Monday, April 15, 2013

March Crapness: Wrap-up

Like any good crapcan race, we can't let March Crapness end without handing out some subjective awards to some of the competitors, in addition to crowning our tournament winners.

But before that, I'm going to pontificate for a short bit, so feel free to skip down a bit to where there are pretty pictures and bold text if you don't care what I have to say. I won't be offended.

March Crapness basically arose out of a monotonous mass transit commute I had for a few months. I spent a few weeks sketching it out and it soon grew into a monster of a (dumb) idea. In my mind, this was a March Madness for the non-sporting-inclined, where there would be as much randomness as that silly basketball tournament, whose victor I still do not know or care to know.

So I planned it all out, wrote the blurbs, hunted down photos from sources (though most of them came from the esteemed Murilee Martin) and--finally--found some HTML polls to embed. This last bit proved to be something I should have started with, as I inevitably found out. But these are the teething troubles we all discover our first times out, whether it's a silly blog project, an inconceivable engine swap or just trying to get that stupid $500 car to run long enough to get a photo of it passing the checkered flag.

I've learned a lot from this project and have been asked by a few people if I'll do a March Crapness in 2014. I'm leaning toward "Yes," but I'm not sure what the timeline or format may look like yet. As always, I welcome any feedback on March Crapness and The Rusty Hub at, but feel free to email me any time, too, just to BS about crapcan BS. I'm a willing participant in such conversations, though I (obviousy) tend to ramble. (I'm almost done, I promise).

Before we get to those awards, I must thank some people who helped me out, be it a photograph, a suggestion or just for being awesome: Murilee Martin (aka Judge Phil), Alex Bellus, Dennis Healy, Mopar 4 Life, Greg Brawley, Blitzen Benz, Mortimer Eldridge Bigglesby Butterman III (aka Tubby), the Eh! Team, MealTime Racing, Dave Ingraham/British American Racing and, of course, all of the teams in March Crapness.

We'd also be remiss if we didn't especially thank anyone who posted a link, followed a link and especially those who voted in The Rusty Hub. Check back often for new content!

Internet Crapcan Grandmaster(s) Nonpareil: Three Pedal Mafia

(Murilee Martin photo)
Three Pedal Mafia pulled out all the stops in the final two rounds to win the tournament by a single vote over NSF Racing. It was nail-biting to the end as we watched votes come in, but the boat-piloting, Gangnam-Styling, Rolls-Royce-building crew from New Jersey eeked it out to take the title in the inaugural March Crapness win. They (and you) should celebrate by watching their, uh, unique take on Gangnam Style from BS Inspections at the New Hampshire race in October 2012.

Internet Crapcan Grandmaster Runners Up: NSF Racing

(Murilee Martin photo)
NSF also pulled out all their stops to procure votes in the final, but fell a single stopper short. They may have lost some Internet friends in the process, but this crew has never had trouble making friends in the LeMons paddock or when careening through Mexico in their Carrera Panamericana entries. The all-out efforts of campaigning kingpin Doug Kirchberg earn some kind of special place for us for being at least 30 times more effective than George McGovern's presidential campaign in 1972, which is coincidentally a year by which most of NSF's cars were probably already on blocks awaiting NSF to get them running for LeMons some 40 years later. 

Internet Crapcan Alpha Dog Bee: Killer ZomBee Racing

(Murilee Martin photo)

Of all the teams in March Crapness, I'm not sure any had as much as fun gathering votes as the ZomBees. They took a delightfully irreverent tone about the whole thing that matches their have-a-crapton-of-fun-at-all-costs attitude on race weekends. To wit, here's one of their calls to kind-of-action from the ZomBee Facebook page:

"Okie-Dokie Folkies!!

Somehow, against all odds, the ZomBee is still in this game! Huh! As is our favorite NEMESIS TinyVette!! And of course some other (totally deserving yadda-yadda) teams too.

So give a click, and give us or your favorite teams another vote in this latest round. GO BEES!!"

Internet Crapcan Cool Super Supra Awesome Team/Pretty Good at the Internet: The Cannonball Bandits

(Murilee Martin photo)
Dave Montoya and the Bandits took March Crapness to heart and hold a special place to us for actually making the Crapness Flailing Four bracket their Facebook page's cover page. We have to admit it's pretty cool looking by our standards. [Note: Our standards also indicate that a 1991 Ford Escort is somehow not aesthetically challenged so take the previous statement with a few pinches of salt.] Anyway, we initially had pegged the Fourth Place title to be "Some Pig!" but after the incredible lengths the Bandits went to during March Crapness, we couldn't stick them with that title, no matter how light-hearted its intentions. So you should know that The Cannonball Bandits are "Pretty Good at the Internet" and/or the "Internet Crapcan Cool Super Supra Awesome Team," which can be used interchangeably.

"I Was Going Real Good, But Then..." Trophy: Team Petty Cash

(Murilee Martin photo)
This award, of course, is named after one of our favorite images of LeMons. As you may have read, we faced some trouble that involved some shenanigans in Internet voting [Pause until gasps die down] in the Team Petty Cash/Duct Tape Motorsports Sweaty Sixteen matchup. This came as an unexpected kick to the sensitive areas for TPC, who'd very recently been a force in the polls and who would have been a very difficult match for Duct Tape. Also recently, they'd spent a weekend at Sears Point chasing down issues with their Cherokee's new V8 motor, completing only 17 laps. It was a rough few days, but Petty Cash's Matt Adair was a good sport about it and I think everyone in the crapcan community is excited to see their wicked-fast 5.3L V8-swapped Cherokee whipping up on the West Coast warriors soon.

Grit 'n' Grins Award: Duct Tape Motorsports

(Murilee Martin photo)

Like Team Petty Cash, Duct Tape got caught up in Internet voting shenanigans [Pro Tip: Internet polls are notoriously difficult to manage]. And like TPC's Matt Adair, Duct Tape driver Scott Barton maintained a good attitude about it, even while he was packing up the DTM cars for the LeMons race at Monticello last weekend. Unlike Petty Cash, Barton's squad found themselves competing for an overall win at their Crapness-Interlude race, as they overcame a practice day mishap in the Red Baron E30 to manage a fourth-place finish in a very competitive field.

Random Number Generator's Choice: Geo Metro Gnome

(Murilee Martin photo)
We turned this over to our esteemed judges' assistants, the same random number generator who seeded the brackets. After a taxing 239 millisecond debate, our random number generator announced its 100 percent random decision for the Geo Metro Gnome! Congrats on existing, Gnomes!

The Not-Better-Than-George-McGovern's-1972-Campaign Award: Rally Baby

(Murilee Martin photo)

The Sweaty Sixteen saw a terrifically close matchup between LeMons heavyweights Rally Baby and NSF Racing. NSF sycophant Doug Kirchberg posted links to the Facebook pages of everyone "of influence," while Rally Baby's Mike Carr took a direct route, asking "influential" (used very liberally here) types to endorse Rally Baby. Carr got a post from rally madman Bill Caswell, but his campaign probably ultimately backfired when his petitioning interrupted the "Game of Thrones" premiere for Motor Trend writer/former LeMons Supreme Court Justice Jonny Lieberman. Lieberman responded by calling for his Facebook friends and followers to vote against Rally Baby while also referring to March Crapness as "some dumb 'Vote for my team' Nonsense." We don't know the effect it had (other than us feeling complimented to be called "dumb...Nonsense" by Lieberman), but Rally Baby ended up losing the matchup by a few dozen votes.

Biggest Underdogs: Tetanus Racing

(Murilee Martin photo)

Tetanus Racing faced an uphill battle in the first round against Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws fresh from a successful campaign of their Cessna-bodied road racer. Maybe Speedycop was otherwise occupied, but Tetanus snuck past Speedycop and then repeated the effort by edging out the Geo Metro Gnome. They nearly pulled off a triple upset, but Three Pedal Mafia defeated Tetanus by just seven votes. What's the secret? Well, Tetanus know everybody in LeMons, it seems, and they're damn fine people. If anyone had filled out brackets ahead of time (why they would, I have no idea), Tetanus would have single-handedly ruined just about all of them in the most awesome way possible.

Tournament Protectors Against Ursine Incursion: Team Bear Patrol

(Greg Brawley photo)

Luckily, the Bear Patrol Lexus SC400 was able to keep those meddling bears out of the tournament. We've heard of other Internet tournaments' voters being mauled by grizzlies, but we were lucky enough to have a competitor who can handle that kind of responsibility. Thanks, Bear Patrol! We voted correctly on 24.

Whoa, Actual Talent! Trophy: Alex Bellus

(Alex Bellus photo)

Sure, we got a lot of great team photos from Murilee Martin, but the most venerable Tubby Butterman Racing introduced us to Alex Bellus, a very talented automotive photographer who occasionally stoops to shoot Midwestern ChumpCar racers. Seriously, check out his photos; we're especially fond of the ones he's shot at American Le Mans Series and vintage races.

Holy Crap, Really? Cup: MealTime Racing 

(Mealtime Racing photo)
 We'd seen MealTime Racing's name around the ChumpCar timing sheets since we started following races, but until we talked to Kyle Hunsberger from the team, we had no idea that their Civic featured an underhood grill that they used to cook sandwiches and sausages while on track. When Hunsberger sent us photos of the setup, we drooled at our monitor for about 20 minutes and made immediate plans to modify our daily driver so that we could pull up to work, pop the hood and enjoy a delicious grilled bacon-and-awesome sandwich hot off the manifold.

Can't Vote, Racing: (Tie) Stick Figure Racing, Spank

For a couple of teams in March Crapness, the LeMons race at Sears Point infringed on any ability to campaign for votes. In a perfect world, we'd have held March Crapness outside of racing season rather than trying to mirror that silly basketball tournament. As a result, both Stick Figure Racing and Spank lost their opening rounds through what was probably indifference, but we all know that the on-track results are a lot more important than arbitrary Internet silliness. Stick Figure debuted their FX32 with a great result and Spank's 1962 Austin Mini became the first car to win two Indexes of Effluency that weekend at Sears Point. We'd take that over a Crapness win.

Real Winners: Keystone Kops, Team LemonAid, Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws, The Cannonball Bandits

Crapcan racing, like almost all amateur motorsports, is mostly racing for racing's sake. Sure, feats of garage engineering may inspire some incredibly minute aspect of future automotive technology, but no crapcan team is developing the next great automotive invention for use in road cars (that we know of...otherwise, shoot us an email).

However, it's not uncommon for crapcan teams to use their means to raise funds for charity. We know there are a lot of them, but we're going to highlight the Keystone Kops, Team LemonAid, The Cannonball Bandits and Speedycop and His Gang of Outlaws from this tournament. We could write hundreds of words, but we'll leave you with links to their fundraising efforts--each of which takes a different approach--so you can see for yourself the good they've been doing and hopefully we can inspire more teams to raise money for good causes:

Keystone Kops and Alex's Lemonade Stand - The team take donations from racers, both penalized and the generous. At Autobahn in October 2012, several winning teams donated their boxes of nickels to Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Team LemonAid and Wildwood Ranch -LemonAid takes donation pledges for the Ranch before the race on a per-lap basis and then collects afterward based on the number of laps the team's Geo Metro has run.

Speedycop and the Wounded Warrior Project - Speedycop and Co. built a jelly-bean Mercury Cougar for the Summit Point race in 2011; the car's automatic transmission lets wounded veterans get a try behind the wheel and Speedycop also sold seat time to drivers at the race in 30-minute blocks with the money going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Cannonball Bandits - The Bandits raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation in a myriad of ways, but they've recently partnered with Rockstar Energy Drinks to host parties in their paddock space after the track goes cold where they hand out donated Rockstar in exchange for donations. The Bandit drivers have also been known for--to use the words of Dave Montoya--"dressing down into speedos and looking like idiots to solicit donations. Basically donate to go away." They also take donations on their website (linked above).

[Shameless plug for content: Have you used your crapcan to raise money for a charity? Write and tell us about it. We think this is one of the great areas of potential for racing to provide.]

That's all we've got to say for now. Thanks again for reading and/or voting and be sure to check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (We'll follow you back, we promise), where we post a lot of content in addition to our blog!

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