Chapter 128

The 24 Hours of LeMons TEXAS!!!

We ROCK to 2nd place out of 75+ !!!

17-19 October, 2008

---PICTURES NOW ADDED with captions below them!!---

AWESOME LINKS AT THE END!!!

Settle on in folks, this is going to be a LONG story. Go ahead and get some snacks and a drink and get comfy because you are going to be here a while. No skimming recommended due to the fact that you'll miss some great stuff. This chapter will have MANY authors as lots of team members have chimed in their thoughts in order to make this the best we can. Before we move on and introduce the team, I've got to say a quick word that I've never had to say on Witchdoc. Folks, there will be some curse words in this story. Sorry, but to give you what really happened, we'll be telling it like it is.  

 

Our car for the test day.

 

The Team:

Gary 'Alien': 'The voice of the team'. Worked the radios the WHOLE time and kept the drivers informed on flags, other cars, strategy, time remaining, aircraft alerts and hints on Sodoku. This guy did an awesome job calling the race and always kept his cool.

Laura: 'I've got it'. Kept everyone informed and typically knew where everything was at seemingly all times. Always smiling and helpful, AND let us use her and the Alien's house!!! (two thumbs way up!)

Chris 'Beavis': 'Tires are good to go!' Kept the rubber taken car of (even on the golf-cart trailer!!) and the underside of the car checked. Pressures were always perfect with Beavis in charge.

Wade & Hunter: 'FUEL IS DONE!'. The dynamic duo of the gas jugs, these guys can put 15 gallons in the car in about a minute and look damn sporty in their bubble goggles at the same time. Fuel was ALWAYS done and locked before the driver changes could be complete

Nick & Cody: 'HOOD IS DOWN!'. The dynamic duo of the powerplant, these guys kept the black gold in the engine full (we had minor leaks), the underside checked for abnormalities (well….other than the normal abnormalities that is…), all other fluids checked (we used no water or brake fluid and the trans and diff temps were just fine) and the engine bay buttoned up.

Anna 'BikiniRacer': 'Chief of Tech Distraction', '24 Hours Plan Hatcher', and 'bringin the car home in one piece!' driver.

Todd: 'Hey that car has zebra stripes', 'Remind me to slap the driver of the 3 car!', and 'Oh HELL yeah' driver.

Costas: 'Good stop, good stop', 'These guys are all IDIOTS', and 'Where are we?' driver.

4th Driver: We had a 4th driver. 

 

11 folks. 1 x 500$ car. Well, it was actually 650$, but we sold enough stuff off of it to get the price down in the 240 range and then we spent that money back up to the 450$ or so mark. It is a 1987 Chevy Camaro with T-tops, a worn out 5.0 v8 and a 5speed. We swapped the drum setup for a worn out peg-leg 9bolt with rear discs (working limited slip diffs for 9 bolts are slightly more desirable than ice water in Hades, so a 9bolt with a dead posi is usually darn cheap!) and the factory rear PBR single piston brakes. The front brakes were the stock single-piston steel caliper units. Pads were Raybestos race pads that the Porterfield folks (Thanks Wendy!) swore would last the whole race with no issues. They even sent stickers. As promised, the pads lasted, the brakes were phenomenal (nobody could out-brake us into the corners) and they STILL look great after 452 laps.

This isn't going to be the typical writeup since we've got SO MUCH to say and lots of folks have things to add, and since we've got to start SOMEWHERE, we'll start with one of our awesome crewdogs, Nick!

 

Wahoo! Personalized test day sticker FTW!!

 

Test day was overcast, we didn't even put up the bigshade(tm)!

 

Fuel cell work begins in earnest! 

Well, hello Hunter!

I'm tired and grumpy and I have power tools. I'm just sayin...

 

 

NICK:

It worked.  Who the h3ll could have seen this working?  I was skeptical, I admit it.  A $500 Camaro lasting 13 hours on a road course?  No way.  When I picked the car up from Gary, I saw the balancer shaking, I heard it running (barely), I saw the awesomeness of the "wiring from nowhere to nowhere" under the dash.  Yeah, this was gonna be interesting.  When I brought it home to casa de Withdoctor, Paul had that look.  That look that said "oh yeah, I can make this thing run on a track for 13 hours...I think..."  It took some elbow grease, and luckily, there was plenty to go around just from the underside of the car. 

 

The event itself was crazy.  Bikinis.  Mullet wigs.  Swedish chefs.  Larger than life "smoking paraphenalia".  A metal silhouette of bunny-on-bunny action.  Yup.  You heard me.  At least we know there's some creativity left in this world.  Bork bork bork bork...

 

Our car was good.  But our team was awesome.  4 drivers, 13 hours.  No spins, no mechanicals, no contact.  Us crew dogs did a great job too (if we do say so ourselves) ;-)  I'm glad we all made it in for this.  The only thing better than being involved with racing is being involved with racing with your friends!  Let's hope someone remembers your mom next time!

 

Costas:

Next up is Todd, who had NEVER driven the car or track before we strapped him in for the last stint on Saturday:

 

How she looked the next morning!

Oh yes....Good enough is FINE for us!!!

 

TODD:

The only thing I can think of was watching the penalty box fill up and seeing people tarred and feathered, having aluminum filings dropped in the motor and the best one I saw was the mus-tank get a toilet paper roll rack welded to it for shitty driving.  On that same note, another white Fox mustang got spray painted with red paint saying "Like a Rock"  "Chevy Z28" and on the dash was written "I am a shitty driver" since they spun 'Obama - change of theme' on the penalty wheel.  I was told by one of the judges that two people ate the pickled okra and another person ate a pickled pigs foot to get out of a timed penalty. (Ewwwww…-Costas)

 

On track, I had a front row seat for the shark Bimmer pull a bonehead and hit another car.  Rene's integra (not with Rene driving though -Costas) tried to out brake us and drove straight off of Turn 1.  Also, another black primered bimmer spun by himself in front of me but I never had to hit the grass.  But, the best show was watching David Hedderick's teammate, Chung, drive over the hump and right into the side of another car.  It was priceless to come around and see the front airdam laying on the ground and I considered running over it to teach them a lesson about winning the race, not the corner.

 

 

Are you 'popped-collar' cool? Hunter is.

 

HUNTER:

At this point I don't even know what to say.  What a great freaking weekend. 

 

So on to the Play-By-Play from my shoes.

 

I roll out of work Thursday and head to College Station to meet up the Wade.  I drop my car in his garage (cant leave the M3 sitting outside) toss my gear in his truck and away we go. We hit Gary and Laura's house about an hour later, nothing real crazy happens that night.  Paul gets in we pull some stuff from the car, find places to pass out and sleep… little did I know that was the last bed I was going to see for 40+ hours.

 

Friday we wake up, load up and head to the track.  We get all checked in and get the car unloaded.  …Hey Costas that is a huge fuel cell…  We wrap up a few little things on the car and get it out on track.  First impression is not great, but it's on the craptastic backup tires so we pull in swap on the good meat and send him back out.  Well with the good tires its better but the front is too low and the braking zones are not smooth.  Just watching the 5-7 laps Wade and I knew what was coming… Crap. Swap front springs.  We pull in get the car up in the air and get to work, and I mean its almost like we have done this before: car is up and springs are swapped in 30-45 min. 

 

While we are swapping the spings, Anna shows up…what no chocolate moose cake?… we eat and then send the car out for some testing.  All looks good so after a few laps we pull in and get the car ready for TECH… and so the fun begins…

 

Costas with a bikini clad Anna drive the car to tech, and I guess the inspector spent more time looking at her then at the car because it passed. We then roll the car up to the BS judging.  Anna gets out of the car and further distracts the two judges. Nice work.  About the time the BS judges were ready to sign off on the car the safety people come up and pull our tech sheet.  WTF.  They tell us the lower part of the fuel cell needs to be covered in metal and that if we can get that done we should pass no problem.  Costas gets a little upset…

 

We head back to the pit to get Anna in the car to get some seat time in the car while we figure out how we are going to get the cell covered in metal.  She goes out for 30+ min (longest stint of the practice day) and does great.  We get her pulled in and get to work on the car. 

 

We have some sheet in the FABBOX™  but nothing that will get the bottom covered.  Humm, hey I bet the guys with the 18 wheeler car hauler have something.  They do and we get back to work.  Wade and I fab up a big plate for the bottom and we get it strapped in.  We head back to TECH…

 

And that is…well… lets just say that's where the fun began…

 

SO we roll the car in to TECH and the original inspector looks at it and kind of gives it the ok, but then calls over the event master and some other people.  They are look at it and then walk off to talk. 

 

I look over at Wade and we both kinda get that well that's not good feeling.  Costas is still in the car not saying a word… you could tell he was steamed. I have known Costas for almost 10 years and I don't think I have ever seen him not talking…

 

Jay the event master comes over and in so many words tells us its not going to pass…. Well crap what are our options.  We find out that one of the other teams has a 22 gal cell that they are not going to be using. So we can work something out with them or we can find a stock tank.

 

We get the car back to the pit and Wade and I start cutting out the old cell out…Paul is quiet and in the car (and still pissed -Costas)… Wade and I get all the tape pulled and start to drill all the rivets.  (I think the drill and maybe the sawzall were the only tools we used that were ours.)

 

To make this long part of the story short… I am sure the pics do a better job telling it then me.  We get the new cell welded in and the car started at about midnight with much help from those people around us (much, MUCH help…to which we are REALLY thankful! -Costas)

 

The call is made at about 12:30 to sleep over night at the track, so we clean up and head to the truck to catch some Zs.  …Wade turn on the heater…

 

Saturday… Race Day

 

Step 1: Take car to TECH and get it passed, that was easy one look at the new cell, a few handshakes and we are good to go.

Step 2:  ???

Step 3: Finish the day in 2nd place on the lead lap.

 

Ok in reality ??? It was a ton of watching cars go around.  A lot of asking Gary what Costas was saying on the radio, a few 'OMG did ya see that move' when we were on track, and about 20 min of number crunching to see if Todd was going to run out of gas.

 

So the play-by-play.  After we get out of TECH we head back to the pit and get Costas ready to go in to the car.  About 30 min before we start we have a quick drivers meeting where they tell us you will have to do crazy things (put metal shavings in your oil, eat nasty stuff) if you get black flagged. …Costas "Im not going to eat that, can I eat the metal shavings instead?" (I'd eat aluminum before picked calf brains…-Costas)

 

So finally after a day of testing and swapping and cutting and welding and sleeping in the truck it is time to race.  YAY … Well its time to run parade laps for an hour anyway, blah.  So after the first hour of laps they go green, and then about 30 sec later yellow, and then green and then someone else blows up and they go yellow.  It does this for most of the first stint.  After about 2+ hours we pull in for gas from 3rd place and our first driver change.  Pit Stop goes great: Costas out of the car and then 10g of gas installed and away we go.  Me "Ya this is not our first rodeo".  

 

So our 2nd driver is in the car and we are rolling good.  A quick check of the standings and wow we are 8th … humm we did just want to finish but guys we could have a solid top 10. 

 

2nd driver goes a solid 2+ hours, a lot more green racing then Costas got and he looked really good. 

 

So 4+ hours with out contact and its about time to put Todd in the car.  Track goes yellow Gary makes the car and in comes the car. Gas up (16g this time) driver change done, and were off.  High fives all around…

 

…we walk back over to the timing and scoring table: OMG we are in 4th… you could tell everyone had the same thought at the same time but no one wanted to say anything.

 

At this point its getting close to 1730, Todd should have about 30 min left in the car… SHOULD… well a quick chat with several of the other teams confirms we were off on our time and we don't checker till 1830 not 1800… Costas "Wade, Hunter do we have fuel for this?"  The Top Gun and Days of Thunder quotes start to fly… so after some work on the iPhone, Wade and I think we are pretty sure we have gas for the extra time + 30 min or so.  Turns out it was a good guess and we take the checker still running! The next day we put 19g of gas in the tank.  Humm that was close!!

 

We get the car back to pits *high fives all around* at this point a buddy of ours walks up with this big grin on his face… well he always kinda has a big grin on his face (Rene is just like that… -Costas), but we could tell he knew something. He tells us we were in 2nd after day one… O hell ya!!

 

Car gets packed up and we head out to dinner, visions of a bed and a good night s sleep dance in our heads.

 

Sunday… Race Day Duce

 

So we start the day in 2nd place.  A lot of the day goes like it did the day before.  We executed our stops like we needed to and we trade 1st and 2nd all day with the "Shwing" Team. 

 

We have a few complaints from the drivers that the car is not pulling like it should but at this point there is not a lot we can do. 

 

We finish the day in 2nd with a solid lead on 3rd and only a lap or so back from 1st, not  bad showing for our first Lemons. 

And the car survived she will live to fight another day. 

 

Race morning and I'm safety-wiring Barbie to the rollcage on scant sleep in a cold truck. 

 

 

ANNA:

 

Friday, October 17, 2008 - LeMon's Test Day 

So the last time I showed up to a track to drive an unknown car was in 2006.  Then, it was a 350Z and was only for 1/4 mile.  This time, it was the '87 Camaro, for wheel to wheel racing, at variable speeds, on a track that is more than 1.5 miles.  Am I nervous, you bet.  But with 3 other experienced drivers, it shouldn't be too bad.  Besides, it's a bunch of beater $500 cars...how many of them will make it past the test day, let alone the whole weekend?  We'll see. 

 

So we arrive to the track and the car is looking good.  The guys finish up checking some things, I put on the graphics.  Add a bikini to the rear bumper and a barbie to the back of the rollcage and we're set.  Costas took the car out in the morning.  Now it's time for Rami and I to have a go.  Unfortunately, they won't let me have Costas, my trusty 'NASA instructor', go out on course with me.  In the words of the track head cheese, "this is a heck of an event to learn to road race on". I hop in and realize it will take about 2 pillows for me to be able to push the clutch completely in.  No problem.  Time to back up textbook with track time.   

 

There's alot more to road racing then drag racing - yield to cars, checking mirrors on both sides for cars, gas, brake, gas, brake, turns, apex and tire chicanes...what the heck are chicanes?  Oh, I quickly found out.  I drive better and faster when trying to chase someone down.  After about 10 minutes, I pull in but was soon told that Costas wants me to stay out longer.  Alright, I'll keep going.  Little dog syndrome when you try to hang with the big dogs.  The Camaro can't handle quite as well as a miata.  1:37 lap time, not too slow, must go faster.  But as soon as I start to get a little more courage, checkered flag...time to go in and get ready for tech. 

 

Tech/Judging Pt 1 

So, we pull up to tech.  Costas driving and me in the passenger's seat - fully decked out in race jacket, black bikini underneath, yellow/black leg warmers and 6" black stilettos.  The many tech guys swarm around, checking seat bolstering, roof appliqué, bikini, roll cage, battery, heels, etc. Check, check, check and we are through to BS judging.  The judges immediately ask for the hood to be popped.  Then they check the springs.  Enter bikiniracer bikini bribe to distract from the spring inspection and idle check.  Hee, hee.  The judges take pictures with me, give us 0 penalites and off we go.   

 

Or so we thought….. 

 

The tech guys noticed the dropdown of the fuel cell from the back.  Minor detail that this thing is hanging about 2-3" above the ground (See first pic in story -Costas).  They immediately grab the tech sheet and scratch out the tech approval signature.  Apparently the fuel cell doesn't look too safe to them, it's plastic and if a bump hits it, it could puncture the cell.  They want a bottom on the fuel cell so Costas says a few rivets and some sheet metal and it should be good.  Tech says ok, bring it back later. Whew….I think…. 

The guys head back to the pits and a metal bottom is promptly riveted on.  In the meantime, I am hanging out in the tech/judging area.  It's fun to watch the other cars go through tech and it's always good to know exactly who is in charge - nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  So I have my CA i.d. card conveniently nestled in my hand with my camera…..and the CA lemons tech guys take the bait.  David, the guy that didn't pass us comes over to talk to me.  He ends up telling me how they work tech, what needed to be done with our car, what other people have done with their cars, why others aren't passing tech and who is in charge of everything, amongst other information.  Just what I needed to know.  Back to the trailer and then back to tech. 

 

Tech/Judging Pt 2 

No bikini this time, although the tech guys were convinced that we needed to go through judging again.  Sorry, but it's getting cold.  We pull up and they take a look and still aren't liking the position of the fuel cell.  Costas mentions that Jay approved the fuel cell idea.  Enter Jay Lamm - the coordinator of the event.  He approved the placement of a fuel cell but specifics of placement and size were never discussed.  Jay is starting to get mad. 

 

As tech is scrutinizing the welds and the fuel cell itself, Costas tells them that it would work for SCCA.  #$%#%#$%!!!  The tech guys immediately pop back with "this isn't the f*cking SCCA".  They are starting to get a bit peeved with the fuel cell justification from Costas.  Jay takes a look and says "apparently these guys think they are going to run out of fuel before they run out of talent and they are sadly mistaken".  Thank goodness I was the only one that heard this…. (Oh, I heard it, I was just ignoring it…we had already lost the fight, no reason to continue - Costas)

 

Jay gets underneath the car and proceeds to tell the team that the fuel cell is unsafe…the idea is crap, the welds are crap, the design is crap, etc.  Costas is steamed and ready to go home.  Wade, Hunter and the team are listening.  I look at David and he whispers: you shouldn't have a problem, let me talk to him.  Then as the tech guys are reconvening at the back of the car, they are considering hooking us up with the Mooz-Mooz miata team since they gave them a break on their "track prepped" car.  They want us to be able to race but they DIDN'T like the fuel cell.   

 

So I'm standing with them as the bantering ensues and they decide to relocate a bit further away.  A bystander says "listen to the engine, there's no way they don't have anything done to that" and I immediately turn around and SHHH him. 

 

Tech comes back and Jay gives us our options if we should choose to stay for the event. 

Option 1 - find a stock fuel system at a junkyard and put it back in

Option 2 - find a metal fuel cell and replace the one that we have (find Mooz-Mooz and a welding machine)

Option 3 - move the current fuel cell up in line with the pumpkin (find a welding machine and a cutter) 

 

According to Jay, our easiest option would be to find a stock fuel system.  But then we are stuck coming into the pits frequently.  Or wrench all night replacing the fuel cell if we find an alternate and maybe have the car ready by 9am.  That said, the guys are off to find Mooz-Mooz.  I stay behind and talk to Jay and David.  David has a fuel cell at his house, which is 20 minutes away.  He knows it will fit but we would need to find a bladder for it - hmm, what is a bladder?  The Mooz-Mooz miata had to remove their 20 gal fuel cell and they might be willing to help us out but we needed to find them asap.  Jay also mentioned that any F body group in the pits would be willing to help with cutting and welding.   

 

Alright, tech's list for me:  check with Mooz, check with Diablo, find a group that can cut/weld, make sure replacement is metal and above pumpkins, leave the chatty guy (Costas) at the trailer in the morning.  Check, check, check.   

We have fuel cell and Team Diablo (and alternates) for welding.  Looks like it's going to be a long night. 

***INSERT COSTAS, WADE, HUNTER, STORY OF THE FUEL CELL SWAP (from hell) HERE*** 

We slept in our vehicles at the track - bedtime was around midnight.  The guys worked nonstop.  If not for persistence of our fearless crew (Wade & Hunter cutting, welding, hammering, bolting, etc)….the Camaro would be lost…..the Camaro would be lost.  

 

Great job guys!!

 

+++++++++++++=

 

Saturday, October 18, 2008 

7:00am - everyone is rolling out of their frosty car cocoons to a beautiful day.  The rest of the crew has arrived.  Fuel cell looks good.  I had the tech guys come inspect the install periodically last night so tech today shouldn't be a problem today.  I decide to check with my LeMons contact, Nick, to make sure we don't need to bring safety gear back up or go thru BS judging again.  Thank goodness, all we have to do is go through tech and BS automatically pass us with no penalties - apparently they felt really bad that the guys had to stay up most of the night to replace the fuel cell.  Off to tech we go - sans Costas (sorry hon) (Hey, I didn’t' WANT to go…no biggie! J -Costas).  Check, check and we are good to race.  Driver's meeting consisted of basic instructions and rules.  Gentlemen, start your LeMons!! 

 

Looks like fueling of any kind is to be done near track exit.  This area consisted of about 10 yards of concrete and dozens of 5 gallon fuel containers...yeah...good thing we tied bikinis around our jugs (ha, ha) (Bikini's? Jugs? Did you REALLY type that??? -Costas).

 

Costas is suited up and the line begins to form for track entry.  There isn't a grid, they're just going to throw a green flag somewhere in the mix once all transponders are connected.  And they're off.  5 min of pace laps….couple of cars poop out….10 min of pace laps….20 min of pace laps….30 min of pace laps…..GREEN!!  My, my.  These $500 cans can go.   

 

So the plan for today is to let the boys drive, let attrition take its toll and see how the car does.  2ish hours each….they seem to be good to go.  First pit stop, all is good. 

   

Results got posted periodically.  We were in 6th, then 8th, then battling it out for the top 4 spots!  I would frequent the pit stops of our top competitors trying to figure out their strategy (how long they take to fuel up, how many gallons they check, which driver goes in, etc).  These observations should help us in case it gets really, really close.   

 

2ish hours pass.  2nd pit stop and Todd is in the car.  Holy crap, we are battling it out for top 3.  The boys are showing mad skills on the track. This is a full out road race! 6:30ish and we are done for the day.  Sitting pretty, tied for 1st!!  By now I am feeling pretty nervous.  My dilemma, to drive since I am a driver or to just let the guys handle this since we are SO close to first.  What to do.... 

 

Dinner time - heading to Chili's.  We need to discuss which car will get canned for "people's curse".  This is where the people choose a 'cheater' car and it gets crushed on site.  We head to Gary & Laura's house afterwards.  Then I realize....the paper (our team's ballot)  for people's curse....is still on the table.  Call up Chili's and it's gone.  No digging thru the trash - apparently the trash was taken out after our table was cleared.  Sigh, well, we'll see who gets canned tomorrow.  No biggie. 

 

It's been a LONG time since my last sleepover with a group of people. I camp in the kitchen and Costas, Chris and Todd are across the way spread out in the living room.  Wade was the first one out (yes, I have pics of you sleeping) and everyone else was quickly off to their sleeping area.   

 

Lights out.....and then I hear something that sounded like:  sawing logs, a table being drug across a wood floor, Chewbacca, grunting and snoring all mixed together.  Then Todd busts out laughing, then I start laughing, Costas is laughing, etc.  OMG, I haven't heard snoring like that....ever!!  Such a big snore out of Chris!!  And it keeps going, even after Costas tells him to turn over.  And going and going.  Chris is like the energizer bunny of snoring.  Todd, Costas and I are still laughing and now I can hear the others laughing in the other room.  I am laughing so hard I'm crying!  OMG, I hope I can go to sleep....didn't take long and I am out..... 

 

+++++++++++++

 

Sunday, October 19, 2008 

Wakey, wakey, eggs n bakey.  6:00am and we are off to the track.  We are currently sitting in 2nd place and closing in on the Schwing Team.  Those who wrenched overnight were lining up to start again.  I never thought we would be so close to winning this event.  I was banking on the event being a 30-40mph course with poorly constructed heaps limping around the track.  Much to my surprise, these $500 dollar beaters and their teams were turning out to be quite challenging and fast!  This event is based on team and strategy.   

 

In order for us to overcome the Schwing Team, we have to have our pit stops timed perfectly, keep gaining ground on each lap and NOT have me drive. 

Coming into this event, I was the handicap.  Our teams consists of:

Paul Costas - 15+ years of track/autoX experience, former rally racer, NASA instructor/licensed, SCCA licensed, IMSA licensed, etc.

Todd Farris - 10+ years of track/autoX experience, NASCAR licensed stock car racer

Anna the bikiniracer - 4 + years of drag racing, some autoX, 0 track experience 

4th driver: Autocross experience, a few track days. 

 

I drove the course on Friday but not as fast and skilled as the others.  When signing up for this event with Witchdoctor, I knew we would have mad track skills. 

 

Did I have something to prove?  You bet I did.  I wanted to show that I could do something other than straight-line racing (Costas knows what I'm talking about).  I wanted to show that the bikiniracer wasn't just a bikini-clad paddock bunny....I actually had someone come up to me at this event as I was running to the driver change/refuel and ask "shouldn't you be out on the side in your bikini holding a sign to let the guys know what lap they're on?"  My response "Uh, negs (negative)" - OMG..   

 

I have skills, granted they weren't honed into yet and not too polished.  Would this event be the event to prove it at?  Perhaps not with the position we were in.  Swallow the pride (there is no 'I' in TEAM) and let the boys take the wheel.  Yes, this was all for fun….but come on….it's also a competition.  When you want to win, you put your best players in.  And after watching the crew do all that work and to have so many crew come from afar, a victory would be the best show of thanks.   

 

Costas drives first.  As competitors drop like flies, 2ish hours pass.  The Camaro comes in for fueling….exit Costas. Laps are tied with Schwing.  We dip down by 2 laps but bring it back to even after another 2ish hours.  Fuel stop #2….enter Todd.  We are closing in, a little more than ¾ of a lap down.  Now only ½ a lap.  The yellow flags (= no passing) seem to be hitting us and missing Schwing.  Go faster!!  But there we have a surging throttle, power and then no power…..we are still ½ a lap down with 1 hour to go in the race weekend.  Costas tells me to "suit up….we can't possibly make up the ½ lap…., and all the rest of the guys on track get beat by a girl, let's GO!".   

 

Of course, I argue, saying anything can happen.  Then the unthinkable happens - Costas says please - not once, but twice.  Apparently, this is something that rarely happens (right, Cos?  J)  Alright, time is winding down.  Off to drive.   

 

Todd pops out and I get in.  Holy crap the harness is tight and it's hard to turn your head in a Hans!!  No penalties and no contact.  Keep a good line and drive decently fast.  Into turn 1 I go.  Tire chicane - not too bad.  Gary is on the radio, crap where's the button to respond?  Cars behind me.  Going into the tire alley.  Yellow at start, no passing but keep up speed.  2nd verse, same as the 1st, etc, etc, etc.  Still in 2nd and there's the checkered flag.  LeMons has come to an end.  The car survived.  No penalties.  No mishaps.  One of the LeMons guys comes up to the car as we are pulling into the pits and says "you know, you were only 1/2 a lap behind the guys in first until you switched drivers".  I say "I know, we did the math, we couldn't have made up that much ground" but thanks for pointing that out - LOL.   

 

The guys drove AWESOME.  The crew was SUPERB.  I am thankful that we had such a cool group.  We didn't win the bag of nickels but we did end up winning the PW class (something like 'prayer of winning') and took home a very cool, welded from spare parts, trophy.  I drove 7 seconds faster than my best practice lap.  Am I happy at how the weekend unfolded - heck yes.  Would I change anything for next time?  Faster pit stops and perhaps more practice track time in the Camaro.  Otherwise, the entire event was really, really fun.  I had a blast hanging out with everyone and I hope everyone had a super weekend.  2009 LeMons?   In the words of Todd, "Heeeeeellllllllll YEAH!"

 

(FYI: Anna dropped to the 1:31s at the end of her stint…AWESOME! -Costas)

First pit-stop. It was organized but very quick!

 

 

GARY:

Texas LeMons: 

When Costas had talked about the LeMons race, I figured it'd either be a Monza or third gen.  Sure enough, I got the call to go look at a craigslist Camaro.  I picked up my trailer, my dad, and some cash and headed to north Houston.  The car looked rough, smelled rough, ran rough.  Sent a few phone-camera quality pics to Costas and gave him a call.  With the seller standing right there the conversation went something like this.

 

Costas - "Looks like what we need.  Get me bottom dollar"

Me - "I don't know, the wiring is pretty bad, lots of rigging"

Costas - "No problem, we'll probably rewire the main stuff anyways"

Me - "Yeah, I agree, that could be a deal breaker.  Also it looks like it's got a bit of damage to the lower radiator support"

Costas - "As long as there's no damage to the unibody we're golden"

Me - "Looks like the steering box is leaking"

Costas - "Hey! F1 is on SPEED!"

Me - "Got a leak from the rear of the trans too"

Costas - "Huh? Did you say something? Sure, sounds good, buy it"

Me – “Ok, I’ll take a look…. Hmmm… Interior is pretty bad, gonna require a lot of work, bigger concern is that wobbling crank pulley.”

Costas – “How’s your mum and dad?”

Me - "Me? Personally I wouldn't pay $400 for this, I got Laura's for $150, granted motor and trans had issues, but the body was a lot better, it's your call, how much do you want to offer?"

Costas - "Just call me when you’re done"

Me - "Ok, I'll see if he will take $600 for it"

(that is really how the convo went too...I was watching F1 Qualy... -Costas)

 

We settled on $650.  It ran and drove, wobbly crank pulley and all.  I was just happy we didn't have to push/winch this Camaro onto the trailer.

 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to put too much elbow grease into prepping the car, but I did come to realize I have way too many third gen parts.  What's that? You want to replace a bent axle?  Sorry, all I have is an entire rear end... or three.  Your choice, disc with with a dead posi, or drums with a torsen or drums with dead posi? Wheels? RS or Irocs?  Want an oil pan? How about a genuine b4c pan.  You want to take some spare front rotors and calipers? I got those; they're attached to my spare spindles (including the Van Horn special!) and LCA's. Struts and a radiator were also on the list.

 

Laura and I were more than happy to put up everyone for the night (or two).  MSR-H is south of Houston and I live on the west side.  So, depending on which route you go, we’re still about 30min to an hour (equivalent to 5 Chili’s restaurants) away from MSR. 

 

The Race

We were told they would be a few laps under yellow before they first dropped the green.  I lost count of the number of times I radio'd "Get ready, starter has green in his hand.... still yellow.... crap.. still yellow." It seemed like every time they cleared the track of a broken car, someone else would come to a stop on course.   

 

After finally getting a green, the first stint with Costas was painfully long, caution after caution.  The first two in particular were kinda scary.  "Full course caution!"  Then to see what seemed like every other car still racing hard as the other half had dramatically slowed their pace.  Thankfully, nobody was rearended though quite a few black flags and penalties were handed out.  With so many cars on course, traffic management was key, and Costas was sure to remind us of that upon passing a large pack of cars.  "Now THAT is traffic management!"

 

Our second driver had some good few long green flag racing and settled into a nice groove.  Todd wasn't quite so lucky.  A few consecutive cautions right after he got behind the wheel = some bitching on the headset accompanied with some random musing and singing.  And there I was, thinking that Costas was the only one to have the courtesy of pushing the talk button to share their vocal talents.  I will say that the voting public won't have to worry about having to choose either Costas or Todd for the American Idol finale.  Between the cautions, Todd clicked off some fast laps and some amazing passes.

 

Things the drivers learned:

Having to add half qrt of oil per session is no issue, it's when you crack open the 2nd quart you may start to be concerned.

Worry about 220* water temp? Nah, back off a touch once it reaches 235-240*

Carb issues? Yeah, sorry, you're just gonna have to deal wik it.

 

Anna is very quiet on the radio... then again, it would have helped if we had shown her where the push-button was. Oops.

 

We were lucky to catch a few cautions when we were in our pit windows. The pitstops were great.  Everyone had their task which resulted in fairly calm and organized chaos.  No issues, no hiccups, no extra time lost. (which is more than pretty much everyone else can say!! -Costas)

 

The crazy thing about watching the whole race was the number of times and the frequency at which we got passed, yet we remained at the top of the scoring sheets.  "Asshat in ___(car)___ coming up fast"  "Jerk in __(car)__ on your bumper"  "Dumbass __(car)___ driver coming up on your six".  Our drivers didn't force the issue with these guys, just moved over and let them take themselves out of the race.  Outstanding patience from our guys and girl.  Endurance racing? Yeah, we can do that.

 

Nick, Todd and Hunter wait for Todd's first stint. 

2nd driver is out, Todd goes in. Oil topped off, fuel filled up, wheels/tires checked, let's GO GO GO!

Todd in his office for the next 2 hours and 45 minutes. Drink tube on top door bar of cage. 

Todd cruising under yellow.

 

 

Costas:

Well, back to me. Seems like a lot of the story has been told, but I think I can add a few snippets to let our dear readers capture a bit of the ambiance that was the Texas LeMons race. Random thoughts:

1.  I WAS ready to quit. Ready to load the car up and go home Friday afternoon when we failed tech. I had been working on the car pretty steady for the previous 3 weeks in between fever/sore throats that I could not seem to shake. I was exhausted and out of optimism. Had Hunter, Wade, et al not started pulling the cell out I would have simply loaded and left. It isn't very often I quit anything since I always try to follow through, but dang, I was stick-a-fork-in-me-DONE.

2. Frank's welding of the cell was awesome. Yes, we used metal from the side of the house that looked ugly, but his installation was very nice. The cell was higher than the one in Scratcher (my GT1 car) yet we were told it was 'poorly designed, poorly fabricated, and poorly welded'. I sure wish they had folks doing tech who could look at welds and know what they are looking at.

3. MFW talking to me as we worked for about half an hour on ONE (of four) cell mounting post, trying to grind, cut and bang it out of the car. The tech-tard had been cruising by occasionally and MFW had no idea who he was. MFW (a real racer who knows what stuff is when he looks at it) had heard the whole story and as the tech-tard walked up and stood and watched, MFW very loudly proclaimed "Oh yeah, that piece is BARELY IN THE CAR, it is PRACTICALLY FALLING OUT and TOTALLY UNSAFE" in a very loud sarcastic tone. The tech-tard turned, dropped head, and walked away. MFW never even realized he was there! Everyone who knows what they are doing (racers) saw the install as fine. There is so much more to the tech story, but honestly just ask one of us in person. I'm not going to go further, but when we finally got the tubes out, the welds didn't fail, the posts took metal from the frame with them. We vindicated ourselves with our performance. Nuff said.

4. Going out on track Saturday first stint and being amazed at the car count (75) and sheer distance that the line of cars took up. We hesitated going green for 10 minutes as random cars died and were stranded on course as we circled under yellow. At that time, I told myself that a top 15 finish would pretty much be a complete victory.

5. To look out the right mirror, I had to rotate my head till the helmet hit the HANS limiters and then look out the very corner of my eye to see it. Annoying.

6. For us to make 452 laps with no spins, no offs, no black flags, no penalties and no unscheduled stops is simply amazing. I'm not sure if any other car did that, but I doubt it.

7. The carb on the engine was never quite right and got worse as the weekend went on. We were all using maybe 25-40% throttle at most and just driving as smooth and quick as we could and carrying speed as best as possible. Part of me wonders how much better a good carb would have been, and the other part tells me that we'd have had problems related to more power had we actually had the power.

8. At the end of the day of Saturday, Todd was in the car. We thought the day was over at 1800 and Todd had been in the car since 1545. When I found out we went till 1830, Gary called Todd and told him the news. I was pretty sure Todd would give Gary an earful of bitching. When told he had another 30 minutes, Todd said 'Oh HELL YEAH!!'. Sweet.

9. Having Cody or Hunter tighten your top straps on top of the HANS pretty much ensures that you aren't going anywhere. At all. Ever. I've got the bruises, but loved the leverage the immobility gave me.

10. Letting go of the steering wheel. Several times a lap. It is a manual steering car with a lot of castor and so you turn the wheel and when you need to straighten up, you just let go. Since there are a few 'S' turns, you just let it go to center and keep going and stop it when it lines up. So you turn the wheel, release, it spins, you grab, hold for a few seconds, then let go, it spins, you grab it again, etc. I giggled. Out loud. Each. Lap.

11. Anna and a sticker box and watch out. I'm just sayin.

12. Barbie went topless for day two!

13. For very little ontrack experience, Anna did PHENOMINAL. No joke. It was awesome. The first place and third place finishers were all experienced roadracers. Ours drove like it!

14. There were at least 16 cars with faster laps than our best. Too bad (for them) this wasn’t an autocross. Heh heh heh

15. The refueling area was awash with everyone's fuel jugs with notes and stickers on them. Ours were simply tied together with string bikinis. Effective and perfect.

16. Hunter, thanks for letting us use your watch to put in the car. It helped a ton. First time I put a driver in the car it was 1345 and I pointed at the watch and said 'Don't come in till it says 1545!' Heh.

17. Todd says the most random things on the radio when he is bored. Cereally.

18. At the driver's meeting, the officials asked folks to raise their hand if they had never done wheel-to-wheel and it created a freaking breeze there were so many of them. I kinda got woozy (since I was starting the race)

19. Per #18, there was some SERIOUS asshattery driving going on. Thankfully, most all of the primary offenders hurt themselves with penalties and offs so it likely balanced out. Usually I would just step over and let the idiots through. Within a few laps they were being black-flagged or flat-towed back to the pits. Jackasses.

20. Bubble goggles and a bikini make Hunter kinda…err….nevermind.

21. I can sleep in the car waiting to go on track. Still. 

22. At one point I passed three cars in a row that had a pig, a chicken and some rabbits welded to their roof. It was kinda comical.

23. In the late afternoon sun, our car kinda blends into the track. Really.

24. Seeing people spin 'Sarah Palin' on the penalty wheel and having to run around the paddock in race gear with a toy rifle trying to 'hunt' (find) a hidden stuffed bear!

25. The car's brakes were incredible the whole time. It drove straight and gripped very well. No issues other than carb/power. 

   

The SLAAB team. All kinds of troubles for them, but they were helpful and friendly. 

Hunter, Nick and Beavis. No comment on Hunter. 

Our car is directly above the nose of the second car in line at the outside of the carousel. 

At the end of day1, the car gets a thorough look over!

Gary: "Yep, it's leaking oil!"

Wade bleeding brakes. They were perfect all weekend. 

Anna telling folks to hurry so we can go eat! :-P

Costas...asleep waiting to eat at Chili's. 

DAY TWO. And....err....Costas is asleep waiting to go on track. Sheesh...the boy sleeps ANYwhere...

 

Beavis staying true to his tire job and fixing the wagon. I don't bring bolt boxes for nothing!!

 

 

It was INDEED a great weekend with racing and friends. All the better that we did so well. Huge thanks to everyone that made this work, especially to the team who didn't let me quit.

 

As well as the weekend went, sadly when I went to work on Monday, I (and four others at my work) were laid off. Ug. Not good. Anyone hiring? Keep your eyes out for me please. Not sure what I'm going to do or if I'm going to stay in San Antonio....kinda weird. Blech.

   

The Audi boys getting a chicken welded on their hood. 

The 'Wayne's World' winning car. The dude looks like Garth.....seriously. 

Barbie went TOPLESS on day two!!!

Gorgeous weather for the Saturday and Sunday. 

 

Why yes, that is a toilet paper dispenser welded to the front fender. Shitty driving. 

 

Done. 

 

At least 8 cars in the penalty box. Hard to win when you aint makin laps...

 

Front of driveshaft hitting the ground. Wonder if the local NAPA has u-joints for old BMWs?

 

The Audi boys spun 'Obama' and changed themes. Nice. 

 

People's Curse. No, we didn't think they were cheating, but buying a running miata for 450 is a bit of a stretch. 

 

The penalty wheel that drivers who got a black flag got to spin. 

 

Traffic!

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our Lap Chart:

 

Laps

1-44 Costas best of stint: 1:23.494

started 13th, finished 3rd

 

45-111 Driver best of stint 1:24.676

started 14th, finished 4th

 

112-206 Todd best of stint 1:21.481

started 5th, finished 2nd

 

DAY TWO:

 

207- 276 costas best of stint 1:20.506

led laps 210-252, 272-275

started 2nd, finished 1st

 

277-356 driver best of  weekend for WDMS/BR: 1:19.170 on lap 296

(chicane was damaged, drivers got to go straight for a handful of laps!)

started 2nd, finished 2nd

 

357- 447 Todd best of stint: 1:22.249

started 2nd, finished 2nd

 

448-452 Anna best of stint: 1:31.879

started 2nd, finished 2nd.

(this is awesome as in the test day, Anna's fastest

was a 1:38.xxx!!)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

That is NOT the way to take the chicane!!

 

Anna bringing the car home (wore Costas' helmet for the radio hookups)!! WE FINISHED!!!

 

Our 2nd place hardware!!

 

What brings us all together!

 

 

THANKS CREW!!! COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!!!

 

 

 

And now we are to the end, so if you are still awake and want to see more, here ya go!

 

http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=-erEi6l4CWo <-- Anna's BikiniRacer YouTube wrapup!! 

 

http://jalopnik.com/5068983/ <--Scroll down to the ole #7 blue third gen!!

 

Nick's pictures: http://www.fototime.com/inv/4FA32A7C29AED53

 

Cody's pictures: http://cases.smugmug.com/gallery/6324015_N7NcG - 398766605_CtujX

 

Beavis' pictures: http://profile.imageshack.us/user/rivasc/images

 

Another team's link: http://audi400.blogspot.com/ (our buddies in the #4 Audi!)

 

The winning team's link: http://teamschwing.com/

 

Jalopnik Links: (there are more on their website, these'll get you started)

http://www.autofiends.com/index.php/2008/10/great-moments-in-texas-lemons-judging-part-1/

http://jalopnik.com/5066285/the-top-70-lemons-of-the-24-hours-of-lemons-texas

http://jalopnik.com/5065698/24-hours-of-lemons-texas-winner-team-schwing-toyota-corolla-fx16

http://jalopnik.com/5065571/24-hours-of-lemons-texas-day-one-corolla-leads-detroit-iron-3-of-top-5

http://s232.photobucket.com/albums/ee291/whiltebeitel/LeMons%2010-19-08/?start=all

 

Track action from the Audi boys

http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=jQw-QTF2q8U

 

Formula M (Dallas fox-body team) pics:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25041948@N06/

 

Search YouTube for '24 lemons texas' and you'll see a TON of vids!!

 

Questions? Comments? Shoot me an email…