24 Hours of LeMons: 'Shine Country Classic' recap

As predicted in our preview before the race, The 24 Hours of LeMons commenced to show up at world-class racing facility Barber Motorsports Park 10 days ago to sully the track’s name with the series’ trademark terrible hoopties. When the oil-dry settled and the exhausted cars had wobbled with bent and broken A-arms onto trailers, Barber was no worse for their wear and a couple teams had even managed to run good races by any standard. As always, you can get the full story on the award winners at the race from Murilee Martin over on Car and Driver, but follow the jump for a little more discussion of the winners, losers, and soiled drawers of LeMons “Shine Country Classic” at Barber.

We gave a brief rundown of the field in our race preview so we’ll refrain from talking about them for the most part except to explain a couple of “secret” builds.
The car that Dave Morrow brought wasn’t exactly the one we thought he was bringing, but it was nevertheless amazing: a replica (above) of Pontiac’s 1960s Banshee XP-833 Concept Car designed by John DeLorean. As the Banshee itself was never produced, Morrows Racing instead had to construct one using a Pontiac OHC straight six (the XP-833’s original engine), a BMW E36 chassis, Opel GT body panels, and Morrows’ trademark finagling. Their “Banshee” ran away with Class C, perhaps suggesting the relatively rare Pontiac six might withstand the rigors of endurance racing well.
The Knoxvegas Lowballers brought a new “car” to the race, referred to simply as “Big Bertha” on the entry list. It should be mentioned that this team already has two cars powered by Ford’s Duratec V6: a Contour SVT and a Geo Metro with a mid-engine V6 swap. They brought to this race two more Duratecs in the form of a twin-engined Mazda MPV (above) with two manual transmissions connected by LeMons-caliber linkeage. The Metro and minivan rolled through inspection done up as a 1970s Vannin’-caliber custom vans. The van struggled on Saturday with only 31 laps completed while they sorted the linkage, but they sorted it enough for the van to total 158 laps. Their dedication to incredible themes earned them another Organizer’s Choice, which I believe is their third such award.
Finally, NSF Racing stood out by dragging a swamp-soaked Studebaker Silver Hawk from their home state, Florida. Its Mopar 360 came out of a recreational vehicle and while it occasionally struggled to turn laps, they still brought a beat-up, patina’d Stude to a race and made it more or less work to earn the Index of Effluency.
As we said, you can get the full rundown from Murilee Martin over on Car & Driver’s LeMons page. We’ll give the Top 10 overall and in the classes below and, after that, give a quick statistical analysis and explanation of the race.
1. #36 Save the Ta-Tas Racing (Chevy Camaro, above) – 422 Laps
2. #335 Road Warrior Racing (BMW E30) – 420 Laps
3. #99 Basil Weenie Racing (BMW E30) – 417 Laps
4. #262 Vermont BertOne (Volvo 262C) – 406 Laps
5. #150 Burningham Racing (Porsche 944) – 405 Laps
6. #161 Zero Energy Racing (Honda Del Sol) – 404 Laps
7. #351 Tetanus Racing (Datsun 240Z) – 397 Laps
8. #67 Toxic Asset Racing Program – TARP (BMW E36) – 394 Laps
9. #701 The Generar Ree (Datsun 280ZX) – 393 Laps, Class B
10. #101 Byte Marks Racing (Ford Escort) – 389 Laps


1. #701 The Generar Ree (Datsun 280ZX, above) – 393 Laps
2. #420 PBR (Subaru Outback) – 386 Laps
3. #128 Duff Beer Civic (Honda Civic) – 377 Laps
4. #714 Men in Black (Ford Crown Victoria) – 374 Laps
5. #157 Terminally Confused (Honda CRX) – 372 Laps
6. #416 Mom’s Friendly Racing Company (Honda Civic) – 370 Laps
7. #61 Emily’s Power for the Cure (Mazda RX-7) – 367 Laps
8. #156 Trophy Wife Racing (Mazda 323) – 366 Laps
9. #97 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Ford Contour SVT) – 364 Laps
10. #343 Bros With Hose (Honda Civic) – 363 Laps
1. #833 Morrows Racing (Pontiac Banshee/Opel GT) – 335 Laps
2. #19 Fuzzy Blumpkins (Ford Pinto, above) – 295 Laps
3. #33 British Invasion (Triumph Spitfire) – 227 Laps
4. #473 Idle Clatter Racing (Mercedes 300D/Toyota Hilux) – 224 Laps
5. #100 Parrothead Racing (Honda Accord) – 219 Laps
6. #41 Three Pedal Mafia- 24 Hours of Lemons Racing Team (Datsun 720) – 190 Laps
7. #68 Swamp Shack Maniacs (Honda Prelude) – 188 Laps
8. #59 NSF Racing (Studebaker Silver Hawk) – 178 Laps
9. #71 Team Sputnik (Plymouth Fury) – 165 Laps
10. #230 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Mazda MPV, twin-engine) – 158 Laps


Crunching the numbers

As we tend to explain, here’s how this works: We study the timing sheets to a sickening degree and determine how far between visits to the pits each of the competitor’s are to get a general picture of the race. In the chart below, this is noted at “stints,” though it doesn’t mean what “stint” usually mean in professional endurance racing. Since there’s no practical differentiation between whether a car is getting tended to mechanically, the word, or simply receiving a new driver and some fuel, “stint” here can refer to any or all of those.
As discussed in the preview, the race sessions’ lengths (7.5 hours, 2 hours, and then 5 hours) were such we thought a team that could run 2.5 hours on a tank of fuel could run on just three in-race stops. It turns out Barber is a thirstier track than initially thought; only one team made a three-stop strategy work while most made five or even six. That, however, put most of the frontrunners on the same driver-change strategy so that other factors ultimately decided the race.

Team # Stints Avg Stint (Laps) Long Stint (Laps) Avg Lap Time (Green) Fastest Lap Time Avg Stop Time Laps
Save the Ta-Tas 9 46.89 60 01:58.7 01:48.1 05:53.4 422
Road Warrior 9 46.67 65 02:01.0 01:51.3 05:20.5 420
Basil Weenie 9 46.33 68 02:00.4 01:51.9 06:51.0 417
BertOne 9 44.00 58 02:01.5 01:53.2 06:54.1 406
Burningham 10 39.50 59 01:59.1 01:51.1 10:38.5 405
Zero Energy 9 43.78 60 02:03.9 01:55.1 06:35.1 404
Tetanus Racing 9 41.89 59 02:05.5 01:57.4 08:04.0 397
TARP 13 30.31 51 02:02.3 01:52.4 07:33.1 394
Generar Ree 13 17.83 58 02:05.0 01:56.4 06:52.2 393
PBR 6 64.33 68 02:10.8 02:02.2 09:53.0 386
Duff Beer 8 47.13 67 02:11.5 02:01.2 08:22.0 377
Morrows 16 17.83 37 02:15.3 02:04.1 08:20.0 335

Let’s go through this business a little bit:

  • The top three cars started Sunday all with 216 laps and they were all more or less on the same driver change schedule. The Ta-Tas’ Camaro ultimately won the race by just driving away from the other “podium” cars (quotation marks used because the 2nd and 3rd place cars don’t get anything; the winner barely does). This probably sounds unfair, but the Camaro—this one included—tends to break easily in endurance racing. It was never a given that it would finish the race and it likely finished at considerably less than 100 percent.


  • You’ll notice the Basil Weenie E30 averaged slightly better pace (0.6 seconds per lap) than the Road Warrior BMW but finished behind it. The difference? Experienced endurance racers and fans will tell you that close races are won in the pits. Road Warrior Racing saved 90 seconds per stop, which accounted for more three laps over the course of the race.
  • For most of Saturday’s race session, the Burningham Porsche 944 was in the mix with the frontrunning trio. A 33-minute issue (black flag or mechanical, likely) late Saturday cost them a chance to win. If you cut that 33-minute chunk into their average lap times, they would have been right in the mix with the Ta-Tas Camaro and they had the pace to run with them if not for their half-hour off the track. Of course, you can never really make suppositions like that in endurance racing; the results are simply never as straightforward as it ever seems.
  • BertOne finishing fourth? That’s not really a surprise. Those chaps can sure run a race. Same for perennial achievers Tetanus Racing in the old LRE Datsun 240Z that they borrowed for this race.


  • Zero Energy were the best of the very many Hondas. TARP Racing struggled to make fuel mileage—a common malady on a track that’s tough for any kind of endurance fuel economy—but still snuck into the Top 10 despite a lot of time off track.
  • In Class B, Generar Ree really had the win in the bag after Knoxvegas Lowballers’ Contour conked out Sunday afternoon. Until then, the two teams had gone blow-for-blow despite Lowballers’ driver getting motion sickness, a frequent-enough occurrence at Barber’s roller coaster circuit, although the Contour driver experienced an unfortunate reversal of fortune. Puke in a racecar is a scene that the esteemed Murilee Martin once called “icky” with the most profoundly disgusted look on his face.


  • Nevertheless, the PBR team deserve some serious mention for their incredible feat. In the race’s entire 14-1/2 hours, they made only three in-race stop for fuel. Notice that their average stint length is close to their longest stint length. That’s no accident. The Subaru team showed up with a plan and executed it: Their six stints were 66, 66, 67, 54, 68, and 65 laps. They had no black flags and while their driver changes took longer each than most other teams, they also only made three of them. That’s some quality endurance racing.
  • The Morrows Racing “Banshee” really didn’t have any competition in Class C. They made quite a few stops to fix little things, it seems, but they were off the track considerably less than anyone else in the class.


  • The Frankenstein Motorworks Toyota MR2, which is powered by a 270-horsepower V6 from a minivan, set the weekend’s fastest lap with a 1:45.8. The car itself is awfully fast, but young Indy Lights driver (and IndyCar hopeful) Zach Veach was the one who pedaled the car to that lap, which was more than two seconds faster than anyone.
  • Hooniverse contributor Alan Cesar spent the weekend in the Fireball Racing Ford Escort, which Alan and this writer built together in 2010. The Escort suffered from some fuel pump maladies, which cost Alan the chance at a second stint, but he did get a quality two hours with the car, during which time he set the car’s fastest lap time for the weekend en route to a mid-pack finish.

And that’s a wrap on the Shine Country Classic. Did we miss anything? Feel free to use the Comments section below to tell your stories from Barber, insofar as they are not incriminating.
[Photos: Murilee Martin]

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9 responses to “24 Hours of LeMons: 'Shine Country Classic' recap”

  1. Murilee Martin Avatar
    Murilee Martin

    The Burningham 944 team blew their chance at an overall win by getting three black flags in rapid succession on Saturday afternoon. The team is a bunch of locals at their home track, great drivers and know Barber better than the other quick teams, but once they got Black Flag #1 they tried to get back into P1 by going 11/10ths and taking a lot of chances on iffy passes, with predictable results. The good news is that we made them do the Victory Auto Wrecking Door Mishap Commercial Penalty and they did very well at that.
    Unusually for Porsche racers, the Burningham guys were pleasant and seem to be capable of figuring the tricks of LeMons-style endurance racing (e.g., be able to cope with drivers in fast cars who are better than you while also getting around confused drivers in slow-ass cars doing unpredictable stuff while dropping starter motors). I think they've got a real shot at a P1 finish by their third race.

    1. Bham Avatar

      Hey, it was almost worth it to get the chance to record the commercial. Oh well, we got 5th place in spite of that, one less than last year's 4th place. We'll get our stuff together and maybe get a P1 one day.

  2. Tanshanomi Avatar

    "…which cost Alan the chance at a second stint, but he did get a quality two hours with the car…"
    As I read that statement, I thought, "he did two hours in one stint, non-stop? That can't be right." So I averaged all the teams you have listed in your chart, and the average stint time is 82 minutes. When I was racing motorcycles, I don't think I was ever out on the track for more than 20 minutes at a time, and I'd come back to the pits wasted. I don't think I've ever put LeMons races in perspective quite that way before. Regardless of how fast or slow your car is, that's a hell of a long time to keep trying to go AFAP.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      For an overall winner, two hours in the car is more or less the norm. In the California races where it's more competitive, cars with a big fuel cell (24 gallons is the maximum allowed) and a disciplined driver can easily run 3+ hours. To do that requires the driver to go at probably 7-8/10ths most of the time to give a bit of cushion and not break the car. If they're around a class or overall win toward the end of the race, it becomes time to push a little harder.
      The beauty of this, to me as also a fan of professional endurance racing, is that's exactly how Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, et. al. used to be. Twenty-four-hour reliability is generally a development over the last, oh, 15-25 years. Before then, it was all about managing how much fuel, tire, and brakes you were using while also paying mind to the engine, transmission, and clutch AND THEN still trying not to stuff the car into a wall or another car.
      The LeMons teams that don't understand this lead races. The teams that do, they win races.

  3. cabinboy63 Avatar

    Motion sickness was an issue for a couple of us in the White Trash Racing Neon. Our first driver came in early when we weren't ready and I got sick and came in after about 1:35 instead of two hours. That two hour stint on Sunday morning killed us. Our best driver ended up rear ending the Spitfire while in fuel economy mode, something he's not used to.

  4. triponastik Avatar

    I'd like to mention that the Fuzzy Blumpkins Pinto would have likely won C class if it wasn't for being off the track for close to 2 hours Saturday. We filled up with 55 gallons of fuel on the way there in South Carolina, 10 or so of that turned out to be a nice water/dirt mix. After draining the fuel system, and having to leave the track for fuel due to the credit card system not working at the track pumps, the car ran flawless and we were able to climb back up to 2nd by the end of the day Sunday. We'll see everybody at CMP!

  5. buzzboy7 Avatar

    We saw very increased fuel consumption as compared to Sebring and CMP which are both flat tracks. At those places we were getting 3.5gph and at Barber we bumped that up to 4gph. You may think this insignificant but with our 21.5gallon tank our fueling strategy was laid out precisely. For the last 30minutes on saturday I was getting fuel starvation problems. Also what makes Barber difficult is that the two gas stations near the track don't sell diesel. Early on Sunday morning we loaded up jugs in the Benzes and drove down the interstate to buy fuel. That's a cold ride. Plus the Toyocedes almost ran out of fuel on the drive.
    My co-captain was complaining about us being put in B class and Phil saying that we'll never go back to C. However we completed just one less lap than the El Banchero which, by Phil's rule, will be joining us in B class. Like it or not, the Planet Express is now a B class car.
    Luckily Phil was kind to our Toyocedes and it's crew of noobie drivers. It's a quick car… compared to our SD. I think after we fix our teething problems and if we put 4 experienced drivers in, the car could take C class. Will that happen any time soon? Probably not.

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      Wait, your non turbo diesel Mercino is faster than the turbo diesel Merc? Or did I misread that?

      1. buzzboy7 Avatar

        Both cars are Turbo. The Planet Express is 3500lbs and 110hp while the Toyocedes is <3000lbs and 120hp. It's a much quicker car.