Hooniverse 24 Hours of LeMons: Halloween Hooptiefest is a Clean Race for Idiots in a Buick

halloween hooptiefest 2015 tree
Four “idiots in a Buick”, as Jay Lamm once famously called us, car number 451, finished third in class and fifteenth overall at the 24 Hours Halooween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire. We made no contact, did not go off-track, did not speed in the pits, had no black flags, and made just three pit stops and driver swaps each day. We ran clean and we ran consistently, we were slightly slowed down by the Sunday morning rain, but we still didn’t win. Ugh.
That said, we are very happy with our second top-five in-class result in two races. After some high-fives, chest-bumps, and beers, we started discussing our future racing strategy. I questioned if we have reached the potential of this tired old Buick. We sat down and started chatting about some issues.

First issue, tires.
Our two new 245/40-17 Continental  ExtremeContact DW lasted… seven hours. That was interesting, because tires typically last us three race days, some even more if mounted in the back. They were great in the beginning, sticky, and understeer was greatly reduced. But at the end of the day we noticed steel belts coming of the outer edge/shoulder area. The ware was even across the inner 2/3 of the tire, then the tread got deeper, then excessive shoulder wear. We have 3 degrees of camber and we ran them at 35psi. Some forums reports of weak sidewalls on these tires, and even though TireRack recommended them, they may not be right tire for our heavy Buick. We need tires, good tires, badly.
Second issue, suspension.
Despite the allegations of having some type of a secret suspension setup, we don’t. Shocks, springs, sway bars, and most bushings are original factory parts that came with the car. If there is a secret, it’s that the suspension is super soft and the springs do a great job of absorbing the rumble strips. We have changed the camber and compressed the springs in the most ghetto-fab way. The rear shock mounts are now gone. We have done eight races on this car with minimal suspension improvements – maybe it’s time to change that?
bench lemons buick
Third issue, aerodynamics.
Well, we have a heavy park bench mounted to the trunk. It adds drag, weight, and raises the center of gravity. Naturally, we will leave that alone and look at front splitters, and perhaps reinstall a set of modified headlights. Ok, we might do something with the bench, I don’t know what yet, perhaps active aerodynamics – how complicated could that be?
Fourth issue, weight.
I decided to lose twenty pounds by next May – I’m giving up kielbasa and pierogies. Perhaps we can ditch the rear window, which maybe contributing to drag, and take a Sawzall to some not needed sheetmetal. Removing the bench would reduce the weight too, but we won’t do that. It’s quite amazing how different this boat feels with the fuel tank full and near-empty.
buick faster than back to the future scirocco
Fifth issue, fuel.
The size of the tank is limiting us to two-hour stints. That actually works out really well for four drivers and three pit stops but more fuel is always better. Being able to refuel faster would be nice, too. Fuel cell would take care of most of those issues, but they’re pricey.
No issue, stopping and going.
The supercharged 3.8 has plenty of power but isn’t always able to put all of it down, such as on the uphill at NHMS. On straights we are able to hang with some Class A cars. Brakes are fine, too.
buick bench lemosn sceleton
It’s taken us over seven races to get to this point – two top-five class B finishes in row, two top fifteen overall finishes in row. We have learned a lot and we have stopped being delusional about our abilities. Racing takes skill, knowledge, and experience, and a slow car in 24 Hours of Lemons is a great way to gather those.
Finally, a shout-out to the guys in the number 199 One Tire Fire 1981 Datsun 280zx 2+2. They took the “I got Screwed” award in Jersey and then fought hard with us for a class B victory in Thompson. I didn’t get to chat with them much, but apparently they read Hooniverse!
And finally finally, big thanks for Erik from www.teamdi.com for lending me a HANS device for the race. I’ll buy one in the spring.

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14 responses to “Hooniverse 24 Hours of LeMons: Halloween Hooptiefest is a Clean Race for Idiots in a Buick”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    “Naturally, we will leave that [park bench] alone….”
    Have you considered a parasol? They look to be both practical and aerodynamic.

    1. Kamil K Avatar


      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Fabricate it yourself and that way you can make it as heavy as you like.

      2. Vairship Avatar

        Negative at the right speed and angle of attack!

  2. David Avatar

    Actually, you could construct an entire miniature park with trees, grass, and multiple benches on that deck lid. Could even have some young’uns frolicking around. Think of what mounting a 1:18 scale (or maybe smaller?) park (plastic, of course) on the back of your 1:1 scale Buick could do for you. Less weight. Better aerodynamics. More theme fun possibilities!

  3. Darren McLellan Avatar
    Darren McLellan

    You were pretty consistent during the 4 or so hours I was there on Sattaday.
    The stands on the uphill were the place to be. Great racing going on there.

  4. mad_science Avatar

    Azenis, Rivals or Direzza star specs will make a big difference (and are budget exempt).
    Making steering and weight transfer predictable will help, so going after bushings and/or cutting/swapping springs would be a good bang-for-the-buck.
    An aggressive weight savings campaign to the tune of a few hundred pounds might be worthwhile. Back glass, much of the roof, any remaining interior/door/hood/trunk reinforcements could help all over.
    Your car’s on the Epsilon II chassis, right? Any of its siblings have some go-fast bits (or manual transmissions) worth swapping over?

    1. Tyler Avatar

      Actually this is on the old W-body platform that’s under the fwd grand prix, lumina/Monte Carlo, and Cutlass supreme. I believe the regal was actually the fastest with the 3.8 supercharged (which they have) and the shorter wheelbase.

      1. Kamil K Avatar

        There were editions of the Grand Prix that had more power.

    2. Kamil K Avatar

      I know all this. There is a dollar figure associated with everything, and we’ve really been playing by the Lemons rules here.
      Swapping springs for what? Eibachs? We’d need shocks. And we’d likely be dumped to Class A or given penalty laps for that.
      Weight savings – yes, we’ve been cutting. I kind of like the idea of the roof for safety and protection from the elements – we had frost, rain, and blinding sunshine within hours of each other. New England weather, if you don’t like it, wait twenty minutes.
      We have agreed to keep the automatic. It allows to focus more on driving and is less tiresome over 2-3 hour stints. It also protects the car/engine more from fast (over-aggressive) drivers. My theory is that the more stock we keep it, the better it will run.

  5. ol shel Avatar
    ol shel

    Please consider dropping the term ‘ghetto’ when referring to something done poorly. I just don’t think it’s doing your work any favors.
    I’m sure others will disagree.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Noted. Thanks.

  6. Scoutdude Avatar

    That is too small of a tire for that heavy of a FWD car. They are only rated for a max load of 1356lbs, too little margin for track abuse on a car like that. Also the ExtremeContact DW is a high pressure tire with a max inflation rate of 51 psi so considering the weight on those front tires and the poor suspension geometry I’d run them at their max pressure.

  7. Rob Keller Avatar
    Rob Keller

    I was amazed how quick that car was. I remember the 2013 Halloween Hooptiefest and we were almost at quick as you with “The Brickmobile”, 93 Mustang with a NA 2.3. This year I was in the “Great Pumpkin” 87 Mustang with a 2.3 turbo, and I could not keep up with you. If you have not done much to the car, then you guys have really improved your driving. Great job, and hope to see you next year.