24 Hours of LeMons: 'NASA, We Have a Problem' sprint preview


The 24 Hours of LeMons will jump to a new format this weekend, offering a two-hour sprint race at Sonoma Raceway as part of the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s NorCal Region weekend there. The short race will factor as only a small part of the weekend, so technical inspections don’t begin until 10:00 a.m. Saturday with the race running from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. that same day. The races will include all the major rules of LeMons, including class, but in the interest of this being a two-hour race, the preview after the jump will be similarly abbreviated.

The short race format should shake up the usual bouts of fuel-economy-versus-speed that LeMons produces. With no required driver change, any car that can run two hours non-stop should have a chance at the win with speed and—perhaps more importantly—consistency likely playing major roles in the race’s outcome. Mid-week weather forecasts call 50-degree temperatures and a chance of rain, which could jumble up the pace and could also allow some cars to stretch a normal 110-minute fuel load enough to make the checkered flag. Let’s look at the shortened preview and you can see the full unofficial entry list here.



Picking the contenders for the overall win becomes considerably more difficult when the car has to last only two hours without breaking instead of the normal 14. As a result, a contending car needs to be reasonably fast (consistently running around maybe the 2:12 mark at Sonoma if the configuration is the same as previous races) and capable of running two hours on a tank of fuel. Of the 64 entries in the field, a solid third could probably win with the right driver. Since the race is much shorter, so is the preview.

DOMINATIN’ TYPES: Cerveza Racing (BMW E28), The Cannonball Bandits (Toyota Supra, above), Alfa Romeo Syndicate A (Alfa Romeo Alfetta, formerly California Mille), Krider Racing University (Acura Integra)

SHOULD BE AROUND THE FRONT: Porch Racing (Porsche 944) I Can Haz Racekar (BMW E36), Roadrace Jones (Nissan Sentra SE-R), Auto Lemon Union A (BMW E28), Pistola Alto (Nissan 300ZX)

IN WITH A CHANCE: New York Rock Exchange A and B (Ford Focus and VW Rabbit), Rotary Rooter (Mazda RX-7), Geico Racing Insurance (BMW E30)

QUALITY LONGSHOTS: Clowntown Road Show (BMW E30), Bunny With or Without a Pancake On Its Head (VW Rabbit), The Homey Depot (Nissan 240SX), Alfa R0meo Syndicate D (Alfa Romeo Milano, formerly Scuderia Limoni), Vermont Bert-One (V0lvo 262C)

HOPELESS: Neon Pope (Dodge Neon), SmorgasBorg (Porsche 944)

COMPLETELY HOPELESS: Geritol Gypsies (Chevy Camaro),

WHAT’S BELOW ‘COMPLETELY HOPELESS?’ White Trash Barbie/White Trash Ken (3 Saturn SC2s)




Putting cars in Class B will be even more difficult at this race where speed matters, so I’m even more clueless about what might happen in B. These predictions are based on (possibly incorrect assumptions) about classing, so take with a pinch of road salt unless you live in the South, where you’ll need every gram of it.

MIDDLE-CLASS DOMINATION AND/OR BORDERLINE A CLASS: Uber Vogel (Mercedes 190e), Nerd Herd 13.0 (Ford Mustang), Panting Polar Bear Racing (Ford Crown Victoria)

PROBABLY PRETTY OK: Licensed to Ill (Chevy S10), Bridgeway Bombers (Alfa Romeo Spider, above), As Seen on TV Racing (Kia Rio)

USING AS A RACE-PACE TEST: Hella Sh***y Racing (Volkswagen Beetle), ONSET/Tetanus West (Chevy Cavalier)




This should be a pretty interesting and even competitive outing for the bottom class, whose winner is usually the car that breaks least often over 14 hours.

TOP OF THE BOTTOM: Easy 908/14 (Porsche 914, above, with liquid-cooled VW motor), Billy Beer Racing (Ford Fairmont Futura)

BAD IN A GOOD WAY: LOL Racing (Volvo 1800), B210 Racing (Datsun B210)



NEW AND UNKNOWN SO PROBABLY BAD: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better (Volvo 242), Dudes Ex Machina (Datsun 200SX)

 The 2013 co-Hooniversal Car of the Year/Worst LeMons Car of All Time (WLCOAT)/K-It-Forward Plymouth Reliant recently found its way permanently into the capable hands of Chris Overzet, who has entered dozens of Pit Crew Revenge cars in LeMons since 2006. The Reliant was supposed to run at this race and would have had a chance at the Class C win, but planned driver Mike Taylor from Hong Norrth Racing is stuck in Atlanta due to inclement weather. As a result, it will be a late scratch for the race.

It’s been suggested that the K is growing in strength, refining its ability to control weather patterns and occasionally to take down Hooniverse.com when this author is writing about it. The Reliant’s many fans, benefactors, and detractors can argue the merits of this theory while I fashion a new hat and prepare the devices to fling its flaming carcass into the bosom of the Pacific Ocean at the first sign of K-Car sentience. There will be no second chances.

[Photos: Murilee Martin]

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