Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Crapness: First Round, 3 vs. 14 (March 23)

We soldier on through the first round with some more of the big guns in LeMons and ChumpCar in the 3 vs. 14 seeds.

[EDITOR'S NOTE:  We'll be using Google for the polls from now on. You may notice that you can vote multiple times. DON'T DO THIS. We get a log of all vote and WILL NOT COUNT ANY VOTES WHERE YOU'VE STUFFED THE BALLOT BOXES (even though we live near Chicago).]

Go to the March Crapness tab for the full rundown, up-to-date bracket and schedule.

Read the introduction to March Crapness here.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Tweet about March Crapness using the hashtag #crapness.

[Extra-special thanks to Murilee Martin for assisting with many of the photos. All photos as credited.]

(Baby) Blitzen Benz (3) vs. Geo Metro Gnome (14)

(Baby) Blitzen Benz - Mercedes 190E

Mercedes built an E30-slayer in the 190E in the '80s and Blitzen Benz has used it to hold off the assorted ranks of crapcan racers to become one of the fastest, most consistent teams. (Blitzen Benz  photo)

This 190E is one of the fastest cars in either series, having sped well into the triple digits at ChumpCar's Daytona race in 2012. Blitzen Benz have managed their share of podiums, too, and run what is likely the best-prepared Mercedes in all of crapcan-dom. The team have campaigned under both the Baby Blitzen and Blitzen Benz names, tributes to the land-speed record holder from a century ago. The Blitzens also receive regular race results coverage in The World's Smallest Daily Newspaper.

Resume: ChumpCar: 1 Overall Win, 10 Top Tens; LeMons - 1 Top Ten

Geo Metro Gnome - Geo Metro

Between the its skilled garage build, some entertaining video editing and a number of race wins, the Metro Gnome quickly earned its place as one of the most respected crapcans in both series. (Murilee Martin photo)

Alex Vendler's mad creation is one of the most insanely fast crapcans in existence. The formula is a derivative of Graham Chapman's philosophy (That's the right guy, no?): Take a super-light Geo Metro chassis, add a small-but-powerful Honda CBR motorcycle engine, go like hell. Sounds crazy, but a pile of race wins from both series say it ain't that crazy.

Resume: ChumpCar - 2 Overall Wins, 4 Top Tens; LeMons - 2 Overall Wins, 5 Top Tens

Spank (3) vs. Tubby Butterman Racing (14)

Spank - Austin Mini, Austin America, Mini Moke, Simca 1204, Citroen D-Special, Toyota Prius

Mike Spangler has made a name for himself--Spank, to be exact--by bringing hastily (un)prepared British and French cars en masse to California (and occasionally Texas...and Florida) LeMons races. Along the way, he's picked up his fair share of Indexes of Effluency and left behind a glut of drivers with terrific stories. (Murilee Martin photo)

Mike Spangler (aka Spank) is the crapcan world's biggest glutton for punishment. An avid builder of all things British and French, he somehow manages to keep some of them running long enough to win awards. Also, he drove a crapcan Citroen from San Diego to Palm Beach and raced it there. And he put a Harley V-Twin in a Prius and it didn't fail spectacularly.

Resume: LeMons - 3 Indexes of Effluency, 1 Class C Win, a Heroic Fix or four

Tubby Butterman Racing - BMW E36

Tubby Butterman Racing's BMW E36 hangs near the top of ChumpCar's illustrious ranks, having won six races and only come up with two DNFs in more than 15 races. With six overall wins, they sit only one behind Eyesore Racing for the most crapcan victories. (Alex Bellus photo)

Tubby's E36 is consistent, fast, and reliable in ChumpCar's very competitive Central Region. And it's hard not to find them endearing when team members post gems on the ChumpCar forums like "My last Ford was a 1978 LTD, leaf green with a leaf green vinyl roof with leaf green cloth interior.  It was like the Jolly Green Giant got his car wasn't a car you sold but ghosted into a pond or quarry while thowing [sic] empties at it." We know exactly what Tubby means, strangely, and most crapcan enthusiasts probably do, too. Also, the phrase "Tubby Butterman" makes us laugh every time we say it aloud.

Resume: ChumpCar - 6 Overall Win, 14 Top Tens

MR2 Biohazard (3) vs. Jacky Ickx GT30 (14)

MR2 Biohazard -Toyota MR2

One might think that the V6-swapped MR2 Biohazard fixes all of the well-known problems the MR2 faces in crapcan racing, but it mostly just creates a whole new set of ones while allowing the car to go much, much faster. (Murilee Martin photo)

On paper, the Toyota MR2 is a perfect endurance racer, but under the duress of endurance racing, the type's lightness and handling prowess typically take a back seat to cooling issues and the inevitable 4A-GE head gasket meltdown. MR2 madman Troy Truglio has found at least a partial way around that by swapping a Toyota V6 into his second-generation MR2. Coupled with some fantastic-looking and actually functional homemade aero, the Biohazard MR2 is a shoe-in to set fastest lap...and also to be coming apart at the seams by the race's end. Still, the MR2 has performed well, particularly at Road Atlanta, with a win and a very close runner-up finish in the last year.

Resume: ChumpCar - 1 Overall Win, 8 Top Tens

Jacky Ickx GT30 - Mitsubishi 3000GT

Sure, the Gulf livery has been done a few hundred times, but the Jacky Ickx Mitsubishi 3000GT bears a frightening and unlikely resemblance to the same-liveried Ford GT40. Even more frightening: This Mitsubishi has overcome the make's awful reputation to win twice and finish at the sharp end of some deep fields. (Murilee Martin photo)

Mitsubishis are rare birds in crapcan racing, but the Jackie Ickx 3000GT has won twice and nabbed two more podiums. Unfortunately, the Gulf-painted GT40-lookalike took a major knock at the May 2012 ChumpCar race at Daytona and the team has had to build and sort a new entry. Nevertheless, they've enjoyed far more success than the typical Mitsubishi crapcan team, who typically need to bring spare jackstands just to keep their hopes up.

Resume: ChumpCar - 2 Overall Wins, 8 Top Tens; LeMons - 2 Top Tens

Schumacher Taxi Service (3) vs. Ferdinandwertschätzungsgesellschaft (14)

Schumacher Taxi Service -Toyota CoROLLa, Toyota MR2, Chevy Citation X-11, BMW E30, Mazda Miata, Ford Crown Victoria

Schumacher Taxi Service retired the venerable CoROLLa at the end of the 2012 season after more races than we can count, a minor rollover, a handful of liveries, an overall win and a hell of a lot of fun. They'll carry on racing with an E30 and Mustang in 2013. (Murilee Martin photo)

Schumacher Taxi Service's original CoROLLa FX16 recently entered retirement after well more than a dozen crapcan races (probably more like 20), including a race win at Sebring in ChumpCar. In addition, the team has raced all over the eastern half of the country entering whatever they can get their hands on: a Miata, an MR2, an E30, a skeletal Crown Victoria and a brake-fire-tastic Citation X-11. The length and breadth of their crapcan experience defies brevity and reason, but the Schumacher crew(s) are a staple of  both crapcan series.

Resume: ChumpCar - 1 Overall Win, 7 Top Tens; LeMons - 5 Top Tens, 1 Index of Effluency

Ferdinandwertschätzungsgesellschaft - Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetles are common enough in LeMons and have even exhibited pretty good results at times. The dual-control Beetle hasn't hit its stride yet, but it's still one of the great pieces of homebuilt race tech that we expect in the crapcan world. (Murilee Martin photo)

What's more entertaining than a painfully slow Volkswagen Beetle? Why, a painfully slow Beetle with dual controls, of course. When faced with the issue of drivers of varying sizes, the Ferdinand... team decided the easiest solution was to exploit the Beetle's simple controls by adding a second set of pedals and a second steering wheel. They've experience some bugs (unapologetic pun) in trying to get it to last on the track, but a recent Subaru engine swap should at least double the life of the engine to a solid four hours or so.

Resume: Has completed 305 laps total!

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