|Two of the craziest builds--the Geo Metro Gnome and the Model T GT--dice at Thunderhill in December 2011 at the 24 Hours of LeMons race. Both cars have run in the 24 Hours of LeMons and ChumpCar World Series. The Metro Gnome has won races in both series. (Murilee Martin photo)|
So here it is, the combined data from the ChumpCar World Series and the 24 Hours of LeMons. This is, in all likelihood, the least useful of the data because of the ways in which the series' rules have drifted apart. Each series exhibits its own spin on crapcan racing with different objectives and means of achieving them.
To illustrate this difference, we've separated each model's overall successes by series. As such, one can see that some types--like the BMW E36--do well in ChumpCar but haven't yet been successful in LeMons while the opposite is true of other types, namely the BMW E28.
However, it's worth noting that many teams run entries successfully in both series. The Geo Metro Gnome has racked up five wins in total; two were LeMons' victories and three came in ChumpCar. Many other teams have found similar success competing in both series so we think this table contains at least a few shreds of useful data.
What you'll see in most instances is a pretty strong correlation between success in one series and success in the other.
|Type||LeMons Wins||Chump Wins||Overall Wins||Winning Teams|
|Ford Taurus SHO||3||3||6||4|
|Nissan Sentra SE-R||1||2||3||1|
|Alfa Romeo GTV6||2||0||2||2|
|Mercedes Benz 190E||0||2||2||1|
|Mercedes Benz S500||2||0||2||1|
|Alfa Romeo Milano||1||0||1||1|
|Ford Model T||1||0||1||1|
|Mercedes Benz 300E||1||0||1||1|
As usual, here's how we see it:
- BMW 3-Series' domination is obvious here. If you add the E30 and E36 chassis together, they have three times as many victories as any other type. Rob Leone of Schumacher Taxi Service once called the E30 the "easy button" with regard to crapcan racing. While they can be a handful to keep on the track, E30s and E36s clearly have the reliability, pace and efficiency to perform well in low-buck endurance racing.
- Again, we see Mazda putting up a lot of victories with the Miata and RX-7. This has been described in Parts 2 and 3 of this series and it's hardly surprising.
- As we've also previously stated, Honda motors gained a bad rap in LeMons, but Civics and Integras have done very well in ChumpCar. They remain the most successful front-drive options in crapcan racing, although the Neon is a good alternative if a team wants to run American metal.
|The Skid Marks Racing's Dodge Neon puts down reasonably quick laps, but the teams wins races through good preparation, patience and efficiency. (The Rusty Hub photo)|
- Ford is probably the best overall American make in the crapcan world. The SHO-trim Taurus, despite its fragility, has won six times, which puts them on equal footing with the usually-equally-breakable Mustang. One could throw the Probe into this discussion, but its success is not exactly the same because it's (A) a one-team outlier and (B) based on the Mazda MX-6.
- We love when cars never designed for motorsports win races. In this list, our favorites to see are the Mercedes S500, Acura Legend, Infiniti J30, Saturn S-Series and Nissan Altima.
- A four-cylinder Volvo is long overdue for a victory. The only Volvo win came on the back of the V8-swapped V8olvo built by Evil Genius Racing and driven by a number of ace club racers. The Keystone Kops' 240 has probably run as many races as any other car, has led several times and is long overdue for a victory.
- Toyota has found some success, but no model has been dominant. If pressed to pick a model, we'd say either a Corolla or a first-generation MR2 is as good a bet as any. Or you could hedge your bets and run half of each.
|Type||LeMons Podiums||Chump Podiums||Overall Podiums||Teams with Podiums|
|Ford Taurus SHO||7||5||12||4|
|Nissan Sentra SE-R||3||5||8||5|
|Alfa Romeo Milano||6||0||6||3|
|Mercedes Benz 190E||0||6||6||1|
|Chevrolet Monte Carlo||3||0||3||2|
|Alfa Romeo GTV6||2||0||2||2|
|Mercedes Benz S500||2||0||2||2|
|Ford Model T||2||0||2||1|
|Mercedes Benz 300E||2||0||2||1|
|Alfa Romeo 164||0||1||1||1|
|Alfa Romeo Alfetta||1||0||1||1|
|Alfa Romeo Berlina||1||0||1||1|
|Pontiac Grand Prix||1||0||1||1|
Most of what we'd want to say about the podiums we've already said in the "Wins" discussion. However, we did notice a couple of interesting points:
- Several types include many podium finishes with a disproportionately small number of wins. The 300ZX, for example, has a respectable six wins but has 17 podium finishes. Similarly, the Golf/Rabbit made the podium 12 times but only won three times.
- Maybe a bit more heartbreaking than the 300ZX and Rabbit is the Saturn S-Series, which has managed just one win despite 10 podium finishes. We consider the Saturn a great underdog because it (A) has practically no aftermarket, (B) has "enthusiasts" who are, frankly, a little nuts and (C) is a General Motors product. But the plastic-clad, 'merican-built S-Series will someday get it right. We felt terrible for The Moonrunners, who were comfortably leading the LeMons race we judged at Autobahn Country Club in October 2012 before some car-to-car contact broke a hoodpin and began this chain of events:
Broken hoodpin leads to unattached hood leads to broken windshield leads to not winning anymore leads to I Got Screwed award
|The Moonrunners replace their windshield, which had been smashed when the car's hood pin stud broke, with a slab of Lexan at Autobahn in October 2012. They had been leading the race before the incident. (The Rusty Hub photo)|
- As has been illustrated by the esteemed Murilee Martin, every Internet Car Guy knows that the Porsche 924/944 is (A) impossible to find for $500 but (B) if you could find one for $500, it would dominate every crapcan race. Of course, the reality is that a crapcan-budget 944 probably has some serious issues. And most 944 issues involve at least 30 man-hours of labor to repair. From what we can tell, the 944 is basically a layer-cake of frustration ready to coat you in a virtual German crap-frosting. So it should be no surprise that the 944 has only managed a single win; yet many will be surprised that it's found the podium 11 times.
- We're still waiting for an Audi winner. We've had wins for all the other major German makes, but Audi has yet to make it happen. Challenge issued, Rally Baby Racing.
- Curiously, Alfa Romeos have not found much success in ChumpCar. We're not exactly sure why, but we hope to see that change.
We hope no one considers this the be-all, end-all statistical analysis of crapcan racing. It's merely meant to describe which types have potential to win low-buck endurance races.
Bringing a BMW 3-Series does not guarantee you a win, nor does bringing a 944 guarantee you heartbreak. Winning races mostly depends on the following criteria (in order, based on what we've observed):
(1) Car preparation (mechanical and so forth)
(2) Drivers and Driving ability
(3) Logistical preparation (Fuel stops, driver changes, communications)
(4) Car type
Many cars are built and prepared by amateurs in their garage who have no expertise. In all likelihood, they will struggle and be lucky to finish mid-pack at their first race. But give them a few races to work out the bugs and you may see them field a car that will mop the floor with professionally built club racers.
In a similar vein, many competitors first drive on a race track during their first LeMons or Chump stint. After spending a few hours finding their race legs in the first couple races, it's common to see crapcan racers post competitive lap times while churning out clean laps in heavy traffic.
Car type can be prohibitive; we're unlikely to ever see a Chrysler K-Car ever take a win on laps (PLEASE SOMEONE PROVE US WRONG), but 48 different car types have won races in both series and we know there are at least another couple dozen that could do it.
In the end, crapcan racing demonstrates a tremendous potential to scale the steep learning curve of racing. This is grassroots racing at its most raw and pure form. If you're part of it, enjoy every second. If you're not, we're not sure what you're waiting for.
Thanks for reading our pointless analysis. Look for more posts in the coming weeks.
Read Part 1 HERE.
Read Part 2 HERE.
Read Part 3 HERE.