24 Hours of LeMons: 'Good Effort Grand Prix' wrap-up

The 24 Hours of LeMons, better known as one of Hooniverse’s motorsports spirit animals, opened its 2015 season with at Sonoma Raceway a week ago for the “Good Effort Grand Prix.” LeMons held a race at Sonoma a month prior, but since several teams had to be cut from the entry list to accommodate limited space, the series held another event for those sorry teams that were cut. For the Official Winners Post, check out Murilee Martin’s probably more entertaining words.
For an anorak’s view of the race, make the jump to see how the winners won their respective races. And to get a bit of perspective on the two-day race, check out my post from seldom-updated crapcan blog after the first day to see how things shook out in comparison. And revisit the race preview to see how far off base I was.


Here’s a quick note on the chart(s) in this story. The word “stints” isn’t the standard endurance-racing definition of the word; instead, it describes the amount of time (in laps) between visits to the paddock, either for refueling and driver change or for a visit to the Penalty Box. Since it’s hard to track the movements of 90-something cars, it’s not always clear why the car is off the track. Nevertheless, to do well in endurance racing, you have to minimize time off the track so Penalty Box visits and so forth factor into the outcome as much as scheduled stops.
There’s not much else to add here; we’ll explain a bit below the chart.

Pos Team Laps # Stints Avg Stint (laps) Longest Stint (laps) Avg. Lap Fastest Lap Avg. Stop Time
1 Eyesore Racing 400 9 45.56 53 02:08.0 01:57.7 06:50.8
2 Depend 403 6 67.17 94 02:09.0 01:58.1 07:55.6
3 Hella Sh***y 388 8 46.25 92 02:12.1 02:02.0 07:01.7
4 Clergy MC 384 9 43.40 55 02:12.0 02:02.1 08:34.4
5 Too Stupid to Know Better 378 12 31.50 55 02:11.8 02:01.8 08:03.9
6 Will Race for Food 378 9 42.00 60 02:12.8 02:04.0 08:16.3
7 OLD Fast Auto Race Team & Sons 2 370 11 33.64 64 02:15.5 02:05.9 07:53.9
8 Team Black Bird 366 13 28.15 36 02:15.5 02:06.4 07:48.2

The astute observer will note that the Depend Porsche 944 actually completed more laps than the race-winning Eyesore Racing turbocharged Mazda Miata (above). After winning three consecutive races with their 944 (formerly known as the Porch Racing team), the heavy hand of the LeMons Supreme Court gave them three penalty laps to keep things fair. As it turns out, that was just about the right handicap, putting them just two minutes behind the race winners. Eyesore’s win was their sixth in LeMons but their first since 2012, which is the longest gap between wins for any LeMons team. Six also ties them with Hong Norrth for second-most wins, one behind Cerveza Racing’s seven.
If you want compare strategies, then it’s important to remember that Depend (above) ran more laps and while they were, on average, slower on the track and in the pit, they also made three fewer stops for driver changes. Long stints will get you far (as we’ll see in a bit), but you have to put in fast laptimes to make three to four hours in the car really count. The marathon 94-lap stint was bolstered by good laptimes in the Porsche, which suprisingly possesses incredible fuel economy at race pace. In the end, it was not quite enough to get ahead of Eyesore, who have probably turned as many laps in LeMons as just about any other team.
From the top pair, there’s a noticeable separation in terms of average lap time that translated to a huge gap in the standings. The Hella Sh***y BMW E30 (above) started the race’s second day P2, but two black flags set them back and lost the position. Those flags add to their number of “stints” in the above chart and decrease their average stint length, but the 92-lap marathon really tells the car’s capability. The four cars that run under the Hella Sh***y banner have, over time, become extremely competitive with three class wins and three Top 10 finishes over the last calendar year.
Elsewhere at the top of the field, Clergy MC recently traded in their Top 10-finishing Nissan NX2000 for a Miata (above), which claimed the team’s best finish. Former race winners Too Stupid to Know Better survived some severe Day Two attrition in the Top 10 finish 5th with their Volvo brick and regular Top 10 team the Old F.A.R.T.S. turned a (relatively) slow and steady race into another Top 10 for their Audi 200.
Most impressive there, however, is the Will Race for Food BMW E30, which was making its first foray into LeMons as far as I can determine. A P6 debut is nothing to scoff at. Team Black Bird’s ’76 Camaro (above) somehow, despite short stints and the slowest average lap time of the top Class A cars, scored an eight-place finish. For a car type known to be problematic in LeMons, that should be almost as good as a win.
After Day 1, positions four (D.A.R.E. BMW E36), five (Arrive and Drive Datsun 510),  six (Pistola Alto Nissan 300ZX), and seven (The Faustest Team BMW E30) all looked like they had an outside chance at competing for a win, but none of them finished the race well. Arrive and Drive didn’t turn a single lap on Day 2, D.A.R.E. only managed 50 laps, and Pistola Alto recovered from black-flag trouble to scavenge a P18 finish. The Faustest Team finish 29th overall.

Class B

We’ll move on to Class B, whose winner finished ninth overall in the standings.

PIC Team Laps # Stints Avg Stint Longest Stint Avg. Lap Fastest Lap Avg Stop Time
1 ONSET/Tetanus West 364 9 39.33 52 02:17.3 02:05.7 10:01.8
2 Hella Sh***y 357 7 51.00 69 02:21.0 02:12.3 11:32.0
3 John Galt Racing 352 11 31.64 51 02:14.2 02:04.9 12:16.0
4 Back to the Crapper 351 13 27.00 45 02:23.0 02:14.0 07:05.6

For most of the race, the class lead bounced back and forth between the ONSET Chevy Cavalier (above) and the John Galt BMW 2002 with the first day’s racing ending with the cars on the same lap. By mid-day Monday, the BMW’s pace had created a substantial gap despite shorter fuel duration, but it was all for naught. The John Galt car had some mechanical problems and ONSET didn’t.
That made for a second class win and Top 10 finish for the Cavalier, which was built,  owned, and transported to races in a box truck by multiple LeMons driver champion Anton Lovett. The Team 5150 Datsun 280Z (above, which featured a Jaguar E-Type bonnet and a LeMons-grade Harold and Maude E-Type hearse-wagon) was within striking distance most of the weekend, but the Z car rolled and its storied crapcan racing career will end as most crapcan racing careers do: In the junkyard.
Hella Sh***y Racing’s name crops up again here with the team running Ferkel the Nein-11, a Volkswagen TDI-powered Porsche 911. The thing sounds like a tractor and is far from fast, as the average lap times suggest, but it makes tremendous fuel mileage. In fact, a full fuel stint will outlast the drivers; they made an 84-second driver change because they didn’t need to fuel the car, which must be done with the car empty. How much of a difference does that make? Well, the Porsche finished second in class despite a visit to the tire wall on the outside of the esses with repairs requiring about 30 minutes and if you exclude that from their average stop times, they had the fastest average pit stop time by well over a minute.
Following that slow-but-steady method that works so well in LeMons and leads to occasional success for new teams, the Back to the Crapper Toyota MR2 essentially ran Class C pace for 15 hours and just barely missed a theoretical class podium. Why is it a theoretical class podium? Because a “class podium” is not a real thing in the 24 Hours of Lemons.
Remember in the preview when I said Kias did really well last year? That was clearly a commentator’s curse as the As Seen on TV Racing Kia Rio finished next-to-last in the standings.

Class C

At last, we arrive in Class C. It’s not really worth examining the whole class since long stop times throw all of the numbers to hell. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of amazing things to see within just the top three in class.

PIC Team Laps # Stints Avg Stint Longest Stint Avg. Lap Fastest Lap Avg Stop Time
1 Aqua Volvo 351 8 43.88 74 02:24.5 02:10.7 09:41.6
2 POS Angry Bird 353 9 40.33 52 02:13.5 02:02.7 15:48.6
3 Spank 325 6 54.17 130 02:36.1 02:23.1 09:55.2

As with the Overall win, the second position in Class C actually completed more laps. POS Angry Bird’s Datsun-Nissan-transition-era Nissan 200SX is generally a borderline Class B-Class C car so they started the race with three penalty laps. That made all the difference as they came in a lap behind the Aqua Volvo 242 (above). This was truly a battle of tortoise and hare with the early Volvo’s fastest lap a full eight seconds behind the Nissan’s, whose pace you can see was actually in the Class A realm.
Nevertheless, the inflated average stop time includes a 30-minute stop for repairs halfway through Sunday so Angry Bird (above) spent all of Sunday chipping at a 12-lap deficit to start day. One could always argue that the Nissan was mis-classed by the LeMons Supreme Court since it was so much faster than the rest of the class, but then again, it was penalized just enough so that it didn’t win. Maybe ol’ Murilee Martin knows what she’s doing, huh?
The really amazing thing in Class C, however, was Spank’s Austin Mini Moke (above). The oft-decorated Moke is its own freak show, but Spank dropped a 24-gallon fuel cell in it in the hope that the fuel-sipping 1275-cc Austin engine could run an entire day without stopping. And it nearly did.
Aside from a short stop 15 laps into Sunday’s session to bleed the clutch (or as team member Rich Chesavage said, “Keep it from taking a British Leyland”), the Moke ran an incredible 130 laps uninterrupted, although it ran out of gas just a couple minutes before the day’s checkered flag. That’s in the ballpark of six uninterrupted hours of racing by one driver. It’s impressive enough that the Moke ran for six consecutive hours so it should come as no surprise that Spank earned the Index of Effluency for his efforts.
Special mention should be made of the perennial tough-luck Team-Ing With Bad Ideas Austin Mini. The pugnacious Mini ended up fifth in class, which is an excellent result for a team whose Austin keeps getting better. Just ahead of them was the GMObiles, whose bone-stock 1970 Chevy El Camino (above) is hardly set up for road-racing but stil finished exactly in the middle of the field.
That’s all I wrote for the recap of this race. LeMons will return to Sonoma in March and again in December this year, but before then, the series will visit the hallowed grounds of Barber Motorsports Park in February. Check in for a preview of that race and, very likely, some coverage from a Hooniverse writer who will be racing there.
You find the full results of the Good Effort Grand Prix on MyLaps or on Specialty Timing.
[Photos: The Esteemed Murilee Martin]

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10 responses to “24 Hours of LeMons: 'Good Effort Grand Prix' wrap-up”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Did Spank race almost an entire day without new drivers, too? I get red, tired eyes just thinking about that possibility. Very cool vehicle!

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      Correct. He raced all of Sunday himself. He doesn't recommend it and won't be repeating it.

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        Didn't he do that once before? I want to say he did that for the Sears (Even More) Pointless one day race back in '13.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Amazing stunt. How much short was he? Lets say there is a wee bit of room for aerodynamic improvement here…but winning is not the #1 issue in LeMons, I get that much.

    2. Timothy Odell Avatar
      Timothy Odell

      Yup. All day on day 1.

    3. buzzboy7 Avatar

      God. I enjoyed 2.5 but I was the only one on the team to and I was ready to get out of the car afterwards.

  2. Timothy Odell Avatar
    Timothy Odell

    That Nissan/Datsun will never-again be in C.
    It was the kind of car that could be worthless or could be great, and we (Sean and I) gave them the option of being in B with no laps or C with a few laps.
    On the high-end cars, it's really hard to tell if a long-running top-10 car deserves laps or not. From the outside, an engine is an engine, whether it's a got moon-journey mileage or brand new high-compression pistons and a ported head.

  3. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Spanks Moke vs Smokey Unit's Spider vs Idle Clatter's 300sd. That would be a war of attrition.

  4. LTDScott Avatar

    Nice wrap up. Spank is a mad man.
    I am eagerly awaiting the result of The Homer's entry into March's Sonoma race.

  5. Ryan Avatar

    Now that my team has placed 3rd I can attest that Depends and Eyesore are not only insanely fast, but they are amazingly consistent. Being consistent and not getting ANY black flags is the hardest part.
    Hella Shitty also had a mechanical failure on Monday, our rear shock bolt came out. Cost us ~20 minutes. Even without the 2 black flags and mechanical we still would have been 3rd!