24 Hours of LeMons: 'Good Effort Grand Prix' at Sonoma Raceway preview

This weekend marks the start of the 2015 24 Hours of LeMons season at Sonoma Raceway with the “Good Effort Grand Prix,” a late addition to the 2015 calendar  as a means of accommodating those who were bumped from other Sonoma races due to entry-number restrictions at the popular Bay Area track. As we covered last fall, this year’s LeMons schedule closely resembles last season’s, although the addition of a January race means this is the first LeMons season since 2010 with a race in each month.
This is also the first of three Sonoma races this season and because it’s likely to be Gulag-cold, the entry list size should be around half of the normal 180-car field. The race will run Sunday and Monday with a charity track walk Saturday morning before that afternoon’s BS and Tech Inspections. Make the jump for a quick rundown of the field and the race.



As these previews have evolved, I’ve started to make them less work by just highlighting a small segment of cars from the unofficial entry list (which you see here).  The division of classes in LeMons is less bourgeois-proletarian and more…well, I guess it’s pretty bourgeois-proletarian. Whatever. The classes are decided at the track during BS Inspection with the cars tossed into Class A (Cars of sporting pedigree or capability, “The Good”), Class B (Cars that might actually finish the race, “The Bad”), and Class C (Hopeless and probably never intentioned to see a track, “The Ugly”).
As Class C is the provenance of True LeMons Grit and usually home to the winner of the coveted Index of Effluency, let’s examine the cars I’d expect to end up in that  class first.
#0 Spank the Builder (Austin Mini Moke, above) – That rascally Spank returns again for another round of mischief in his skeletal Moke. Will it be re-themed? Tune in to find out.
#15 Team Apathy (Honda N600) – As profoundly prolific Hooniverse commenter mdharrel pointed out in the comments of Part Two of the Hooniverse 2014 Season Wrap, that a mid-engine, turbocharged-Saab-powered Honda 600 can be considered a perfectly average LeMons car is reason enough to love the series.
#215 Zerobelow (Chevy Corvair) – A team that desperately hopes painting penguins in an Antarctic scene on their car will keep their ill-advised V8 swap from overheating. If it actually runs, this team should find itself in a fierce(ly slow) Index of Effluency battle with the Team Apathy Saanda.
#37 Team-ing With Additional Bad Ideas (Austin Mini, above) – Having finally given up on their terrible Beetle, this tearm are nowteam-ing with additional…well…you get the idea.
#181 The GMObiles (Chevy El Camino) – El Camino is Spanish for “Not going to try spelling ‘Camaro.’”
#191 Aqua Volvo (Volvo 240) – I’m not positive, but I suspect this is a re-theming of the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better” early Volvo sedan, which was the slowest Volvo 240 I’ve yet encountered.
#907 Old Crows B (Jensen Healey) – Speak in whispers and avoid eye contact. The twin-cam Lotus 907 engine explodes if it gets too excited.


In LeMons, Class B is sort of a catch-all for cars that are neither completely absurd on a racetrack nor high-performance road racers. As such you get a tremendous variety of machinery in the middle class, everything from Volkswagen Rabbits to Mercedes Luxobarges. Because I’m pressed for time, let’s play a word association with the teams I’d expect to find relatively competitive in the class.
#13 Team 5150 (Datsun 240Z, above) – Bud Cort.
#3, #7, #9, and #11 New York Rock Exchange (Ford Focus, VW Rabbit, VW Scirocco, Honda Del Sol) –  Yodeadodoyodeadodoyodeadodoyodeadodo yodeadodoyodeadodoyo-bab-baaaaa (Focus).
#19 Thunderchicken Extra Crispy Racing (Ford Thunderbird) – Supercharged V6.
#92 Back to the Crapper (Toyota MR2) – Accurate name.
#171 Old Crows A (Ford Mustang) – Homonym.
#222 As Seen on TV Racing (Kia Rio, above) – Kia Pet Rock.
#245 Bernal Dads Racing (Volvo 245) – The real Ziegel Scheisshaus
#282 and #484 Pinewood Dirtbags (Chevy Luv) – Iluvtoluvyourluvmyluv.
#285 Ecurie Ecrappe (Alfa Romeo Spider) – Dent removal apoplexy.
#386 Surf Bums (BMW E28, above) – Depreciation.
#908 EASY 908/14 (Porsche 914, ABA swapped) – Better than a 944, probably.
#911 Hella Sh****y Racing (Porsche 911 TDI swapped) – Carrera der Schlepper.
#90 Hella Kitty (Subaru Impreza) – Colloquialism.


Because this is a race meant to allow entry to some cars that have been bumped from the over-subscribed Sonoma Raceway weekends, there should be a glut of Class A entries and, indeed, that is the case. Of the 95 cars on the entry list, 24 of them wear the BMW roundel. That doesn’t mean we like them any less, though, does it?  Let’s see what we’re dealing with in the skirmish for LeMons (Kind of) Glory.
#147 Yet Another Sh***y E30 (BMW E30, above) – This seems like a good place to start.
#5 Hella Sh***y Racing (BMW E30) – In the season recap, this team’s BMW was the single best-performing car of 2014. Wait, that was the team’s other E30, the one with the stock M20 engine.
#186 The Faustest Team (BMW E30) – The Faustest Team was actually the best-performing 2014 car that wasn’t part of a multicar team. If that sounds like a caveat, it is. LeMons success is predicated entirely on caveats.
#553 Eyesore Racing (Mazda Miata) – Five-time winners who, despite several close calls, haven’t won since 2012. This should be their best chance to win with no other repeat winners in the field.
#558 42 Hours of MeLons (Volvo 245) – After a close win in Class B last month, this normally aspirated Volvo may be taking a brick to an analogy that I’m incapable of completing.
#1 Mr. Donuts (BMW E36 M3) – The notorious M3 should totally lay waste to the entire field with only 95 entries and therefore, lots of open track. Actually, that won’t happen. This car will be lucky to crack the top 80.
#383 Pinewood Dirtbags (BMW E36 M3/Chevy Luv, above) – This is how you should bring an M3 to LeMons: Graft a bunch of old Chevy Luv body panels onto a Bimmer whose rear was crushed in an accident.
#647 Hit and Run Racing (Mazda RX-7) – V8 swap? Check. Eye-melting orange paint? Check. Well, I guess that just about covers it. Domination here, too.
#528 The Sharks (BMW E28) – One of the long-running crazy teams in LeMons has some kind of junkyard turbo mounted on their 5-Series. That has clearly helped them achieve their particular brand of mediocrity.
#17 Too Stupid to Know Better (Volvo 740) – The first Redblock-powered Volvo to win a race, just edging out the Model T GT at Miller Motorsports Park last year.
#200, #400, #924 OLD Fast Auto Race Team & Sons (Audi 200, Audi 400, Porsche 924S) – Three fast, unreliable cars. Utter domination awaits.
#33 Expendable (BMW E30) – No E30s won in LeMons last year; I suspect this could be the car to break that streak.
#32 Pistola Alto (Nissan 300ZX) – This car is fully capable of running two hours without blowing up, as the team won the two-hour sprint race at Sonoma last year. I’m not sure that helps them in a longer race, though.
#10 SchtuffNZPants (BMW E36) – This car has, almost without fail, stormed out to the lead (or close to it) in several races, only to have their weekend end within the first 90 minutes.
#75 Scuderia Limoni (Alfa Romeo Milano, above) – This Milano won a race a long time ago on the other side of the country and occasionally threatens the front of the field. Not that it matters; the defining characteristic of crapcan Alfas is that they sound an order of magnitude better than anything else in the field.
#144 Mutter Fokker Motorsports (BMW E30) – Fun fact: Anthony Fokker, designer of the famed German World War I fighter planes, was actually Dutch.
#158 Flying Scotsmen (BMW E30) – If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!
#415 D.A.R.E. (BMW E36) – That no E36 has ever won LeMons remains puzzling to me. Plenty of capable people have run them, but no wins yet.
#111 Big Test Icicles (Acura Integra) – The proverbial “perfectly capable Integra” that is present at any given LeMons race but never wins.
#695 Team Black Bird (Chevy Camaro) – 1976: America celebrates its bicentennial by producing this mean burnout machine. 2015: Said mean burnout machine wheezes at the thought of wide-open throttle.
#96 Culo a la Quiebra Carreras (Toyota Supra) – Translates to “The Supra is a perennial disappointment for those who race it.”
Here is some more information that may or may not be relevant.

Some mildly important information
Event name Good Effort Grand Prix
Saturday  (Local Time) John’s March Against Cancer, 9 a.m.; Inspections, Noon to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday Race (Local Time) 10:00 a.m. to Dusk
Monday Race (Local) 9:00 a.m. to Dusk
LeMons Lap Record 1:56.6 Off the Scale (Mazda RX-7)
Overall Winners 2010 – Eyesore Racing (Mazda Miata)
2011 – POS Racing (BMW E30)
2011 – Model T GT (Ford Model T-ish)
2012 – Eyesore Racing (Mazda Miata)
2013 – If It’s Not Punk It’s Junk (BMW E34)
2013 One-Day – Cerveza Racing (BMW E28)
2013 – Porch Racing (Porsche 944)
2014 Sprint – Pistola Alto (Nissan 300ZX)
2014 – Porch Racing (Porsche 944)
2014 – Porch Racing (Porsche 944)
Class B Winners 2010 – Filthy Faux GT40 (Ford Escort ZX2)
2011 – Team Harlequin (Volkswagen Golf)
2011 – OLD Fast Racing Team and Sons (Audi 4000)
2012 – Sierra Auto Recycling (Ford Crown Victoria)
2013 – The Flyin’ Hawaiians & 2 White Guys (Datsun 260Z)
2013 One-Day – Dirty Duck Racing (Volkswagen Rabbit)
2013 – Panting Polard Bear Racing (Ford Crown Victoria)
2014 Sprint – Team Prestige (Mercedes C230)
2014 – Hella Sh***y Racing (Volkswagen Beetle)
2014 – 42 Hours of MeLons (Volvo 245)
Class C Winners 2010 – San Diego Minis (Austin Mini)
2011 – Team Tinyvette (Opel GT)
2011 – Team Last Minute (Dodge Colt)
2012 – The Hasselhoffs (Toyota Paseo)
2013 – The Flaming A-Holes (Jaguar XJ12)
2013 One-Day – Spank’s Mini (Austin Mini)
2013 – Miami Vice (BMW 850i)
2014 Sprint – Hella Sh***y Racing (Volkswagen Beetle)
2014 – Pinewood Dirtbags (Chevy LUV)
2014 – The Black Flags (Toyota Supra)
Index of Effluency Winners 2010 – Air Prance (Citroen D Special)
2011 – Team Tinyvette (Opel GT)
2011 – Soccer Moms (Plymouth Voyager)
2012 – Oly Express (Plymouth Valiant)
2013 – The Flaming A-Holes (Sunbeam Imp)
2013 One-Day – Spank’s Mini (Austin Mini)
2013 – The AMCI Starletans
2014 Sprint – Hella Sh***y Racing (Volkswagen Beetle)
2014 – Panting Polar Bear Racing (Rambler Classic)
2014 – Rustang (Ford Mustang)

[Photo: Murilee Martin]

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2 responses to “24 Hours of LeMons: 'Good Effort Grand Prix' at Sonoma Raceway preview”

  1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    "As these previews have evolved, I’ve started to make them less work by just highlighting a small segment of cars from the unofficial entry list (which you see here)." Except you can't.
    Also, +1 for the Focus reverence!

  2. Bret Dodson Avatar

    Damn. Wish I was there. Have fun all! Instead of racing, I'm going to watch football (Go Seahawks!), drink, eat tasty food, and drink.