Thursday, October 25, 2007

24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze: The Aftermath

Well, the 24 Hours of LeMons Arse-Freeze-a-Palooza is history, and it's taken me four days to fully digest. Words and static pictures just fail to capture the impact of seeing this event actually happen in real life.

The 24 Hours of LeMons just might be the greatest automobile race of modern times. It is the opus of Jay Lamm, irreverent automotive pundit, Berkeley resident (close enough), and sometime freelance journalist. This is a guy who once brought a Mazda RX2 4-door dressed up as a Tokyo police car on our Double 500 road rally. I heard he also reconstructed the Berlin Wall in his apartment for a recent Berlin: 1989-themed birthday party. Whatever the truth, he's an eccentric. But I'm not sure even Jay himself realizes how truly wonderful his spectacle of bullshite is. For example, witness the total destruction of a late-model 7-series BMW for none other than sacrificial purposes:

All this, of course, as 80+ out-of-control crapcans careen around the bankings and tight switchbacks of the appropriately dubbed "Altamonterring". The silver 7-series BMW suffered the "People's Curse" penalty, one of countless penalties awarded for over-the-budget cars or shitty driving. Believe it or not, it even came back after this punishment to finish the race.

LeMons is, of course, a parody of a race (the 24 Hours of LeMans in France). But make no mistake about it: this is a serious road race, with determined drivers vying for the glory, and, of course, the winning purse, $1500 in nickels. For an in-car glimpse of how intense the on-track action is, check out the following clip from Team Santa Cruz, who ran a Porsche 944:

We'll have in-car video from the MJS MR2 soon, but for now this will have to do!

The winning Black Iron (#65) team, fellow three-time veterans of LeMons, drove a BMW 5-series with most of the identifiable bodywork chopped off. In the closing moments of the race, the Circus Maximus team (formerly known as the Holy Rollers), who appeared to have had the race locked up, lost a tire and went parading around the track. The hard-charging Black Iron boys saw this last-minute vulnerability and upped their pace - at the finish line, after approximately 14 hours of wheel-to-wheel racing, Black Iron emerged victorious with a sub 8-second margin of victory! Spectacular job!

Here we see a typical 4-wide pack navigating the notorious back banking....better get in line before you get pinched at the ridiculously narrow Esses! If you don't, you're liable to run into a large tractor tire strategically placed to aid you in your destruction.

The Motoring J Style MR2/MeR deux Toyota MR2 made its second LeMons appearance, after a solid 12th place finish in July's championship race. We avoided behemoths like this quite terrifying Richard Petty themed Ford Thunderbird (above), and showed the "Canola Rolla'z" (below), how we roll...that's right, Toyota 4AG style and none of that vegetable oil business.

We managed to stay out of the pits for most of the race, which is essentially the key to success in endurance racing...gotta keep your driver circling the track at all times! We had a few incidents, but thankfully none compared to these:

The AMC Hornet's wheel decided it no longer wanted to be attached to the car....and rolled away...

Our friends from Fantasy Junction used this Mazda to run into a lot of things.

Conrad Stevenson's excellent Alfa Spyder benefitting from some late-night repairs.

This team brought an '80s 5-speed Camry, and spent most of the race in the pit next to us doing a clutch job.

And our sister car, the California Mille entry (#34 Alfetta) ran in the top 10 for the first half of the race before the car began a slow death on Sunday morning. They finished 35th. And hey, check out that Conquest TSi and the AE92 in the background!

Before July 2007 race:

After October race:

Despite some close calls (and, let's face it, many outright impacts and straight up crashes), the MR2 kept circling. The Motoring J Style team brought the car home 4th overall, a mere 29 laps down from the winning BMW!

We'll be back for the season finale at Thunderhill on December 29-30 to challenge LeMons once more. Is our MR2 bound for even greater glory that it has already achieved? We think so!

See more about the October race at:

24 Hours of Lemons Website
Full October Results