|Tetanus Racing's Dodge Neon has seen thousands of miles on-track, several different themes, a few Top 10 finishes, and a hell of a lot of fun in its long second life as an endurance racer in the Gulf Region. (Murilee Martin photo)
If the racing gods ever sought a car to prove that outward appearance means very little with regard to on-track success, Houston's Tetanus Racing could present a strong case to the deities with its ceaselessly beaten first-generation Dodge Neon. Having long ago eclipsed a dozen races with its original engine block, the car's lockjaw-laden patina leaves no doubt that looks mean little when talking about long-lasting endurance racers.
While Tetanus has never won a race outright, they've steadily improved from their status as one of many green teams in the Gulf Region to a class-act who have learned through five 24 Hours of LeMons' seasons how to assemble a race. At the May 2012 North Dallas Hooptie race at Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur (TX), Tetanus put both of their entries--the venerable Neon and an as-fickle-as-you-think-it-would-be Porsche 944--into the Top 10 of the 24-hour race while simultaneously helping to propel epic vacationer Mike Kimball to a Class C win in his 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. [Kimball towed the Scrubbing Bubbles-themed Bug from Sacramento to Dallas to Denver for races on consecutive weekends...with a VW Vanagon.]
At the helm of Tetanus Racing are husband-and-wife duo Chris Champion and Mary Harris, the former a dabbler in and fan of motorsports prior to finding LeMons and the latter a medical doctor who fell in love with the spectacle of LeMons while attending the team's first race and also studying for her board certification. Joining them have been a sizable extended family that comprises Tetanus Racing, which may have included (thus far) any or all of the following: Andy Thor-Sout, Shauna Thor-Stout, Dan Knight, Mike Knierien, Chuck Keeton, Joe Smith, Jimmy Richeson, Bryan Fitch, Sam Miller, Anton Lovett, Dave Kirschke, Jim Tomlinson, Steve Osborne, Brian Dawson, Dave Piazza, Juan Gutierrez, Ramon Gutierrez Sr., Ramon Gutierrez Jr, Ali Forman, Bruce Vanderzyde, and Graham Helfrick. The team also occasionally entertain arrive-and-drive participants (such as automotive journalist Jack Baruth) and Champion and Harris make periodic arrive-and-drive vacations of their own.
The Rusty Hub caught up with Champion and Harris--Tetanus Racing's dynamic duo--who had recently returned home after a busy few weeks that included a 24-hour race in Dallas, an arrive-and-drive in Colorado, and an overseas vacation that was, in part, a pilgramage to some quaint little race in France. In the course of the interview, we learned all about marriage and racing, judgment, the 944's pitfalls, and the team's future plans, not to mention a rare glimpse at "Speedycop the Man."