Hooniverse 24 Hours of Lemons: Buick skips a race

The  24 Hours of LeMons’ “Halloween Hooptiefest” is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. Eric gave a brief preview of it yesterday. I’m sad to report that for the first time in four years The Park Bench Racing Team will not be racing at the Hooptiefest.
It’s not the race, it’s us. The last race at Thompson, the famous-ish GP du Lac Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg kicked the Buick’s ass pretty well. Since then we, the team, could not get our collective shit together to fix the car and get it race ready. Jobs, families, and other boring adult responsibilities got in our way.

So what went wrong for us at GP du Lac Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg?
It was an extremely hot and humid weekend. Despite the car running like a true chump champ at the New Jersey race, we went over everything before GP du Lac Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg to make sure the Buick was race ready. And it was. For the good part of Saturday we were doing very good. The custom-made one-off, because it cannot possibly be replicated, cooled seat worked amazingly well.
Then, in the early afternoon, just as I was about to go for my stint, my teammate pulled into the pits. The engine was smoking. Upon seeing the white smoke coming from under the hood, the safety guy working the pits lost his shit and literally ripped the hood off in an attempt to put out the fire that is not there.
We limped the Buick into the paddock. We looked everything over, did some troubleshooting and testing. It was a cooling issue but we are not sure exactly what it is. We cooled off the engine, filled the radiator with water, and got it running. I went out for my stint.
For shits and giggles I took the bench off the trunk just to see how it would drive without the additional drag, down-force, weight, and higher center of gravity.
Within three laps the car was overheating again. Not only that, I didn’t like the handling of bench-less aero-bullet, even if speeds on straights were faster. Perhaps it was the inconsistent surface and technical turns of Thompson Speedway. Perhaps I did not have enough heat in the tires. Or perhaps it was me who was not fully warmed up. The car was understeering a lot more and in some turns the rear wanted to break loose. I did not expect any of that after the stellar performance in New Jersey.
Torrential rains in the afternoon, along with the ridiculous heat, prevented us from working on the car. We were all also kind of tired and discouraged at this point. This is where we, as a team, differ from many other teams. We don’t exactly love fixing our car in the paddock. Screw the Heroic Fix trophy, there is food to be eaten, beers to be drunk, and gentlemen’s clubs to be enjoyed – not that we did any of that.
After another failed attempt at racing on Sunday, we packed it up.
On a post-race wrenching day we found blown head gaskets and possibly warped heads. We decided to get another donor car, as Pontiac Grand Prix of similar vintage, because it was the cheapest solution. This is our third donor car and our fourth engine. Surprisingly, what was always thought to be the weakest part of the drivetrain, the transmission, has never gone bad.
We will be back in Mat at The Real Hoopties of New Jersey. The plan is to have the Lada ready for GP du Lac Chargoggetcetera (I do not like the new abbreviated name!) in August, 2017.

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6 responses to “Hooniverse 24 Hours of Lemons: Buick skips a race”

  1. jeepjeff Avatar

    Helluva Hooptiefest to miss. Life gets in the way sometimes, but I’m super excited that things are/will be happening with the Lada!

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      I know.
      I’m kinda afraid of racing the Lada – it’s such a small car.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Three of the five cars I’ve driven in LeMons races are smaller than the Lada. My advice is to try to avoid hitting things.

        1. Lokki Avatar

          Be sure to paint the rear of the Lada in very bright colors so people will notice you when you’re (not) accelerating out of the turns. Also, five or six “Baby on Board” stickers cause everybody knows not to have accidents with cars that have babies on boards.

  2. smokyburnout Avatar
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