The Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah was host to the very first Return of the LeMonites 24 Hours of LeMons, drawing 67 teams from three different states. Friday’s inspection did not disappoint, sporting vehicles ranging from the deceptively slow Mercedes Benz S500 to the deceptively fast Dodge Caravan with a Van Gogh. But in a weekend dominated by European models, it is only fitting to note the European mishaps, starting with the Maserati Biturbo by Punk Pirates with OCD. Following a fixed engine and replacement turbos Friday night, the Maserati saw just two laps of action Saturday before completely frying the engine. A tough break for Punk Pirates, who still managed to outdo 8 Bit Racing’s Subaru RX Turbo 50 yard appearance in laps, but not hilarity and frustration. The RX ran into some busted pistons due to overheating moments into the race.
As expected, the race in Utah saw its share of Mormon based decoration. Dirty Duck Racing displayed their VW GTI accompanied by a group of Mormon Missionaries, and Utah’s own Stick Figure Racing turned their Toyota MR2 into a cheeky model of the 1930’s land speedster the Mormon Meteor. Another interesting story developing out of Friday’s inspection was a pair of modest British junkers competing in Class C: the Jensen Healey, and the Rover SD1. With the Healey taking the track, this was the first time anyone bothered racing this “Torqueless Wonder” in LeMons’ history. The Rover, Jensen Healey’s fellow Brit model, relied on its V8 engine for its superior torque. Another competitor emerging out of Class C was the 1950 Dodge Pickup, which, just weeks prior, was sans suspension, brakes, rear axle and safety equipment. It did, however, come with a Chrysler flathead six engine. Anticipation was high after Friday’s inspection, and the weekend delivered.
And so the days progressed, bringing forth hours of racing. Some of it was heroic, some heart-wrenching, but never was there a dull moment. As much as we wish we could state that everyone is a winner, that regrettably was not true.
24 Hours of LeMons Utah: The Winners!
Tech inspection came and went on Friday, and with it a slew of extraordinary vehicles. We watched as three European cars took class leads on Saturday, and as the waving of the checkered flag signaled the end of Sundays racing we celebrated the winners of the first annual Return of the LeMonites 24 Hours of LeMons.
Class A Victory: Too Stupid to Know Better
With the most overall laps, plus a Class A victory, this valiant Volvo 740 Turbo became the first ever Volvo-engined Volvo to get a 24 Hours of LeMons overall win (back in 2009 we saw a Volvo 244 powered by a Ford 302 win the Arse Sweat-a-Palooza. In fact, this rig was built by a team that once included the very well known, and quite honorable Judge Phil). Moreover, the Too Stupid To Know Betters’ Volvo 740 may just be the first Volvo 700 series to make such a defiant of a comeback as they did, climbing the ranks all the way from near rock bottom.
Despite the fact that their Volvo 740 wagon wasn’t the fastest car out there, Too Stupid to Know Better’s mixture of reliability, excellent fuel consumption, and low risk driving style mustered up a victory while holding onto a five lap cushion. Throughout the entire race the car endured, running near flawlessly. Thus we congratulate Too Stupid To Know Better on a much-deserved win!
Class B Winner: Dirty Duck Racing
After five years of coming up short, Dirty Duck Racing was finally able to hold their much deserved Class B trophy with pride. Within their first proper LeMons class win they spent the majority of it dueling Pinto Beans Ford Pinto for the lead, and ultimately able to emerged from the skirmish unscathed, winning by a fairly comfortable seven laps.
Class C Winner: Team Village People
LeMons races often come down to the wire, featuring nail-biting finishes with single lap leads. Drivers are left hoping that the car won’t end up in flames somewhere along that final straight. For Team Village People over in Class C though, this wasn’t the case. Following several disappointing finishes in California, the Porsche 914 was able to do what many deemed to be impossible. It obliterated the Class C competition, winning by a staggering 95-lap lead over the nearest challenger. Team Village People could have just halted their racing for the weekend with around three hours left, cracked open a few beers to start celebrating their victory, and still won.
I Got Screwed Award: Flaming A-Holes
While not the most coveted of trophies, the “I Got Screwed Award” still has to go to someone. In this case, it was the Flaming A-Holes in their Rover SD1. While the words Rover and trophy often fail to go hand in hand at LeMons races, the team managed to come out on top (or bottom depending on how you look at it). Somehow they were able to wrangle that beast around the track for a remarkable 261 laps but came up just a bit short, not being able to get hold of either the Index of Effluency or Organizer’s Choice trophy. I guess you could say they got screwed.
Most Heroic Fix: New York Rock Exchange
In LeMons racing you often go into it just hoping that your car doesn’t end up on fire at any point during the weekend. But what happens when you haven’t even made it to the race and are already facing devastating breakdowns? New York Rock Exchange dealt with the trifecta of motoring disasters: devastating failure in their tow vehicle, trailer, and racecar. Just a few of the multitude of issues included ignition-system failure, trailer suspension failure, race car transmission failure, RV engine fire, and probably the most bizarre, some of the RV exterior panels were torn off, leaving us bewildered at how they managed to even rally their spirits and forge on. Needless to say they deserved this award more than anyone, somehow keeping their humor through all of this to persevere and obtain; The Most Heroic Fix (possibly of all time).
Region Specific Award: Team Bangers N Mash
For the region specific trophy we took inspiration from a local legend, the Miracle of the Gulls. After throwing a rod early on Saturday, Team Bangers N Mash and their completely name appropriate Jensen-Healey looked to be out of luck. What were the chances of finding an ultra rare Lotus 907 replacement engine, in Utah, on a Saturday? Answer: bleak. I’m sure plenty of teams would just play the percentages and call it a weekend, but these Mash guys, no way. They made some phone calls and were able to find a local racer with one stashed away in his garage, just a mere 50 yards from the broken down Jensen-Healey. So they did what any smart team would do, bought it, swapped it, and raced all day Sunday.
Judges Choice: 8 Bit-Racing
It’s not often these days you see a car like 8-Bit Racing’s Subaru RX barreling its way around a racetrack. But it is common to see a car blow an engine early in the race, quite like 8-Bit did in just a meager 25 seconds. Thankfully this was not the end for the car that won the World Rally Championship in 1986. To fix the debacle, 8-Bit rounded up a junkyard short block, spend many hours swapping it in, and despite a too-high compression ratio, and an oil system that was completely wrong, it worked! For such a triumph they surely deserved something, thus we placed the Judges’ Choice award rightfully in the hands of 8-Bit Racing.
Possibly one of the easiest awards to give out was our Organizers Choice award. Looking at the box flares, that insane splitter and giant wing, we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Car crew their BMW E21!
Index of Effluency: Grumpy Cat’s 1950 Dodge Pickup
Another easy decision came when we had to decide the winner for the top prize of 24 Hours of LeMons: the Index of Effluency. With the oldest vehicle to ever compete in a LeMons race, Grumpy Cat Racing took their 1950 Dodge pickup with original 216-cubic-inch Chrysler flathead I6 engine and granny gear non-synchomesh transmission for a spin over the weekend in Utah. It had sat dead for decades prior to the race and yet somehow was able to complete a mind boggling 250 laps, which comes to 560 miles of full throttle abuse in a car that wasn’t suppose to survive more than 20 minutes on the track.
Two weeks prior to the race this future racing truck could be found behind a Denver auto repair shop, weeds encompassing the chassis. It was in bad shape to say the least. In addition, upon seeing the state of the Dodge, the owner’s teammates abandoned him, leaving him to get this almost 65 year old vehicle race-worthy in roughly 14 days. Luckily for what was left of Grumpy Cat Racing, this is a community with big hearts. Seeing that most teams know how it feels to try and fix a car up in a short amount of time, the members of Speed Holes Racing and Rocket Surgery Racing were there to save the day (and this 1950 Dodge). They managed to get the pickup running, equipped, capable of turning and stopping, allowing it to astonishingly pass tech inspection the first time through. What’s even more remarkable is that it somehow ran all weekend without a single major mechanical fault; something I know many of you fellow LeMons racers dream about in those nights leading up to race weekend. So what that it burned tons of oil, and that it extremely slow (although the drivers were able to kick it into overdrive and pass a few no-doubt startled competitors). It still got cheers every time the spectators saw it lumber its way into view.
P43 out of 67 entries, drivers from Colorado, Texas, and California all with no black flags, in addition to this unparalleled display of durability gave us the easiest Index of Effluency decision in 24 Hours of LeMons history. Colossal congratulations to Grumpy Cat Racing!