24 Hours of LeMons: 'Gator-O-Rama' (Houston) preview

Just a few weeks ago, we noted in our 24 Hours of LeMons South Fall preview that the series has visited Carolina Motorsports Park more than any other track with 1 races there. The next-most is 11 races at MSR Houston, which the series will visit this weekend to make an even dozen for Gator-O-Rama. Texas races seem to draw tremendously unpredictable weather with everything from lightning and gales to blizzard conditions interrupting races.
Early-week forecasts suggest some rain, but the big weather story is likely to be high temperatures in the 50s and 60s for the weekend. I won’t belabor the point or beleaguer you, the reader, any more than I have to. Follow the jump for the race preview or, if you’re the kind who isn’t high on others’ opinions, see the unofficial entry list here.



Lately, it seems like readers have enjoyed brevity in these previews, even if it’s a few words on a lot of different cars. So we’ll stick with a formula that sort-of works. As always, classing is done at the track so these are only my opinions on where teams may land in the classing scheme, but it’s all subject to change the whims of LeMons Supreme Court.
Class C—which typically represents cars extremely unlikely to finish a motor race—should be pretty entertaining at this particular race. This is definitely the kind of class field where attrition will be the deciding factor. The team that breaks the least often and is fixed fastest will emerge victorious.
#96 Hoonatic Racing (Datsun Fairlady, above) – LeMons’ first and only all-electric racecar is actually about to run its third race. Its previous iteration could run three or four laps and then needed to charge for three hours. This time around, the team are working (to the last second) on a homebuilt supercharger for the battery and possibly even a battery upgrade. Look for a new, Hooniverse-approved theme on this car if you’re at MSR. (It’s not an Electric ‘ladyLand theme, unfortunately, but it is good).
#0 Despicable Racing (Volkswagen Transporter) – I know nothing about this entry, but a racing VW Transporter— even if it’s just panels affixed to a different car—will always be fantastic.
#34 Team Buckaroo (Volkswagen Baja Bug) -This team’s former Class C winning Baja Bug received a Volkswagen ABA engine in much the same way that Hannibal’s enemies “received” an elephant. Surely, this time it will dominate.
#59 Apex Vinyl TX (Pontiac Montana) – This team’s main vehicle for many years was a six-wheeled Toyota Hilux and they also onceattempted to race a non-cooperative Montana. Whichever car they bring, expect it to be awesome.
#215 United America Wrenchers (Austin America) – LeMons legend Spank and local Brit Peter Barrett cobbled this America together during last year’s 24-hour race out of three crappy Americas dug out of a Texas field. What could possibly go wrong?
#13 Escape Velocity Racing (Dodge Dart) – The Slant Six is a tough mill in crapcan racing. This car won Index of Effluency—LeMons’ top prize—at MSR last year and should be in the hunt for a class win, which is apparently rocket science.
#52 Braking Wind Racing (Porsche 914, above) – 914s might be the most reliable Porsches in LeMons, until you drop in a water-cooled engine, which this team appear to have done with a Subaru EJ engine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
#79 Ratsun Racing (Datsun B210) – This Datsun features a butt-ugly body kit, which has never helped it turn laps. It is one of many cars in this field with double-digit lap counts in multiple races, though it appears to have gotten a fresh KA24 swap.
#75 The Resistance (Honda Civic) – It’s a first-year Honda Civic, so it will be painfully, painfully slow. This team spent much of their debut weekend replacing a head gasket in finger-numbing weather. So goes the life of Class C racers.
#107 The Syndicate (Mercedes 450SEL) – Only able to use a sliver of this Teutonic luxury barge’s power at Eagles Canyon this spring because of a worn camshaft, the Syndicate’s big Merc nevertheless paraded to an IOE. With a few more ponies available, this show horse could be a Class C favorite.
#608 Speedy Monzalez (Chevy Monza) – This Monza outran the Class C competition at ECR this spring, including a pretty significant drubbing of the Syndicate’s Merc. It’s certainly not a fast car and would be hopeless in Class B.
#100 Team Radicus (Buick Century) – You know what’s great about a 1996 Buick Century? It’s essentially the exact same Buick Century that GM designed and built in 1982, except with a little more power out of the bored-out 60-degree V6. These Century drivers are first-timers and these A-Bodies are wretched cars that just won’t die. What a combination!
#68 Swamp Shack Maniacs (Honda Prelude) – This car’s build was famously attempted at the track and never finished. It came back several years later at Barber this spring and turned exactly 11 laps. This is one of those cars where you’re not sure it will ever do better.


LeMons’ middle class tends to be a catch-all for cars with mediocre performance envelopes or for fast cars with absolutely horrific reliability records. Theoretically, some of these could potentially win outright, but the traditional name for this class was once “Prayer of Finishing.” As with Class C, this usually comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes or breaks least often.
#888 Rookie Texting While Racing (Honda Prelude, above) – The Prelude disappeared off the LeMons map for a long time, but a second-place overall and Class B for the Car Wars Prelude in Colorado this year could maybe start a resurgence for the ne’er-done-well Honda.
#557 Texas Gasholes (Ford Mustang) – The Gasholes are one of many staple Gulf Coast teams, many of whom run Fox Body Mustangs, none of which have won a Texas race in more than five years.
#70 Tetanus Racing A (Dodge Neon) – Harmless.
#102 Piston Broke Racing (Mitsubishi Eclipse) – Won Class C at the 24-hour race at MSR last year and are capable of taking a win in B. The crapcan Diamond Star Motors product is for the LeMons who enjoys skirting the fine line between folly and bravery.
The Oktoberfesters (BMW E12) – One of very few teams to finish in the Top 10 in their first race last year in Houston, also finishing a distant second in class. There were, however, not at all fast.
#511 and #48 Inglorious Bastards (Ford Thunderbird, above, and Ford Pinto) – One of those teams you can’t help but cheer on. Their MSD-Injection, Car-and-Driver-replica Pinto was at Gingerman and it’s a stunningly…interesting car.
#46 Assmasters Racing (Ford Mustang II) – Scroll down a bit and you’ll see this nicely set up Mustang II holds the MSR lap record. It may very well run in Class A, but it will almost certainly fall short of winning the race. Because it’s a Mustang II.
#917 Der Porschelump (Porsche 944) – Hooniverse commenter, Porsche-phile, and Jalopnik writer Stef Schrader captains this team of lovable underdogs in a heartwarming tale (which you can probably read later on Black Flag) that stars farts and food and racecar stuff.
#22 and #24 TGTW Offroad Racing (Jeep Comanche and Toyota Corolla) – This is actually a three-car team with the team’s Cherokee probably running in Class A after a Class B win earlier this year (and a Class C win for the Comanche last year). They’ll add a Corolla—hopefully an All-Trac to keep with the Offroad theme—to their stable.
#47 Wine O Racing (Toyota Solara) – It’s a slow and steady Toyota Camry coupe.
#7 Newman’Z Ode Racing (Datsun 240Z) – The first of several amazing Z-Car team names.
#44 Ron BurganZ Racing (Datsun 280ZX) – I’m not even mad at this team name.
#36 Scuderia Ignorante (Toyota Tercel) – This rental-grade, geologically slow (Mmmm…that doesn’t make any sense…) Tercel once dominated Class C at Houston before these poor saps got suckered into buying it. Now they’re stuck with a Class B, 80-horsepower Tercel.


The top class in LeMons can be surprisingly capable road racers and teams answer the call for potential domination in many different forms. Some elect to run big American V8s while others take smaller-displacement tacts. Some want to run clean, efficient races while others just want to make their cars scoot and watch the world burn. Let’s take a look at who to watch in the top class.
#110 and #171 Property Devaluation Racing (Ford Grenada, above, and Ford Thunderbird) – Word on the street is that this team’s garage is strewn with Fox Body detritus and the team captain builds racecar by lining up all of the same parts next to each other and taps each one with a mallet. The part with the best tympanic response goes on the race car.
#986 and #72 Tetanus Racing (Porsche 944 and BMW E30) – Belgium.
#121 A Team (Mazda Miata) – The A-Team is one of those completely played-out themes that teams insist on doing. Unless this Miata is Mr. T, then the only way to make this interesting is to have Mr. T drive the racecar.
#10 The A-Team (Mazda RX-7) – Hey, look. It’s another crappy A-Team theme at the same race just to prove that this theme is totally played out.
#33 50 Shades of Rust (Nissan 300ZX) – “…his hands searched for my release. ‘They’re hood pins,’ I panted. I gasped as my hood lurched upward, propped with the pine 2×4 Roger had made for me so many—too many—years ago. His fingers twisted my filler cap and I was suddenly being filled with quarts and quarts of 20-weight.”
#18 Blew Bayou (BMW E30) – Here’s an efficient and perfectly precise E30 to calm you down after that last entry.
#31 Shelia and the Sheikhs (Ford Mustang) – This Mustang has been around LeMons in Texas forever. Will it win? Not a chance. So what? If they keep coming back, they must be doing something wrong in the right ways.
#5 Dogecar Spelled Backward is Racegod (Dodge Stealth) – Of all the team names in LeMons, none has every caused me to question so very many things.
#881 Team Toxic Waste (Pontiac Firebird, above) – This will inevitably beat out the 10 or so Fox Bodies Ford in the field.
#239 Norfolk & Chance (Acura Integra) – A clean, capable team that could surprise a few people. I seem to write that at least once or twice every preview and then, when editing, I make a mental note to change it. I usually can’t think of anything else to write so it stays. It usually seems to be an Integra, too. Always an Integra.
#77 Team Sensory Assault (Mazda RX-7) – Make no bones about it: These guys aren’t trying to win. And with the bridgeported and turbocharged 13B in this charred FD, they will burn 15 gallons of gas in an hour, preventing them from winning. But good lord will this thing fly and that’s more fun than winning anyway.
#67 TARP Racing (BMW E36) – The longtime campaigners of the Simca-clad Toyota MR2 will debut a new, floppy-chassis convertible BMW at this race. The theme, we hear, will be excellent.
#12 and #51 Cajun Coonasses dba Mick Jaguar (Saturn SL2 and Saturn SC2) – This might be the most capable Saturn team in crapcandom, which is probably as much a condemnation of the General Motors throwaway cars as anything else I might otherwise say.
#262 Vermont Bert-One (Volvo 262 Bertone Coupe) – I believe this car is heading back to California for the winter from its home in Vermont. This year, the 262 has raced in every region except the South. It’s always in the thick of things, but it might be a bit overmatched against the last five listed here.
#50 Lost in the Dark (Ford Fairmont Futura) – These guys have always been competitive with their Miata, but the Fairmont struggles to finish races. Nevertheless, this is a properly fast Fox Body.
#23 Team Blue Goose (Audi 4000, above) – I once thought this would be the first Audi to win a LeMons race after a couple of second-place finishes, but they were beat to the punch this year, finally. It’s very likely to be in the Top 5 at the end of Sunday.
#41 Rolling Chicane Racing (Honda Civic) – A very quiet, unassuming Civic that could steal one if it rains.
#28 Team Shocker (Acura Integra) – A well-prepared Integra like this one is a great LeMons car, but they somehow seldom seem to win. What’s up with that? See also: Perfectly capable car.
#42 Mostly Harmless Racing (Mercury Capri XR2) – This could potentially be the first car to win Class C, Class B, and Overall. The Capri is a shockingly fast car (thanks in no small part to an experienced set of drivers); it set the fastest lap of the last MSR race, outpacing even the 300-horsepower Sensory Assault RX-7.
#333 Pulp Friction (BMW E30) – An all-or-nothing team. They won a 24-hour race and then, two races later, got kicked out of the race for massive (and poorly fixed) fuel leaks. If everything’s running smoothly, this is a fast, tough team to beat.
#880 Back to the Past (Nissan 300ZX) – Back to the Past have already won twice this year. They won’t be the fastest, but they will probably be the most consistent.
#92 Model T GT and the Pinto Bean Bandits (Ford Model T, above) – The mishmash of things from the Ford parts bin mated to a Model A frame is probably, on its own merits, the most capable LeMons car ever built. As it is a rental racecar this year, however, its success depends entirely on who is operating it for a given weekend.
#58 Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX) – This Z has three race wins and three class wins at MSR, plus another win at LeMons’ only race at Texas World Speedway. It would be tough to bet against them if bookies took bets on LeMons (They don’t).

Some mildly important information
Event page Gator O Rama
About the track
Saturday Session (EST) 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday Session (EST) 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
LeMons Lap Record (Short Course) 1:14.0 (Los Gringos Locos, Acura Integra)
LeMons Lap Record (Full Course) 1:54.5 (Assmasters Racing, Ford Mustang)
Overall Winners 2008 – The Schwing Team (Toyota Corolla FX16)
  2009 – Formula M for Mullet (Ford Mustang)
  2009 – Race Hard Race Ugly (BMW E30)
  2010 – Red Rocket Ratnest Revival (Ford Taurus SHO)
  2010 – Mid-Drive Crisis (Mitsubishi Mirage)
  2011 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
  2011 – Team BenzGay (Mercedes 300E)
  2011 – SHOtime (Ford Taurus SHO)
  2012 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
  2013 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
Class B Winners 2008 – 8NSK8 (Honda Accord)
  2009 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
  2009 – Speed Racer Y’all (Saturn SC2)
  2010 – Never Give Up (BMW 1600)
  2010 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
  2011 – Z-Wrecks (Datsun 280ZX)
  2011 – MetroSexual (Geo Metro)
  2011 – Time Travelers of Doom (Pontiac Fiero)
  2012 – Team Blue Goose (Audi 4000)
  2013 – Frankenstein Motorworks (Honda Accord)
Class C Winners 2008 – The Professionals at Having Fun (Ford Ranger)
  2009 – Half-Assed Safety Fast (Infiniti Q45)
  2009 – Rust Pirate Racing (Chevy Camaro)
  2010 – Little Buccadillo (Volkswagen Baja Bug)
  2010 – Exhibition of Slow (Toyota Tercel)
  2011 – Exhibition of Slow (Toyota Tercel)
  2011 – Mostly Harmless Racing (Mercury Capri XR2)
  2011 – Exhibition of Slow (Toyota Tercel)
  2012 – TARP Racing (Simca 1000/Toyota MR2)
  2013 – Piston Broke Racing (Mitsubishi Eclipse)
Index of Effluency Winners 2008 – Never Give Up (BMW 1600)
  2009 – Opular Dependence (Opel GT)
  2009 – Black Knight Racing (Triumph TR7)
  2010 – LRE (Datsun 240Z)
  2010 – Seven Come Eleven (Volkswagen Fastback)
  2011 – Exhibition of Slow (Toyota Tercel)
  2011 – B-League Film Society (Mercedes 200)
  2011 – Apex Vinyl TX (Toyota Hilux)
  2012 – Team Green Cornet (Dodge Coronet)
  2013 – Escape Velocity Racing (Dodge Dart)

[Photos: Murilee Martin]

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16 responses to “24 Hours of LeMons: 'Gator-O-Rama' (Houston) preview”

  1. Stu_Rock Avatar

    Who here is going to be there? I'm fairly new to Houston, so I'm considering stopping by for a brief spectating visit. Unfortunately I can't stay for a long time because that weekend I'll be packing for a long trip back to California.

    1. cpchampion Avatar

      Come find the Tetanus pit and say hi again (we met at Buttonwillow). Crazymike and Anton will be with us some of the weekend too.

      1. Stu_Rock Avatar

        If I make it, I'll definitely stop by, Chris. I'm also looking forward to seeing Hoonatic's Datsun, which I was trying to get on board with before my schedule got totally screwed up.

    2. ninjacoco Avatar

      I come bearing Puffalumps! Err, Porschelump, anyway.
      Find the red 944 and say hi.

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I’m not racing, but I’ve lent my gear to someone for this race. My helmet, gloves, and suit will be racing with Team Radicus. Go Team Radicus!

  3. Nuclearspork Avatar

    For the century the extra displacement wasn't from boring out the block just a different stroke. So total Century domination.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      I'll confess, I wasn't going to go look up how GM got the extra 300 cc out of the block so I just guessed. Because journalism.
      This totally wasn't written at all the way that Spank and Peter and crew built the Austin America last year at MSR.

  4. cpchampion Avatar

    I'll have you know the Neon is MOSTLY harmless. And if you insist on bringing Belgium into the conversation I just might have to locate a cricket bat.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      There's already a Mostly Harmless, good sir. With all due respect, go stick your head in a pig.
      <img src="https://toulousestreet.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/dontpanic.jpg&quot; width="500">

      1. cpchampion Avatar

        Yes, indeed there is a Mostly Harmless team, several of whom have actually driven Tetanus cars. (Muddied water? Yup.) One of their drivers can regale you with tales of the two times the Neon tried to kill him at ECR. So if a harmless car attempts to kill a Mostly Harmless driver, I think there is some kind of transitive property of irony that makes the car mostly harmless.

  5. r_toaster Avatar

    I swear, someone was going to hand me something, saw the lead image and thought better of it. Well done sir!

  6. LTDScott Avatar

    Huh, Property Devaluation still has the Granada and T-Bird? Last I heard they were selling off their Fox Body collection and moving to another car (I won't spoil their surprise). I raced with them at a WRL event in Texas earlier this year, and I gotta say that Granada was way more fun and competent on the track than it has any right to be.
    I find it funny that the fastest speeds I have ever attained behind the wheel have been in a Ford Granada, Ford LTD, and Dodge Omni, in that order, and all were over 120.

  7. 75civic Avatar

    Team The Resistance thinks that the second "painfully" in "painfully, painfully slow" was somewhat gratuitous. And we blew a head gasket but numbed our fingers replacing the engine twice (clutch installed backward the first time). And there were at least two cars we passed consistently. – Futility, Revelry, Insolvency, The Resistance.

  8. marmer01 Avatar

    I think I'm coming on Saturday. I live close by and have never been to MSR, believe it or not.

  9. Dave Avatar

    I'm coming Saturday, too. I just hope it's after I'm out of my borrowed firesuit.

  10. marmer01 Avatar

    That's what she said.
    I did attend about 2-1/2 hours of the Class A race on Saturday. Pretty cool. It's like if the Houston Art Car Parade was a race.