Wednesday, October 17, 2012

American Irony 2012: A recap

[Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, we acted as BS Judge for this 24 Hours of LeMons, earning tens of thousands of Yen in the process.]

The Flying Pigs' Ford Mustang ran cleanly for most of the weekend to finish 24th overall, though an unfortunate incident damaged its snout on Sunday. (The Rusty Hub photo)
The weather for 24 Hours of LeMons events in the Midwest has been fickle over the last years, to say the least. From the Gingerman ice rink in April 2011 to the sticky sweatfest at Autobahn Country Club in June 2012 and all variations in between, crapcanistas in the middle of the country have endured it all.

At this year's third annual October race at Autobahn, teams battled the ever-changing track conditions and variable visibility to last up to 14-1/2 hours on track. The weekend began with a steady downpour that lasted most of the race's Saturday session, although the skies cleared some and the track dried up in the session's last hour. Sunday brought intermittent showers of varying severity, interspersed with enough sunlight to dry the track for a few minutes until the next wave of rain. As a result, the track surface--jammed with 103 entries on the 1.9-mile course--was treacherous at best and most teams were beset by black flags.

Race winners Skid Marks Racing pull their Juggalo Neon to BS Inspection. (The Rusty Hub photo)

If you've read the official Car and Driver blog post, you'll know that Skid Marks Racing became the first team to win two LeMons races at Autobahn with their Dodge Neon. They earned the victory through perseverance and patience; the SMR drivers are as good as anyone in traffic and virtually never put themselves in precarious positions. In a race where that included sharing the track with the Midwest's largest field yet, Skid Marks drove with absolute Zen. If we hadn't seen past in-car footage of them managing traffic, we'd think they sit in the Lotus position with fingers clasped and eyes shut, guiding the car through subtle telekinetic inputs.

The runners up would normally have come as a surprise, but the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers' Volvo 245 has shown surprising poise in treacherous conditions. The schoolbrick ran toward the top of the field for most of the weekend in the rain, but the track drying for parts of Sunday allowed Skid Marks to stretch the lead to four laps by the race's end.

Bucksnort Racing's BMW E30 finished off the podium just a lap behind the Achievers' Volvo. For the second straight race at Autobahn, Bucksnort clocked the fastest lap on the dry track just before Sunday's last rain shower. They were the only team to crack the 1:50 mark, logging a 1:49.624. On a dry track, Bucksnort is hard to fend off, but they suffered a setback on Sunday when they had to repair a damaged splitter.

The Moonrunners' #70 Saturn undergoes field-expedient windshield replacement after contact broke a hood pin, releasing the hood to lash the original windshield. The team fell from second place to finish 47th overall. (The Rusty Hub photo)

One interesting side effect of the rain was that nobody could really pull too far ahead. P4 through P7 all finished on the same lap and P4 through P10 were separated by only four laps. This meant that the final hour saw so many passes for position that I'm not sure who passed who and when it happened. See below for how the Top 10 shook out.

Subliminal Racing, who won the June 2012 race at Autobahn, wrapped up the Midwest Region with a fourth-place finish, giving them 43 points in the region for a 12-point win over Lemonaid Racing, whose two-car team finished well out of the points at American Irony. Lemonaid's 31 points this season kept them in second place by a single point over race winner Skid Marks.

Dos Limons' red Ford Fiesta finally put together the race they should have run several times in the past. This time, they avoided black flags and mechanical issues enough to hang on for the Class B win over class heavyweights The Blue Shells in their Honda Accord. Flogging a 33-year-old econobox into the Top 10 also earned Dos Limons the coveted Index of Effluency.

Interestingly, the Blue Shells were presented with a choice at BS Inspection: They could race in Class A with zero penalty laps or run in Class B with an eight-lap handicap. The team opted to take their chances with the handicap and they still came just two laps short of beating the Fiesta. Like the Achievers' Volvo, the Blue Shells are in their element in poor weather. Had they taken Class A with no laps, however, they would actually have finished 2nd overall, just two laps behind Skid Marks.

Class C was a runaway victory for a first-time entry. The Candy Asses--armed with a team of high-quality drivers--took their bone-stock, squishy-suspension Chevy Cavalier to 26th place overall and beat the class by 19 laps.

If you remove the Candy Asses from the class, things get interesting. Team Skid Steer's Mercury Bobcat finished finished second by running a clean, near-flawless race. The veteran 98ers came in just a single lap behind Skid Steer for third in class.

Nutjob Racing's Honda Civic staircar finished a respectable 59th and looked spectacular on the track while doing so. Here, a scruffy hop-on dismounts after hitching a ride. (The Rusty Hub photo)

A few more notes:

- The Moonrunners, who took home the I Got Screwed trophy, owned the track in the rain. At one point Sunday, the Saturn blew past Skid Marks Racing for first place and was adding to the gap. When the track dried, they lost some of the advantage and ultimately got knocked out of second place in an unfortunate contact incident.

- In a race marked by many black flags, the normally recidivist Hell Kitty Honda Prelude run by a bunch of hacks at Car and Driver avoided the Penalty Box to finish 16th, one spot behind the also penalty-free Anonymous Honda Civic.

- Two truly fantastically awful ideas (and they're really only race cars in theory) populate the bottom of the scoring sheet: Scuderia Craptastica's Heroic Fix-winning Wankel-powered Opel GT was given an Eaton supercharged, just to make it less reliable. The car was truly a money-to-noise machine, turning only 11 ear-splitting laps before dying for good. Yet they didn't finish last.

Fat Guys in Little Coats Racing never really got anywhere with whatever they were fixing on their GM V6-swapped Porsche 924. We hope to see this car again next year, though. (The Rusty Hub photo)

That honor goes to Fat Guys in Little Coats Racing, who didn't manage a single official lap. This team had previously brought a Porsche 944 powered by a turbocharged Ford 2.3L engine from a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Rather than bring that again (since it's naturally broken), they instead brought a 924 with its four-cylinder plucked out and replaced with a General Motors 4.3L V6. However, the team clearly left far too much Porsche in the car: They kept the Porsche transmission and mated the V6 to the rest of the Porsche drivetrain. We're not sure exactly what kind of sick automotive masochists these guys are, because there really cannot be a worse task than unearthing a 924/944 clutch from the deep, dark recesses of the car and then somehow adapting it to mate with a brutish GM motor. We didn't get the whole story, but when we happened by their paddock space early Sunday, the car hadn't turned a lap and it looked like some kind of horrific Porsche murder scene.

Top 10:

1. #56 Skid Marks Racing - 341 Laps (Dodge Neon)
2. #86 Little Lebowski Urban Achievers - 337 Laps (Volvo 245)
3. #25 Bucksnort Racing - 334 Laps (BMW E30)
4. #711 Subliminal Racing - 333 Laps (BMW E30)
5. #48 Free Candy Racing - 333 Laps (Honda Civic)
6. #77 Don't Mess With Lexus - 333 Laps  (Lexus LS400)
7. #61 Clueless Racing - 333 Laps (Honda CRX)
8. #47 If You Can't Duck It, Fuck It - 332 Laps (Porsche 944)
9. #78 Dos Limons - 331 Laps (Ford Fiesta)
10. #11 The Blue Shells - 331 Laps (Honda Accord)

Class B:

1. #78 Dos Limons - 331 Laps (Ford Fiesta)
2. #11 The Blue Shells - 331 Laps (Honda Accord)
3. #32 HardDriveRacing2 - 319 Laps (Honda Civic)

Class C: 

1. #52 Candy Asses - 308 Laps (Chevy Cavalier)
2. #863 Team Skid Steer - 289 Laps (Mercury Bobcat)
3. #15 98ers - 288 Laps (Oldsmobile 98)


  1. I'm pretty sure the national points chase includes team points from both top ten finishes as well as car entry points. There are a lot of teams with 30+ points and a couple with much more.

    1. So it does. Damn. I misread the rules. Time to scrap all of my reporting on it.