re-Start Racing (Ford Ranger) – Trucks win Class C regularly and are usually kind of boring.
Pit Crew Revenge B (Mazda B2200) – Trucks with a camper on the back win Class C less often and are less boring.
Blame the Duster (Plymouth Duster) – Hopefully with a Slant-6.
Dudes Ex Machina (Plymouth Scamp) – Definitely with a Slant-6.
Zerobelow (Chevy Corvair, above) – Barely running at any speed.
PeugeotDaddy (1963 Peugeot 404) – A dignified early favorite for Index of Effluence, probably.
Panting Polar Bear Racing 2 (Rambler Classic) – Former IOE winner, gracefully slow. Stately, even.
Le Citron (Pontiac LeMans) – LeMans comes to LeMons. The French weep into their wine.
Bangers N Mash (Jensen-Healey) – Fresh off a remarkable Heroic Fix at Miller Motorsports Park.
Silicon Junkyard Racing (Datsun 1600) – A new heap: Old Datsuns can be anywhere from scary to beautiful.
LOL Racing (Volvo 1800) – Finished P33 out of 180 cars and somehow didn’t win Class C (Does have an IOE). Could be a favorite for the class win.
Team -ing With Additional Bad Ideas (Austin Mini) – CrazyMike Kimball has upgraded from the World’s Worst Volkswagen.
Killer Zombees (MGB, above) – Never heard of it.
Billy Beer Racing (Ford Fairmont Futura) – I’m still giving them a 0 percent chance of winning the class.
D5 Racing (Triumph TR7) – Triumph? More like harumph! (I actually like TR7s, probably because I’ve never owned one.)
The Black Flags (Toyota Celica Supra) – A safe bet to finish between P50 and P85. That’s a very specific bet, I suppose. Good luck finding a bookie.
Directionally Challenged Racing (International Scout) – Mustang running gear has all the pulleys ‘n’ flows ‘n’ readership pandering.
As Seen on TV Racing (Kia Rio) – Appliance-grade hardware might be too good for Class C at this race. Could be bumped to B.
Pony Keg (Oldsmobile Cutlass) – One of the most miserable teams on the track. Probably having a good time, though.
Team Apathy (Honda 600) – I called them awful in Buttonwillow preview. They showed me with an awesome race. Root for these guys and the turbocharged Saab engine stuffed in this thing.
The middle class of LeMons can be tough these days. Cars range from reliable-and-efficient tortoises to nimble-but-frequently-resting hares. As such, you tend to find a great variety of cars that mix it up over the course of 14-1/2 hours of hard racing where average laptimes, pitstop times, and stint lengths all combine to render the races extraordinary strategic exercises. Naturally, given that this is LeMons, the reward must be intrinsic because a duel for a win in LeMons is like two bald men fighting over a comb. Nevertheless, here are a few dozen of those bald comb-combatants, described with the least amount of effort I can muster.
Uber Vogel: Hans Am (Mercedes 190E, above) – One of the oldest LeMons cars still running. A top 10 car but no class win somehow.
Old Crows (Ford Mustang) – V6 is the Mustang engine you want and the glorious warbird paintscheme is first-rate.
Flailing Lizard Motorsports (Ford Escort ZX2) – Former Class B winners with quality Flying Lizards race team parody.
New York Rock Exchange (A Bunch of Crap) – Five entries plucked from the junk pile. Jacks for all cars, master cylinders for none.
Team Tinyvette (Opel GT) – World’s fastest LeMon! Usually a binary outcome: Contends for class win or nukes its engine in first hour.
Team 5150 (Datsun 240Z) – Hot for Pizza! I don’t know what that means, but it lets me link to this rock band I like.
Swedish Monarchs Racing (Volvo 740, above) – Volvos are tough and staying on track matters in Class B.
Neon Pope (Dodge Neon) – Is a Popemobile made from a Chrysler economy car better than no Popemobile at all? Yes.
Stealth Alien Hunters (Pontiac Fiero) – Teams that stay with Fieros seem to like them after suffering misery for a half dozen races or so.
Dirty Little Freaks (Mercedes 300SD) – A super-slow oil burner that will be surprisingly competitive.
Model T GT and Pinto Bean Bandits (Ford Pinto, #67) – The cheatiest of Class B entries, probably. Probably the favorite in the class.
Pit Crew Revenge (A Bunch of Crap) – Six entries should span Class B and Class C. Usually lots of rental drivers.
Communists R Not Us (BMW E21, above) – Another of the top Class B teams in a well-sorted 320i.
Red Hot Chili Poopers (Chevy Aveo) – Newest car in the field and usually perform reasonably well for a rebadged Daewoo.
Pinewood Dirtbags (2 Chevy LUVs) – Both trucks have won Class C now. Hopeless in Class B, but still great old rebadged Isuzus.
Ecurie Ecrappe (Alfa Romeo Spider) – The oldest LeMons car left running and also kind-of-sort-of run a bit by LeMons HQ.
Learning2Turn (Pontiac Firebird) – Like the Mustang, these pony cars seem to do best with a V6. Will probably be highest-finishing GM F-Body.
Occupy Pit Lane (Chevy Camaro) – Kiwis, like the Brits, will never misspell the car name because they pronounce it “Ca-MARR-o.” (Otherwise, the best way to find a Camaro on CraigsList is with search term “Camero.”)
Nerd Herd 13.0 (Ford Mustang, above) – The Nerd Herd have been through a few cars and are usually a non-factor in “winning,” which is not a thing that actually matters.
The Hasselhoffs (Toyota Paseo) – The Paseo once finished 21st overall with the 137th-slowest lap in a race.
Licensed to Ill (Chevy S10) – Bumpin’ minitruck.
NYANCAR (BMW E28) – A fine selection of one song on repeat at Top Volume. Endlessly. Except minor breaks.
Easy 908/14 (Porsche 914) – Golf-engined 914 is extremely fast, sounds great, and usually breaks.
Class A & Overall
I initially planned on writing haiku for all of these cars in the preview, but writing 17 cogent syllables (not that any of this is intelligible) is somehow more work. Anyway, these are the cars I’d expect to compete for the win overall, including eight former race-winning cars (listed first).
Cerveza Racing (BMW E28, above) – Six wins in LeMons and undefeated at Thunderhill. They hand out beer on Friday; this is how a winner endears themselves to other racers. Also, they race cleanly. That helps.
Model T GT and Pinto Bean Bandits (Ford Model T) – Five all-time wins. Their success depends heavily on who’s driving the crapcan hot rod.
Pistola Alto (Nissan 300ZX) – Sprint race winner, P3 at The Ridge. Name means “Poorly translated innuendo.”
Too Stupid To Know Better (Volvo 740) – Only Redblock Volvo ever to win LeMons; beat Model T at Miller Motorsports Park.
Eyesore Racing (Mazda Miata) – Five LeMons wins but none since March 2012. Still have what they need to win, need some good luck.
Alfa Romeo Syndicate Eccelente (Alfa Romeo Milano) – Won on East Coast in 2011 and still a capable team.
Team California Mille (2 Alfa Romeo GTV6, above) – Won first race at The Ridge. Glory, glory V6 howling.
The Fat and the Furious (Geo Metro Gnome) – The first noteworthy Franken-LeMon, a Hayabusa-powered Metro, is now on its second owner.
Dirty Duck Racing (Volkswagen Rabbit) – This GTI is a Class B winner and has twice finished in the Top 5.
Bunny With or Without a Pancake On Its Head (Volkswagen Rabbit) – An old meme reference that finished fourth at Thunderhill last year.
Hella Sh**ty Racing (2 BMW E30, a Volkswagen Beetle, and a Porsche 911 TDI) – Four cars from a team that is simultaneously improving and going crazy.
Roadrace Jones (Nissan Sentra SE-R) – This car has been around the block a bit, this being its 20th race. They’ve come within a hair’s breadth of a win.
Speedchimp Racing (Mazda RX-7) – This car is up for sale currently, but the allure of a record attempt has brought it out one last time.
How Are These Guys Winning? (Eagle Talon, above) – DSM cars are terrible in LeMons, but this automatic Talon has twice won Class B and finished in the Top 5. How, indeed.
Panting Polar Bear Racing (Ford Crown Victoria) – In addition to the Rambler, Panting Polar Bear have this Class B-winning copmobile.
B-Team – Kill Phil E30 (BMW E30) – They’ve not been super competitive lately, but the Pussy Wagen theme is always noteworthy.
ONSET/Tetanus West (Chevy Cavalier) – Defending driver champion Anton Lovett’s baby, a V6 Cavalier that dominated Class B at The Ridge with a fourth-place finish.
Mutter Fokker Motorsports (BMW E30) – Just another well-run E30.
Idiotarod (Mazda Miata) – A 1,200-pound, snowmobile-powered Miata that sounds awful but hauls the mail. The fastest two-stroke crapcan in the world, likely.
Flying Scotsmen (2 BMW E30, above) – Two more well-run E30s. Probably won’t win, but they are easily Top 10-capable.
Goleta Lemon Festival Special (BMW E28) – The second-best BMW 5-series in the field, several orders of magnitude behind Cerveza Racing. Then again, so is nearly everyone else.
Volcano Motorsports (BMW E36) – One of three teams that could have the first LeMons-winning E36s.
Super Troop (Mercury Zephyr) – Another Class B winner with a Top 5 finish. Doing it in a Fox Body sedan scores major bonus points.
The Faustest Team (BMW E30) – This is a fast field, but this will be one of the five fastest entries.
Tired Iron Racing (Mazda Miata) – They’ll need some help to outpace the top of the field, but they regularly finish in the Top 10.
OLD Fast Auto Race Team & Sons (Audi 200, Audi 4000, Porsche 924S) – The two Audis finished P6 and P7 at Buttonwillow and the Porsche has finished in the Top 5.
Could be the first Audi to win a LeMons race. (Too late)
Clowntown Road Show (BMW E30) – Still another good E30.
Hit and Run Racing (Mazda RX-7, above) – A Ford 302-swapped FC that is plenty fast.
Dust N Debris (Plymouth Duster) – Miracle workers. Well-organized and actually have a chance to win a race with a relative of That K-Car. If they do, they’ll be the first team to win all three classes and Index of Effluency with the same car. Root for this team; they deserve it.
The Flying Lumberjacks (Volkswagen Fox) – A team that is way faster than this car seems capable of.
Absolute Lemon Motorsports (BMW E30) – A decent E30 team.
D.A.R.E. (BMW E36) – The second of two potential teams to claim the first E36 win.
Portlandia Motoring Society (Mazda RX-7) – A solid, if a little green, Wankel squad.
The Cannonball Bandits (Toyota Supra) – [Deep sigh] This Vortec V8-swapped Supra should dominate races, but the team have a propensity for misery. Abject, utter, (frequently self-induced) misery. They will compete with Eyesore, the Model T GT, Faustest Team, Idiotarod, and Sour Aviation for the fastest race lap. So that’s something. [Another deep sigh]
Mazdarachis (Mazda RX-7) – A quietly competent team with a quiet (and therefore competent) rotary. Pro tip, Wankel racers: The ones that win don’t usually detonate ear drums from a 1/2-mile away.
IWannaRoc (Chevy Camaro) – Usually misidentified as the Team Steam “IROC Maiden” car. This is far slower, but far more consistent. This team rented the Model T GT and took it to victory lane at The Ridge in July.
Sour Aviation Racing (Ford Mustang, above) – Would have a win if they raced anywhere but the West Coast. Screwed at Thunderhill last year by a surprise Day One Dyno Test that bumped them one lap back for every horsepower over what they claimed it should make (“It’s bone stock” cost them about 20 laps.)
Ace Pump Racing (BMW E36) – Potentially winning E36, three of three. Collect ’em all!
Longshots: Expendable (BMW E30), Two Many Wheels (Mazda Miata), Team Mayhem Racing (Mazda RX-7).
So I’ve covered less than half the field at this race. Want to help out? Pick out a team from the entry list that I didn’t mention and write 1-20 words on it in the comments section. Let’s crowdsource this chicanery! Did I use that word right? Crowdsource? Is that the one where you send me money?
Please send me money.*
|Some mildly important information|
|Event page||Vodden the Hell Are We Doing?|
|About the track||Thunderhill Trackpedia page|
|Onboard video from New York Rock Exchange test day|
|Saturday Session (PST)||10 a.m. to 6 p.m.|
|Sunday Session (PST)||9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.|
|LeMons Lap Record (Not this race’s config)||Model T GT – 2:13.9|
|Overall Winners||2007 – Team Red Meat (Mazda Protégé)|
|2008 – Team Geo Metro-Gnome (Geo Metro)|
|2009 – Pandamonium Racing (BMW E30)|
|2010 – Off Consistently (Nissan 300ZX)|
|2011 – Geo Player Special (Geo Metro)|
|2012 – Cerveza Racing (BMW E28)|
|2013 – Cerveza Racing (BMW E28)|
|Class B Winners||2007 – Fantasy Junction/Inaccuracy (Acura Integra)|
|2008 – Eyesore FrankenMiata (Mazda Miata)/The Flakes (Volvo 240)**|
|2009 – Team Hurling Moss (BMW 2002)|
|2010 – Spirit of Joe (Volkswagen Golf)|
|2011 – Eco Challenged (Porsche 944)|
|2012 – Clueless Party Vikings Vintage Vikings Racers Group (Mustang)|
|2013 – Chump Ganasee Targee Racing (Eagle Talon)|
|Class C Winners||2007 – PBRD/Car and Driver Jr. Varsity (Mazda RX-7)|
|2008 – Team Bigfoot Hunter (Ford Escort)|
|2009 – Guud Humor Racing (Ford Ranger)|
|2010 – Dai Hard 2: Die Another Day (Daihatsu Charade)|
|2011 – Team Tinyvette (Opel GT)|
|2012 – As Seen On TV Racing (Kia Rio)|
|2013 – Dirty Little Freaks (Mercedes 300SD)|
|Index of Effluency Winners||2007 – Size Matters Chrysler (Plymouth Fury)|
|2008 – B210 Racing (Datsun B210)|
|2009 – Purple Lemon Racing (Volkswagen Beetle)|
|2010 – King Henry V8th (Cadillac Seville)|
|2011 – Team Le Mopar SIMCAcuda (Simca 1204)|
|2012 – Team Tinworm (Humber Super Snipe)|
|2013 – LOL Racing (Volvo 1800)|
* Don’t really send me money.
** LeMons at one time had four classes. Eyesore and The Flakes finished in the middle two classes.
[Photos: Murilee Martin]