Friday, June 29, 2012


Last week, I gave you false hope by saying the Weekly Question would have a new format. Well, I lied about that. The truth is, it's difficult to generate polls that are relevant and regularly scheduled so we're doing away with the Weekly Question altogether.

Fret not; we'll still be posting weekly interviews and Movie Monday, as well as the periodic Craigslist Literary Find, Theme and Car suggestions, and lowlights from the world of professional racing.

Be sure to Like our Facebook page (HERE) and follow us on Twitter (HERE), where we post additional content and link to great content about crapcan (and sometimes other forms of) racing. We may even throw up an impromptu poll on Facebook from time to time.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Q&A with Bill Strong of ModSquad Racing

ModSquad Racing's first, longest-lasting and most reliable car--the ModSquad 1--is a Toyota MR2 Mk. II that has taken the team as high as fifth place in the 24 Hours of LeMons and ChumpCar World Series. (Racing Strong Motorsports photo)
Like the Porsche 944, many crapcan aficionados view the Toyota MR2 as an impending disaster masked as the perfect endurance racer. Sure, it's light, mid-engined, and powered by an efficient four-cylinder engine that has proven durable on street cars. The chassis even takes fairly kindly to engine swaps, be they docile, modern V6s or relics never designed for automotive use (as we discovered with last week's interview). Hell, you can even graft the back half of one onto the front of a Corolla to make a twin-engined monster. Yet, they sometimes overheat, liberate engine innards, and break other obscure parts,

But if there's ever a team equipped to campaign the MR2 successfully, it's ModSquad Racing, one of the stalwarts of 24 Hours of LeMons' and ChumpCar World Series' races on the East Coast. Forged as a crapcan racing team between good friends Bill Strong and David Hawkins--both forum moderators on Strong's MR2 Owner's Club website team has finished near the top of the field in the majority of 15 crapcan race weekends, including a fifth-place result at LeMons' 2010 Capitol Offense race at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. They also claimed ninth and 12th place finishes at ChumpCar's two-race weekend at Florida's Sebring International Raceway in 2010.

Strong (owner of Racing Strong Motorsports) and Hawkins (proprietor of Hawkley, Inc. and, an MR2-specific parts supplier) are joined by a revolving cast of experienced MR2 drivers, giving them a leg up because the drivers are not only extremely familiar with how to drive the MR2 but also familiar with the beast's mechanical innards and how to tame them. Among the ModSquad's recurring cast are permanent driver/crew chief Derek Sanders and regular drivers Kevin Tulay, Tommy Guttmann, Rick Fon, Peter Doane, Stephen Mason, James Cole-Henry, Jake Fisher, and Kelly Evens. They have also at times employed local (to Strong anyway; the team are from all over the eastern part of the U.S. and Canada) MR2 campaigner Troy Truglio, who normally runs the Biohazard V6-powered MR2.

The team have flogged several MR2s, three of which are powered by the durable Toyota 5S-FE four-cylinder engine and one that is swapped in a 1MZ-FE V6 from a Toyota Camry to make a sister car to Truglio's Biohazard whip.

Bill Strong took an hour to chat enthusiastically with The Rusty Hub about ModSquad Racing, those danged middle-engined 'yotas, and ModSquad's recent exploits at the 2012 Capitol Offense LeMons race at Summit Point.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weekend at a Glance: June 29 to July 1

Arse Sweat-A-Palooza
Buttonwillow Raceway Park (Buttonwillow, CA) - 24 Hours of LeMons

LeMons will hold their second 24-hour race of the season in the California desert at Buttonwillow this weekend. The early weather forecasts predict temperatures in the mid-90s, so the event should live up to its name.

The race begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and ends at the same time Sunday. The drivers' meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Movie Monday: The Ghost of LeMons Past

Today, we go far back into the past (five years) to the age when the 24 Hours of LeMons was typically a free-for-all, body damage was part of the prize for finishing (or not finishing), and the tracks were not for the faint of heart.

This is in-car footage from the infamous Blue Goose Honda CRX at the claustrophobic and inisidious Altamont Raceway infield course at the 2007 race there. The claustrophobic nature of it stems from the fact that 80 cars were shoved onto it, but that's what makes this video so entertaining to watch. There's simply no such thing as a having one car in a corner, let alone getting a clear lap.

The action starts furiously and within two laps, the Blue Goose's front bumper is dragging and making a horrible racket (and probably an impressive sparkler display), thereby making this video difficult to watch with the volume turned up even remotely loud. By lap four, cars are taking turns four-wide, several have spun, and the Goose takes a mighty wallop on its side. Somehow, the car kept on turning laps at this race, as YouTube uploader "jeffersonraley" writes in the description:

"The car is a 1985 Honda CRX with about 70 horsepower at the start of the race, and probably half that by the end! We knocked a hole in the oil pan, scoured the cylinder walls with desert dust, and almost flipped twice! We also lost both bumpers multiple times and ran 75% of the race with our front radiator as the bumper.

We ran the entire race and ended up 8th."

The Blue Goose CRX was once described by Murilee Martin/Judge Phil Greden as "one of the most terrible LeMons cars of all time." This is not a charge to be taken lightly, mind you, but the CRX has changed hands many times and typically had the same terrible results.

Friday, June 22, 2012

WEEKLY QUESTION: What have you done for me lately?

Last week, we asked you which series you prefer to run with, but that's inconsequential*.

What really matters is that today is my birthday. And while I'm generally not big on birthday gifts, I wonder not if any of have you gotten me anything but rather what you've gotten for me.

So answer the question at the top right-hand column. Or whatever.

Frankly, this is the last Weekly Question in this format. Look for a new, open-ended format to come out next week when I have my wits about me and have had a chance to think of a worthy question.

* The answers, if it matters, were 50 percent for the 24 Hours of LeMons, 25 percent for the ChumpCar World Series, and 25 percent who really don't care as long as they get to race.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Q&A with Marc Labranche, pioneer of airplane-engined race cars

Marc Labranche's radial-engined Toyota MR2 has run a grand total of 21 laps in two races at the 24 Hours of LeMons and earned two trophies along the way. The Kinner engine was originally designed to power the Ryan PT-22, a lightweight primary trainer aircraft in World War Two. (The Rusty Hub photo)

It is very hard for us to explain Marc Labranche's engineering exploits in brief. It really is. We find it inadequate to say "He put a World War Two-era radial engine in a race car" because that only tells the part of his story about his wild idea.

The interesting part is the part about his incredible execution of the idea, where he painstakingly undergoes an exhaustive process of design, trial-and-error, redesign, re-trial-and-error, and eventual triumph.

That part of the story takes much longer to tell. In fact, it takes about 1,400 posts and 56 pages on the 24 Hours of LeMons forum topic to tell just part of the story. We highly recommend you read through that forum topic either before or after you read this, because it's captivating and truly innovative stuff. This video Labranche made to demonstrate the drivetrain's second version speaks volumes about his skill and innovation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crapcan Weekend at a Glance: June 22-24

The Rust 'n Dust Grand Prix
High Plains Raceway (Deer Trail, CO) - ChumpCar World Series

ChumpCar will be running a standard Double-7 enduro weekend at High Plains June 23 and June 24. Each race will run the same schedule with the start at 9 a.m. and the checkered flag at 4 p.m. with a drivers' meeting each day at 8:15 a.m.

Registration, tech inspection, and safety equipment inspection will run the standard Friday schedule from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Novice school takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

High Plains will hold an open Lapping Day on Friday, June 22. For more information on this, see the supplemental rules linked below or click here. The Lapping Day registration form can be found here.

Onboard video

As ChumpCar is running its first event at High Plains, I will unfortunately have to use footage shot during a race from the competing 24 Hours of LeMons race there in 2011. This is onboard with the Colorado Cone Killers' E28.

"The Rust 'n Dust Grand Prix" supplemental rules

High Plains Raceway official site

Trackpedia entry for High Plains Raceway

The Best Damn Racer from Calabogie to Kaladar Trophy Dash
Calabogie Motorsports Park (Calabogie, Ontario) - ChumpCar World Series

The ChumpCar race at Calabogie will also be a Double-7 on the same days and with the same 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. race schedule. Unlike the race(s) at High Plains, the drivers' meetings will be held at 8 a.m.

Gates open for the weekend at noon. Registration and driver's gear inspection is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with technical inspection from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Novice school begins at 6 p.m.

Onboard video

As with High Plains above, this is ChumpCar's first trip to Calabogie and it's also the first crapcan race at the track. So here's a trackday video of user "GTwagon" flogging a Subaru Forester XT around the track.

"The Best Damn Racer..." supplemental rules

Calabogie Motorsports Park official site

Trackpedia entry for Calabogie Motorsports Park

Monday, June 18, 2012

Movie Monday: It slices and it dices!

One of the best parts of the varying car speeds and driver skill levels present in crapcan racing is that most drivers have someone else in the field with whom they are a good match. One cannot say, however, that it's a given that you and your nemesis are on track at the same time. But the video after the jumps shows what can happen when you do find that nemesis.

Friday, June 15, 2012

WEEKLY QUESTION: Either/or/both

This is the 2012 Lola B12/80 LMP2 chassis run by a handful of teams that are just as likely to lose the 24 Hours of Le Mans as you are. Like the 24 Hours of LeMons and ChumpCar World Series, LMP2 is a cost-capped class. But none of this matters because you don't come here for information about sports car racing.

We asked our readers last week about this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans and which team would win the LMP2 class. And, as it turns out, very few people who read this blog care about the real Le Mans or at the very least don't come here to discuss professional racing. And who can blame them?

We only received six votes for this poll: two for Oak Racing, one for Lotus, one for Greaves Motorsports, one for Level 5, and one for Starworks (the last two being the two American entries into LMP2).

In any event, no experts have really been able to say definitively who will even be on the LMP2 podium because it's so wide open. You're as likely to pick winners if you draw team names out of a hat.


Well, we learned our lesson by overstepping our coverage area and asking about professional racing, so we'll get back to crapcan racing now. We want to know about your crapcan series preference. Some people, it seems, are particular to either the 24 Hours of LeMons or the ChumpCar World Series. Others are omnivorous with their crapcanning.

Which crapcan series do you prefer?

See the answers over to the right and let us know if you dwell in one camp or if you don't really care who's putting on the race so long as you can drive your hooptie around.

Check our Facebook page periodically this weekend (and Like us while you're there) for updates on the LeMons race at Summit Point and the ChumpCar race at Buttonwillow. Have a great Father's Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Craiglist Literary Find: get burned

Today, we travel to majestic New Mexico to look at a clapped-out 1971 Buick Skylark:

1971 skylark parts buick 350 4 barrel - $800 (Ruidoso NM)

for sale is a good parts car if you are restoring a chevelle skylark gto or ?? it has the 350 buick motor with the distributor in the front (not small block chevy) the motor is factory 4 barrel carb, factory ac it seems to run good and the trans pulls the car had a fire in the cab from a kid playing with matches. it still has many good parts on it some of the goodies have been removed as i was planning to make it a dirt track race car. it is in Ruidoso call 575 three seven eight XXXX


I AM ASKING 800.00 CASH OR TRADE for the whole car. NO SCAMMERS

All-in all, this seems a pretty pedestrian Craigslist ad. The poster wrote it in a typical mix of all lower case with no punctuation and ALL CAPS FOR THE PARTS THAT HE OR SHE WANTS TO EMPHASIZE. One might find the incidental lower-case of "for the whole car" interesting, but it's clear that this seller creates many classified ads and includes that all-caps part in all of them but edited the bit about "for the whole car."

The best part, well, the seller buried it in the middle of this ad where he or she lists the features of the car. Can you spot it?

Let's see...350 Buick motor, four-barrel carburetor, factory air-conditioning...sounds good so far...the trans pulls...OK, I'm not really sure what that means, but that's nothing new on Craigslist..."the car had a fire in the cab from a kid playing with matches." Ah, there it is.

The ad is oddly specific about the fire. Whereas most sellers would simply say "interior fire but mechanicals OK" or something along those lines, this Craigslister has assigned the blame but has cleverly left out any information about the kid. And that's a shame because we'd like to know more about the fire. Whose kid was it? Was it pesky neighborhood kids getting retribution because the seller (or previous owner) had taken their baseball? Is the seller's child Ralph Wiggum?

Simply put, we love it when Craigslist ads create more questions than they answer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crapcan Weekend at a Glance: June 15-17

ChumpCar's Pre-Father's Day Celebration Race (CPFDCR)
Buttonwillow Raceway (Buttonwillow, CA) - ChumpCar World Series

ChumpCar will host a one-day, 14-hour race June 16 at Buttonwillow Raceway. The race begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. The racek will use track configuration #1 on the Buttonwillow site; click here for the track map.

The CPFDCR will follow the typical pre-race day schedule on Friday, June 15, with registration, technical inspection, and safety gear inspection from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Novice school will take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and ChumpCar will host a barbecue after 7 p.m.

Buttonwillow will hold an open Test Day Friday with options for either a full day or half day of testing. A full day will cost $125 per driver plus $75 per car; a half day is $60 per driver and $50 per car. The half day testing starts at 1 p.m.

As another event is scheduled at Buttonwillow for June 17, participants are required to vacate the track by 7:00 a.m. Sunday. (All times listed are PST.)

Onboard video

Our onboard ridealong this week comes from last year's ChumpCar race at Buttonwillow. Watch Colin Craft pilot the Sex Pistons' Triumph Spitfire around the course, which is configured the same way that this year's race will be. You can also watch an instructional video on its configuration here.

Official CPFDCR Supplemental Rules (PDF)

Buttonwillow Raceway official website

Trackpedia page for Buttonwillow Raceway

MotoIQ's "The Buttonwillow Bible," a walkthrough for a similar (though not identical) configuration

Capitol Offense
Summit Point Motorsports Park (Summit Point, WV) - 24 Hours of LeMons

The 24 Hours of LeMons returns to Summit Point for the third annual Capitol Offense this weekend with another two-session race. The session times for the race are:

Saturday, June 16: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 17: 12:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The shorter Sunday hours are due to the mandatory quiet hour from 11 a.m. to noon.

The gates open for the weekend Friday, June 15, at 7 a.m. Tech inspection begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

The course run is a modified version of the track's Shenandoah Circuit; a track map showing the changes with red dashes can be found here, courtesy of Doug Kirchberg from the Gang of Outlaws.

Summit Point will hold a Test Day on Friday, June 15. First run group begins at 9 a.m. and the cost is $225 per car.

Coinciding with the LeMons race will be HyperFest, which is being held at Summit Point as well this weekend. Spectator entry to the LeMons race also give access to HyperFest being held on the Summit Point and Jefferson circuits. For more information on HyperFest, click here. (All times listed are EST)

Onboard Video

Our onboard preview for Capitol Offense comes from previous Rusty Hub interviewees Schumacher Taxi Service and their CoROLLa. The video gives a good set of telemetry data and the course map, as well as a demonstration of what you should do when your brakes fail at one of the most challenging parts of the course.

"Capitol Offense" event page on the 24 Hours of LeMons website

Official Summit Point website

Summit Point on Trackpedia

Capitol Offense 2011 official photo gallery

Capitol Offense 2010 official photo gallery

Some other race in France

All we know about it is that some people are excited about some new phallic-shaped Nissan.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Showroom-Schlock Shootout: Our Rusty photos

James Shabnow (l) and Tommy Phillips swap engines in the #108 Point-O-Eight Ford Escort GT Saturday morning before the green flag. The team would later win the I Got Screwed award.

We took 788 photos this past weekend at the 24 Hours of LeMons' Showroom-Schlock Shootout at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet. You can see them on Flickr here.

We've haphazardly sorted them by:

- car number when only one car is pictured or entirely visible. This was done in reverse numerical order.
- topic, such as actual nice cars or judging. This is done by arbitrary numbers that mean nothing, much like this blog itself.

If you want high-resolution versions for your blog, Facebook page, or just to show your friends how irrational you are, send an email to Just don't use them to

Also, we apologize if there are an abundance (98, in fact) of photos of the radial-engined MR2, but we are thoroughly fascinated by this marvel. Actually, apology retracted. This thing is awesome:

Five exhaust pipes on the subject, five in the background. This car is a good match for Joliet.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Movie Monday: It's a bird? It's a plane? It's an MR2.

"My God, it's full of Win."

Movie Monday takes us back a full day to this past weekend's 24 Hours of LeMons race at Autobahn Country Club. We give you three videos of the most painstaking and creatively engineered build in crapcan history after the jump.

Friday, June 8, 2012

WEEKLY QUESTION: Those other endurance racers

We asked last week what kind of oil you put in your crapcan and the results are pretty definitive. Sixty-seven percent of you said you use synthetic oil and the remaining 33 percent said high-weight stuff help keeps the engine parts in their approximately correct places. But, as commenter Greg pointed out, this is probably a trick question since the likely assumption to make is that heavy synthetics are the ideal stuff.

It should be noted that two other, polar-opposite comments were added: Alan said that the "blood of infant dinosaurs" keeps his motor turning while Bob simply replied with "Love." So there you have it: Maniacal fervor or unfading devotion will keep your engine turning over if you believe what you read on the Internet.


This week, we'll have you take a peek at the Big Endurance Race in that country whose name ruined toast, fries, and Buick Rivieras. That's right, we want your predictions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will take place next weekend in France.

But there's a catch: We don't want to know who will win the thing overall, since that seems very likely to come down to which of the four Audi R18s will take the checkered flag. The real race is shaping up to come from the LMP2 class, where more than a 20 entries from 16 teams will vie for the win in the slightly-slower prototype class. And within that class are six different chassis types and four different powerplants. So we ask the probably historically insignificant question:

Who will the LMP2 class at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans?

At the top of the right-hand column, all 16 teams will be listed along with chassis/engine combination and a note if the team is running two entries. And if you don't know much about sportscar racing, here is the beauty part: These cars are all pretty much even, so you have about the same odds if you guess as you do if pretend to know what you're talking about.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Q&A with Brian Moody from Floridiot Motorsports

The Floridiot Motorsports Porsche 944 pulls into the hot pits on the way to a 20th place finish at the 14-hour ChumpCar World Series race at Sebring International Raceway  in 2011. (Floridiot Motorsports photo)

The crapcan world has a way of flipping road-car convention on its head. Maybe endurance racing is unforeseen torture test for most makes and models, but seemingly bulletproof drivetrains like the Honda D-series engines or the Toyota 4A discover new and innovative ways to fail at every single race. In this same vein, the 1980s sports car ubermensch Porsche 944 has earned a reputation for spending more time on jackstands than on the track.

However, the Floridiot Motorsports 944 crew has found a sweet spot with the car and run five races on the same drivetrain, never finishing lower than 20th place in any of them. Their success has been no stroke of luck, though; the six-man team of Jason Hickman, Greg Laster, Brian Moody, Santiago Ruiz, Chad Doering (Crew Chief), and Frank Suarez (Head Mechanic) put in countless hours of preparation to keep the 944 demons at bay. If they can just figure out the driving part of it, they'll be a pretty good bet to take home the first Porsche victory in crapcan racing.

The Floridiots have essentially remained the same team since its inception, but the car's current livery pays tribute to two team members who recently passed away: Bernie Hickman (Jason's father, in whose shop the car was largely assembled) and Khalil Mohmed (a good friend who built Formula SAE cars with several team members at the University of Florida engineering school and who died racing motorcycles in 2010).

The Rusty Hub spoke with Floridiot's Brian Moody just a week after the ChumpCar World Series race at Daytona International Speedway on the day before Memorial Day. After the jump, read his thoughts on 944 reliability, sponsorships, and the Esprit de crapcans.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Crapcan Weekend at a Glance: June 8-10

Showroom-Schlock Shootout
Autobahn Country Club (Joliet, IL) - 24 Hours of LeMons

This is a special race for us because The Rusty Hub will be there Saturday and Sunday posting live updates to our Facebook page and Twitter feed (if our technology cooperates). So come say "Hi" if you see us walking around.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Movie Monday: One for the little guy

Movie Monday demonstrates that it's not what you drive, it's who drives it and how.

This video comes from recent race winners Duct Tape Motorsports (DTM), who took their four-cylinder E30 coupe to a Porsche Club track day at New Jersey Motorsports Park. In case that doesn't hit home, the first thing you'll notice in this video at the 0:25 mark is that we're not in Kansas crapcan racing anymore when a Porsche 911 GT3 eases past the DTM car.

The DTM E30 (not to be confused with the DTM E30) then passes several polite if perhaps shocked Porsche owners out to play with their nice things on a sunny day.

More than anything, this is a credit to the Duct Tape driver, who clearly knows his way around a track and also knows his car's limits. One could argue the Porsche drivers are perhaps a bit reticent to push their supercars--many of which are probably driven daily--the way the DTM driver pushes his crapcan. But that spoils the fun of watching a $500 heap hack its way through a field of what are essentially refined road-going race cars from Stuttgart.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Craigslist Literary Find: Uncle for sale or something

This find comes to us from the northernmost regions of Wisconsin, just a stone's throw from Duluth. Like our first Craigslist Literary Find post, this one reads as some sort of manic poetry:

WEEKLY QUESTION: Varying viscosity edition

This rusted-out Alfa Romeo Berlina, if we remember the story right, came from a field in Texas. A group of Alfa enthusiasts run it in the Midwest, where it has a couple of Top 10 finishes in the 24 Hours of LeMons. (Murilee Martin photo)

We kept last week's question simple by asking where you found your crapcan. The overwhelming majority (84 percent) of you are like us at The Rusty Hub: addicted to classifieds. This is hardly surprising; the non-crapcan minded view Craigslist as the place to unload their junk. And you, the crapcan racer, liberate it and set it free (by throttling it to its last gasps and sometimes beyond).

The remainder of our poll voters found their fail-pile from someone who knew someone who knew someone get the idea. All it takes is an acquaintance or coworker who's heard of a rusting heap in the far corner of their uncle's dog breeder's neighbor's back forty and 16 percent of you showed up with a trailer, cash in hand, and a barely suppressed grin at the deal you'd just gotten.