Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crapcanalysis, Part 3: The Chumptastic Truth

British American Racing's BMW E30 sports a transatlantic livery that we rather enjoy. B.A.R. enjoys tremendous success in ChumpCar with 10 podiums and five wins. This photo also shows three very sexy Alfa Romeos at Road America's famous Canada Corner: the Berlina Taxi (Black/Yellow), the contact-papered GTV6 (partially hidden behind B.A.R.) and the Martini Milano. (Dave Ingraham photo)

ChumpCar World Series began in October 2009 with its first race at Portland International Raceway. Founded by John Condren, ChumpCar has run 92 event weekends since its inaugural race, many of which were Double-7 weekends with two seven-hour races.

Condren's series does away with multiclass racing and essentially pits all cars against each other for the overall win, rendering it a "run-what-you-brung" series that pits all manner of make and model against each other for the most wildly badass trophies in motorsports.

[Editor's Note: We won't delve into the differences between ChumpCar and the 24 Hours of Lemons because that's a deep, argumentative subject and isn't really the point of this exercise. As always, feel free to discuss and argue about it amongst yourselves in the Comments section or on our Facebook page if you so desire.]

That being said, here are the ChumpCar numbers:

Type Wins Teams with Wins Podiums Teams with Podiums
BMW E30 25 15 75 29
Mazda Miata 9 8 36 17
Honda Civic 8 4 26 10
BMW E36 10 3 25 6
Acura Integra 6 6 19 8
Mazda RX-7 5 5 16 11
Nissan 300ZX 3 2 11 7
Saab 9-3 4 2 9 2
Toyota MR2 2 2 9 4
Datsun Z-Cars 1 1 9 5
Ford Mustang 5 3 8 4
Porsche 944 1 1 8 5
Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf 2 2 7 6
Ford Probe 5 1 6 2
Dodge Neon 3 1 6 1
Mercedes Benz 190E 2 1 6 1
Saturn S-Series 1 1 6 2
Ford Escort 0 0 6 3
Datsun Roadster 4 1 5 1
Ford Taurus SHO3 2 5 3
Nissan Sentra SE-R 2 1 5 4
Volkswagen Jetta 1 1 5 4
Mitsubishi 3000GT 2 1 4 1
Nissan 240SX 2 1 4 3
Honda Prelude 0 0 4 4
Geo Metro 3 1 3 1
Mitsubishi Mirage 3 1 3 1
Pontiac Firebird 3 2 3 2
Nissan Altima 1 1 3 1
Honda Accord 0 0 3 2
Volvo 142 0 0 3 1
Acura Legend 1 1 2 1
BMW E28 1 1 2 2
Infiniti J30 1 1 2 1
Chevrolet Malibu 0 0 2 1
Hyundai Tiburon 0 0 2 1
Lexus SC400 0 0 2 1
Mazda Protege 0 0 2 1
Porsche 914 0 0 2 1
Saab 9000 1 1 1 1
Mercury Cougar 1 1 1 1
Toyota Corolla 1 1 1 1
Alfa Romeo 164 0 0 1 1
BMW E34 0 0 1 1
BMW 2002 0 0 1 1
Dodge Stealth 0 0 1 1
Honda CRX 0 0 1 1
Mazda 626 0 0 1 1
Nissan 200SX 0 0 1 1
Nissan NX2000 0 0 1 1
Plymouth Laser 0 0 1 1
Saab 900 0 0 1 1
Subaru Impreza 0 0 1 1
Toyota Celica 0 0 1 1
Chevrolet Camaro 0 0 1 1

There's a bit more to sift through here since there are no class winners in CCWS.

- Obviously, BMW 3-Series dominate the series. The E30- and E36-generation cars combine for an even 100 podiums, claimed by 35 different teams. Again, there are some outliers here; the E36's success is bolstered by the Tubby Butterman Racing car, which has six wins and 10 podiums alone. British American Racing's recent podium at Road Atlanta gave them 10--five of which were wins, including the series' only National Chumpionship in 2011--with their E30. Outliers aside, 35 different BMWs finding success is nothing to scoff at; the E30 is the real deal is you're dead-set on winning.

Mitsubishi has been an odd duck in crapcan racing. Only two teams have ever won races for the make. Team Jacky Ickx's "GT30"--a Mitsubishi 3000GT that sports a pretty convincing GT40 appearance--has won twice and finished on the podium four times. (ChumpCar Team Jacky Ickx photo)

- Looking for some outliers? The BoomPowSurprise Ford Probe has all five victories for the type. You can see one team showing all the success for a make/model several more times: Mopar 4 Life's Dodge Neon, Blitzen Benz's Mercedes 190E, Formula Roadster's Datsun Roadster, Jacky Ickx GT30's Mitsubishi 3000GT, Geo MetroGnome's CBR-powered Geo Metro, Mid-Drive Crisis' Mitsubishi Mirage and General Leif's Volvo 142, which is the only Volvo to ever finish on a ChumpCar podium.

- The Honda Civic shows strong finishes in ChumpCar, though some of those finishes (3 wins, 10 podiums for Mealtime Racing and 2 wins, 5 podiums for Johnda Deere) could be considered outliers from Canadian races. That's not to say the Civic isn't a good platform; the bantamweight Hondas are as easy on the wallet as any kind of racing can be and they get around circuits quick enough to compete for overall wins; Team Balls Deep's Civic won the most recent Chump race at Road Atlanta, topping one of the deepest fields we've ever seen.

- Miatas--which actually have not done terribly well in LeMons--fare pretty well in ChumpCar, especially in Texas. I'm not sure where the difference lies, but the number of teams that have done well with it (8 different teams have won with the type) indicate that Miatas are around to stay in ChumpCar and will be competitive.

- We're going to lump two completely different imports together here: the RX-7 and Integra. The large number of teams who have had success with either indicate that both cars can be extremely competitive in a variety of circmumstances. Both cars are light and have potential to be quick. The RX-7's front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup allows it to be more nimble and balanced, but it also suffers from two major drawbacks: (1) Its Wankel rotary engine is less fuel-efficient than the Integra's piston-engined B18 and (2) the RX-7 requires an extensive exhaust system. Without it, everyone within at the track will be treated to something akin to the sound of 3 million furious bees in a concrete-floored gas station restroom, mic'd up and run through a wall of 100-watt vintage Marshal Plexis cranked to 11. Integras are slightly less loud. If we had to recommend a (non-E30) car for a new ChumpCar team, it would probably be the Integra: light, efficient, corners well and should have enough power to put down E30-esque laptimes. Front-wheel drive should give an advantage in adverse conditions, too.

- We probably could lump the Nissan300ZX and Datsun Z-cars together. If we did, you'd notice the numbers are strikingly similar to those of RX-7. This comes despite a nasty reputation for the Z-cars to crumble under the stress of endurance racing's torture rest.

- The information we have on the Saabs is interesting and possibly inaccurate;'s whip was listed as a Saab 9-3 on the sheet we got, but they may have won a race or two with their battered old Saab 900 and/or a 9-5. We couldn't find that information readily so we put all of rbankracing's wins under the Saab 9-3 listing. Regardless of how you divvy it up, Robin Bank knows how to make those Swedish cans rattle around with the best of them, having won a half dozen races between ChumpCar, LeMons and the one-off Used Car Series at Nelson Ledges (...although that was with an Eagle Talon). Two other teams have won with a Saab: Team Cougar Bait won at Iowa in 2010 with their 9-3 and Team Marvin Martian took a win at Pikes Peak in a Saab 900. If you're dedicated to running Swedish metal in ChumpCar, the numbers suggest you're probably better off in a Saab than a Volvo.

Volkswagen Golfs and Rabbits don't get much respect in the crapcan world, but Martini Racers' Golf won the 24-hour race at Spokane County Raceway in 2012 while the Team Titleists Golf took third at the same event. (Martini Racers photo)

- Pony cars have fared much better in ChumpCar than in LeMons. Mustangs--especially the Looney Tunes' Mustang in Texas--have racked up four overall victories. The Pontiac Firebird has three wins, including two by the TSR Trans Am, one wicked-fast mullet-mobile that swept a Double 7 weekend at Portland.

- Some odd ducks have found their way onto the podium in ChumpCar: a Hyundai Tiburon, a Malaise-Era Malibu and a Nissan Altima. We love it. Our favorite podium of the series came in the 2012 Eastern Region Chumpionship at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where luxury cars dominated. The top three finishers were an Acura Legend, an Infiniti J30 and a Mercedes 190E, respectively.

These numbers insinuate that ChumpCar is just about winning, but we'd be misleading our dear readers if we let you think that. Crapcan racing is much more about the journey than it is about the result. Many teams compete without thought of winning (though certainly intending to do their best) because the joy, heartbreak and redemption of building, running, fixing and then limping home a hopeless race car is a challenge worth tackling.

And we'll be damned if they aren't right.

Check back later this week for one final part!

Read Part 1 HERE.
Read Part 2 HERE.
Read Part 4 HERE.

1 comment:

  1. It should be noted that in the central region, one so-called RX7 is actually a 302X7 (Malice in Blunderland) and another is actually a SHOX7 (They Ain't Right, who later moved on to an MR2). In each case, they kept the "light and nimble" and dispensed with the "gulps gas and is finicky about exhaust". That accounts for at least one win each, and possibly a podium as well.