Breaking News: 24 Hours of LeMons chief perpetrator, Jay Lamm, announced that Reno-Fernley Raceway will sadly be closing its doors which means the 24 Hours of LeMons event scheduled for May 8-9, 2010, with the “real” 24 hour race format will be cancelled. The good news for crap car race teams is that the event will be moved to Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California, on the same weekend, however, there will be no nighttime racing so the event will not have the true 24 hour format like Le Mans in France.
This is a huge disappointment for most California LeMons teams who have been waiting to run a “real” 24 race but haven’t had the chance on the left coast. But don’t fret, ChumpCar World Series is running a true 24 hour race format at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in Southern California, January 30-31, 2010. The race begins at noon on Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday. What happens in between with a field of $500 cars, is anyone’s guess.
Entry deadline for the event is January 2, 2010. Go to www.chumpcar.com for more details.
You’ve read about it in all the car magazines and you’ve been to the 24 Hours of LeMons website a hundred times, obsessively pouring over the rules. It’s the endurance road racing series for $500 cars. And you love endurance races. You always watch Le Mans and you have even looked at Bathurst 2019 packages to see if you can go. You’ve commented on numerous forums that “someday, if you can get a team together, you want to do LeMons.” You even went as far as e-mailing the Chief Perpetrator of LeMons, Jay Lamm, and bothered him with some stupid question regarding the current market price of your Mom’s 2001 Camry (he told you to read the rules again, the car isn’t worth $500). Stop blowing bench racing smoke up everybody’s ass. Find a piece of crap car (that runs unlike a piece of crap), make four new friends (one with money, one who can weld, one who can fix motors and one who has a car trailer) and get yourself to the biggest thing happening in the world of motorsports. The 24 Hours of LeMons is absolutely the coolest thing you will ever do in an automobile (excluding, of course, things that happen in the backseats of automobiles).
Historical fiction by Jonny Lieberman, camera obscura images by Nick “Deuce-Deuce” Pon
Howdy! Judge Lieberman here. Well friends, the latest installment of Racing for Dummies came and went in blur of dumped oil, moonshine, poisonous snakes, righteous BBQ and mostly moonshine. Some of y’all might have followed my colleague and fellow LeMons Supreme Court Justice Murilee Martin’s excellent coverage of the race. Or you maybe followed all the action live — including yours truly getting interviewed and providing play by play commentary — on Speed TV these two-guys’ homegrown website. Or maybe you just read a book to your children. But you definitely noticed that there was no Speed:Sport:Life coverage. My wonderful Windows Fista laptop decided that it didn’t like being online in South Cackalacky. So it is only now, two-days after the festivities ended, that I am able to sit down and organize my $500 crapcan racing thoughts. Join me?
It’s sad but true: when I was a kid, Internet access pretty much didn’t exist. I didn’t even start reading USENET until 1990, at which point I was already eighteen years old. In the pre-Web days, if you wanted to know something, you went to the library. If you were lucky, the answer was in a book. If you couldn’t find a book with the answer, you were more or less screwed. For example, my elementary-school library had a copy of “The Car Book 1971” that had all the prices of new cars from 1971, and I memorized the book to the point that I could instantly recall the prices and specs of every new car sold that year. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same book from 1972, which meant that as far as I knew, there were no cars sold in 1972. Or they were all free. Or they were all $1,999. There was simply no way to know.
The arrival of the Information Age has made that kind of knowledge starvation a thing of the past, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is information on amateur and entry-level-professional sedan racing. Those who talk about it on the Internet don’t really know; those who know aren’t telling, for a variety of reasons we’ll discuss below. When I started my racing “career” a few years ago, I had to learn about the costs and difficulties of racing firsthand, at my own considerable expense, and my conversations with other racers have indicated that this state of affairs is nearly universal.
Universal it may be, but it isn’t right. So in this episode of Avoidable Contact, I’m going to give you a brief tour of amateur and entry-level-professional sedan racing. Specifically, we’re going to talk about requirements, costs, and results. I can’t put you in the seat of a real race car — only you can do that for yourself — but I can at least give you a reasonable idea of what’s involved. There are resources, both print and Web, which claim to tell the truth about the costs of racing, but trust me: most of them are either pursuing an agenda or making bizarre assumptions regarding your access to things like frame jigs, TIG welders, and $100 Hayabusa engines. Since most people can’t actually do things like “knock together” an SCCA GT-2 tube chassis, a lot of the advice and information that’s out there might as well be fantasy.
To keep things simple and comparable, most of the costs discussed here will be “rent-a-ride” costs; I will discuss ownership costs in a future column, assuming there’s any interest. We’ll start with the 24 Hours of Lemons and go as far as the Speed World Challenge. So, without further ado, let’s climb to the top of the “Pyramid Of Speed” and see what’s there.
Hiyo! Judge Lieberman here. Our last 24 Hours of LeMons interview was so much fun that we’re giving you another. This time with real LeMons racers. That’s right, time for you to bow before the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys and their red hot Peugeot 505. Why real? Because they’re running a French car in Goin’ For Broken (the Reno Race) while you’re playing fancy pants “real” racer wannabe in your cheatin’ E30 Beemer Miata. Tis true. Some of you may be familiar with the what happened to the Surrender Monkeys when they tried to just show up for at Arse-Freeze-Apalooza. For those too lazy to click links, they hit black ice and flipped their rig over, trashing both the trailer and the tow vehicle. But the bullet proof “Pujo” survived with nothing but nicks and scratches. Behold the power of French Steel and striking Algerian labor. Nothing says “real” LeMons car like a premptive crash! At any rate, team loudmouth Alan agreed to answer some questions. Another Cheese Eater also answered the questions, but we’re too lazy to look up his name. So let’s just call him Guy, non?
Judge Lieberman:Bonjour mon amis! Comment alles vous? Ce va? Bon! Let’s get down to brass tacks — do you think teams without French cars should even be allowed to race in LeMons? Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Alan: Well of course since the French cars need something to beat. But please nothing normal and boring, just like a fancy dress ball teams should strive to show up in something no one else has. After all what’s the fun in being one of the 20 teams with an E30 or a Miata? Find something totally weird like a Tatra or maybe this thing (yes, that’s a real car). Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Other Guy: Of course non-French cars should be allowed. There is such a wide selection of European rolling garbage. Fiat and anything built by British/Leyland come to mind. I would have loved to find an Austin Allegro Equippe as a LeMon. Wouldn’t that have been glorious? They are, unfortunately, kind of hard to find in the States.
Hola! Judge Lieberman here (grunt). Some of these LeMons clowns just don’t get the fact that the 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke. No, instead they take themsleves all seriously thinking they’re real racers by building websites, trying to win and printing t-shirts. Though I oughts point out that Team Unintended Acceleration — the guys that put my beautiful face on a shirt — are absolutely brilliant. Anyhow some dude named Tommy or Travis — Beavis? — or Floyd (who cares?) started bugging Justice Dube and me on Facebook of all places. And just to get my lady off my back (“who the hell are you always yacking with on the computer?”) I agreed to interview TAJracing about their horrendous (but no doubt cheatin’) Ford Escort “GT” crap can of a “race” car. They’ll be competeing at the LeMons South Spring event in just two short weeks.
Judge Lieberman: You guys are from Florida. That has to suck. TAJracing: Yes, we are from FLA and yes, it does suck. From the almost constant heat to the damn Snowbirds and tourists that can’t drive on our roads. These blue hair fogeys drive slow in the hammer lane and drive 15 MPH under a posted speed limit… ON ANY ROAD! But, we have one good thing here in FLA…..SEBRING!