The Killer ZomBee – A Season Ender to One HELL of a Season.

It’s 10am, Saturday morning at Buttonwillow Raceway in central California, and the sun is finally starting to take the bone-aching cold out of our toes. Around one hundred thirty crappy old hoopties and ultimate driving machines circle the track in a motorized spectacle that can only be described as part Burning Man, part mid-20th century NASCAR, waaaay back when they actually raced street-based cars. Teams gather along the pit walls to watch the start of the race – chatting nervously, giggling and pointing out various goofy themes and creations as they cruise by.
Suddenly the green flag drops, the din grows to a screaming roar, smoke billows and cheers fill the air. The 24 Hours of Lemons “Arse-Freeze-Apalooza 2011” has just begun; a 2-day battle of endurance, perseverance, absurdity, a little strategy and a big steaming pile of plain old dumb luck.
The Killer ZomBee MGB meanwhile, is still in the pits. As laps begin ticking up and the clock begins ticking down, the team is still struggling to get a special racing seat fitted. While the old one still works it will no longer be legal for the next racing season, thus one of our teammates has brought a seat from his own racecar for testing. “We’ll just throw it in before the race” came the battle-cry, “How hard can it be?”
Aaand the race started without us. Which, pretty much answers that question.
The team captain has an inner-ear inflammation brought about by an allergic reaction to a certain type of Sycamore trees (and a rare ill-timed tequila bender), thus over the last week every time he moves his head the world spins in vertigo. This makes simple things like eating, showering, tying shoes or working on the car a fall-down-at-random challenge, not to mention 5 nights of sleep deprivation thanks to a bout of Sudafed induced insomnia. The captain really IS a walking delirious Zombie and a complete mental/physical wreck. This could be a long, looong weekend.
20 minutes pass and the seat is nearly installed, the driver is fully suited up and the car, an infamous battle-hardened 1977 Rubber-Bumper MGB sits otherwise ready for its final race of the season. The team is on edge as the bare threads of the captain’s sanity begin to fray. No one knows what the captain is trying to say, making sense to no one – not even himself.
The terse moments finally pass when the seat is declared done, the driver gets belted in and the Bee roars to life, then sent out in record time to join a race already underway. At the end of the first hour we had settled into a mellow 98th place out of 131 entries.
This last second push would set the tone for the weekend, in which the team would keep functioning as a well oiled machine every-time it mattered most. Not that we had any chance in hell of winning anything. After all, the car had already won the top Lemons prize of I.O.E (Index Of Effluency) earlier this year in part by driving all the way to Oregon from the Bay Area Ca for the “Pacific Northworst” race – all while towing a silly 1-wheeled Calistoga trailer. And with our consistent 2nd or 3rd slowest laptimes of every race we weren’t likely to beat anyone with speed.


But winning is not why we are here. We came for the same reason the other 6-7 cars in our little area of the paddock did. These teams were all crammed into a small area that came to be known by the organizers as the “Hardcore Class-C” compound and included a Mini Moke, an Austin America, ghetto-charged turbo Mini cooper, a French Simica, VW Bug, Malaise era Triumph Spitfire and of course the Zombee MGB. The sheer number of automotive misfits crammed into our ¼ acre of paddock space was almost frightening. But what we all lack in speed and reliability we generally make up for with being towed off the track, great food and a good laugh.

We just keep trying to see how far the silly things will go.

But then something amazing happened. At the end of day 1 we found ourselves at 58th place overall, and just a few laps behind our class C leaders and friendly arch-rivals “LaHonda Bandits” in their Porsche 914.  “WHAT the hell happened?!?!? How could this be?” Answer; we just kept turning slow consistent laps and stayed out of trouble. But there was still a long race ahead of us, so no one got their hopes up.
At this point I was sure everything was a sleep-deprived hallucination, and decided to chance laying off the Sudafed in exchange for a good night’s sleep. I hadn’t been in the car yet but I was up for first stint in the morning, and either my ear would be better or it wouldn’t. There was no way I could drive with vertigo AND continued sleep deprivation.
That night we had the enjoyable company of our own BZR/Blake Rong, 2 kegs of home brewed beer, beer-boiled bratwursts, thick juicy steaks, and Killdozer-Jozwik’s delicious homemade Limón cello. And in spite of a live punk band playing right outside the door of “Brownie, the World’s greatest Crappy Old RV”™ I hit the rack early… and slept. Finally.
Sunday morning I took the car out hoping to be well enough to do a full hour and the team was on-standby just in case I suddenly had to come back in.  But the hour passed and I felt great. The car was a bit down on power and smoking but kept chugging along, and I got into a great groove and found the fast line around the track. I even set our team lap record of 2:36, which is not bad for a car that was rated at a whopping 63hp at the crank over 3 decades ago (that we have admittedly cheated and brought up to a blistering 90, maybe).
2 hours and a wicked-fast pit-stop later the car went back out with the second driver of the day. Rumor had it we even gained a few positions. However the Porsche 914 was back out tearing up the track after fixing some mechanical issues and it was now running on all 4 cylinders, which made them quite a bit quicker than us and able to gain 2 laps an hour. Mathematically it was obvious we were out of the running yet again.
Still, we. never. gave. up.

And then, a miracle. We saw them in the penalty box. Then twice. And then a third time. Scuttlebutt said they had incurred a 30 minute penalty – which gave us the lead, but still a calculated two laps down at the end. Suddenly it was a real race in the C/Ugly class. It would all come down to pit strategy and zen driving, but essentially be theirs to lose. Talk about a rush!! We’ve never been seriously “competitive” before!
I was just thrilled to have been in a chase of ANY sort, so even if we blew up or crashed at that moment it still would have been a incredibly great weekend. But somehow the car kept going, and going, and going, burning 2 quarts of oil at every pit-stop (still on the wife’s motor). The starter gave up the ghost, it had a wicked stumble and was losing power, and the front-end felt like it had finally had it and started to scare us over the bumps. Then the wipers shorted out and went berserk for the last stint.
But it kept going. Like an evil English sewing machine someone said.
With half an hour left one of us checked the standing on the wireless timing app, and we realized we had somehow… mathematically clinched the @#$% win!!! They retired with a mechanical problem and we kept going with our electrical system going haywire, the next class C car a full 24 laps behind us.
(scene: cut to a bunch of chubby guys in bee costumes jumping and screaming like high-school cheerleaders).
We finished 37th overall out of 131 cars, having clawed our way all the way up from 98th place at the less than perfect beginning, and in spite of having the 4th slowest laptimes. Only the stretch Limo, Austin America (I stand corrected, it was a Simca!) and that horrible 1979 Ford Futura were slower, and yet the plucky little ZomBee somehow beat 94 other cars.
In its 3 years as a racecar, the Bee has won “Worst-British” trophy at a car show for too much duck-tape, a Judge’s Choice trophy for being “awfully nice”, and the highly coveted “Index Of Effluency” (IOE) grand prize for being stupidly brave. It has even won the hearts of hundreds for just being plucky and virtually indestructible.

But now, after 3 long, incredibly hard years, 12 races, 5,930 miles in-tow behind Brownie, the World’s Greatest Crappy Old RV™, 2,395 miles pulling its own silly little wagon up and down the freeways, and approximately 4,859 competition miles squealing its tires on 7 great tracks,  the Bee can now say – “Yeah, (puts on shades) I finally won a race.”

“I am Lazarus. I am the Killer ZomBee MGB. And I am awesome.”


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64 responses to “The Killer ZomBee – A Season Ender to One HELL of a Season.”

  1. mdharrell Avatar
    1. Thrashy Avatar


    2. B72 Avatar


    3. Jo Schmo Avatar
      Jo Schmo

      funny you mention that… Tune in tomorrow folks!

    4. lilwillie Avatar

      yup, I had wondered why I had not seen it nominated yet

    5. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      The Alfa has sex, this has balls.

  2. pj134 Avatar

    For being near an MG, you're all surprisingly clean.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!

  3. Alff Avatar

    Is it just an illusion, or is the Killer Zombie set up for superior turn in on right hand corners?

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Superior in every way. 😀
      It does have neg-camber lower control arms and always looks like it's testing the water around corners. I'm not sure how much of that is intentional and how much is something poised to kill us.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    Just before the start of this year's IOE-winning Oregon race, my girlfriend and I spraypainted one of Pete's balls* bright yellow while standing inside a Porta-Potty. He thanked us afterwards and commended us for the nice job we had done in wrapping it in duct tape, too.
    *The larger one.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      ^^True story

  5. Irishzombieman Avatar

    I was there Saturday, and remarked to a friend, "We gotta do this, even if it's in something as crappy as that MG."
    Well done, my friend.

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      Every time one of these stories comes up I feel the same way. Unfortunately I've always been too poor, to busy, or too garage-challenged to actually do anything about it.
      This local CL ad has got the wheels in my head churning again. I'm thinking sell trim bits off all three to bring the per-van cost down, and maybe if there's enough in the pot, try and chuck a junkyard Subie 2.5 in there. Then either go for an ersatz Race-Taxi theme, or hippie it up as Sunshine's Mobile Dispensary (tear out the interior and put in steel racks and grow-lamps, etc…)

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        On the bright side, only one of them appears to have been on fire. What could go wrong?

      2. Irishzombieman Avatar

        Two friends and I whipped up a two year plan, the goal of which is to make the Arse-Freeze by 2013 at the absolute latest. We've all got kids and wives and full, busy lives as it is but figured we could squirrel away enough time and pocket change in that time.
        Step 1 was go to the race and make sure it was something we wanted to do. Checked it off. Hell yeah.
        Step 2 is to buy a crapcan by June.We're sorta leaning toward a Hyundai Accent with a 5-speed that one guy knows about, but there was a $400 Hudson Hornet (no motor, no transmission) that almost made us pull the trigger, because how danged cool would that be?
        Anyway, if you haven't already, try to make it to a LeMons or Chump Car race. So damned awesome. And most of the racers were great, friendly and willing to talk.

        1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

          Here's another vote in favor of your Hudson Hornet dreams. All those folks talking about cost, simplicity and reliability are just crazy.

          1. Irishzombieman Avatar

            Alas, yonder Hornet has been sold.
            The father in law of one of the guys is a life-long mechanic and former race team grease monkey, and while he loved the idea as much as I did, he walked us through what it would take to make it raceable on modern road courses. Might've been okay after we'd raced something reliable for a year or two, but probably not as a first race car. It would've been a long exercise in weakest link engineering.
            Bud it would've been badass.

          2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

            Then an AMC Hornet should be just the thing – but made to look like a Hudson, perhaps with a Broderick Crawford police car theme? It might be only half the mechanical disaster of the older car. But you'll have to do a lot of work to get it classified in the boat division.

          3. Irishzombieman Avatar

            Boat division, you say?
            <img src="; width="500/">
            So many Burning Man cars would make awesome LeMons racers.
            <img src="; width="500/">
            <img src="; width="500/">
            How awesome would this be lapping a track? Say it goes out once an hour for a single lap.
            <img src="; width="500/">

          1. Irishzombieman Avatar

            Hemmings blocked at work? DAMN YOU OpenDNS!
            EDIT: Whoa.Weird glitch in the comment matrix. For a second there I had your comment open for editing.

          2. pj134 Avatar

            Tell them you need to get some technicals from them! To write about the technicals!Note: One may be a school bus.

          3. Irishzombieman Avatar

            Oh wow. Dang. I want them all, especially the tow truck.
            And the step van.
            And the Lincoln. . . .

          4. pj134 Avatar

            All of them are of true lemons character too.

      3. parkwood60 Avatar

        If you are thinking about a VW Microbus be sure to run it by the organizers first. I know John at EvilGenius, who is their safety guru has said no to forward control vehicles in the past due to their lack of any crumple zone in the front.

  6. $kaycog Avatar

    What a great story! That is just awesome and so are your trophies!

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Thanks!! 🙂
      I love the trophies! The wife won't let me put them on the kitchen table though.

      1. Jo Schmo Avatar
        Jo Schmo

        Surely you can't be serious! THE Super Spouse said no??

        1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

          Full disclosure, she wants me to use a coaster.

          1. Jo Schmo Avatar
            Jo Schmo

            That sounds like a fair compromise. Can you pick the coaster?

          2. vwminispeedster Avatar

            clutch discs?

      2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        They might infect something. But the LeMons trophies are cooler than any other award.
        Maybe your wife would reconsider if you gave her her engine back now. Besides, it sounds pretty busted up. Why can't wives have better engines?

        1. pj134 Avatar

          A good husband would put one of these in it.

          1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

            That was considered recently… She is indeed getting a new motor but she does not know it yet.
            I keep telling her it is for the ZomBee… details to follow in a few months.

  7. The Professor Avatar
    The Professor

    Congratulations and well done, Pete! And about bloody time, too. Now, on to next year and Utter Dominance!

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      + for the magic bolding of text.

  8. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    I also met BriantheHoon momentarily at the track, another great Hoon-personality. If any of you guys are ever at the track and see us, stop on by and introduce yourselves! We'll either be happy to chat, or knee-deep in grease and confused.

    1. Jo Schmo Avatar
      Jo Schmo

      if I ever meet you at the track I will happily share whatever beer I have on my person and simultaneously pick up a wrench and start hitting and/or fixing things with you.

  9. ReverendDexter Avatar

    Urm… Buttonwillow isn't in Willows, that's Thunderhill.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Oops, fixed! Good catch! Damn near every @#$% track in California seems to be willow-something… it confuses my few remaining brain cells once in a while.

  10. vwminispeedster Avatar

    I knew the MG before it was a ZomBee…… circa 2009

    1. Jo Schmo Avatar
      Jo Schmo

      oh snap! now see what you done did?

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      I was the only one waiting outside Toro Park for the 2009 Concours d'LeMons at 6:00 AM when the locked gate was scheduled to be opened. I had just driven my own MGB tow vehicle one thousand miles to get there and was starting to get nervous after about twenty minutes of seeing no signs of any activity. Finally I got out and walked past the gate, then wandered deeper into the park until I at last saw the Galbraiths (whom I hadn't yet met) setting up some gear.
      As I approached to ask whether there was indeed going to be a show at this location, I then noticed precisely one entry that had been dropped off the previous night: my first-ever sighting of Pete's (not-yet-ZomBee) Killer Bee. That's when I knew I was in the right place.

      1. vwminispeedster Avatar

        That show was terrific. I was overjoyed getting the French Legion of DisHonor with our rearended DS. Thankfully that car has sacrificed it's healthy bits so that other DSs may roam the earth. I really need to get to the Washington LeMons race this summer and see how you folks roll in grunge and good beer country.

  11. coupeZ600 Avatar

    Congratulations, guys! And great write-up too, Sparky. And if there's a HPOTY this post gets my vote.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Aw shucks, thanks!

  12. LTDScott Avatar

    Good job, Pete. I was thrilled to see you guys win a trophy. You certainly had a much better weekend than I did, heh.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Ya, no kidding! I feel like I dodged a bullet not pitting with you, lol!

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        That's an understatement. I also have to admit that I stole your comment about being "sucked into the vortex." It fit the situation so well.

  13. lilwillie Avatar

    I find no coincidence that the story above this one is about what other racers should be documented. I want more Zombee.

  14. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    The Bee is the vehicular embodiment of Chuck Norris. Old, yes. Beat up, yes. No one is sure why it is still working, yes.
    But it can roundhouse kick lesser piles of crap into the crusher.

  15. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Great post! Are those pollen balls? Antennae? They're silly whatever they are, that's good.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      They started off as antennae, but now serve to warn faster cars (everybody) where we are and which way we are moving (G-force indicators).
      And now they light up!
      <img src="; width="600">

  16. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Sounds funnier than it really is.
    To me.

  17. Captain Tinyvette Avatar
    Captain Tinyvette

    Congratulations, Captain Pete and lesser Zombees! Great story, too.
    A picture our our two cars, side-by-side in T2 at Infineon, is on the cover of our team calendar. Alan and I took a calendar to each of the two shops in town that have helped us out, and at both they just looked at that picture, pointed to your car, and asked, "What the hell is that?" One of them eventually figured out it was an MGB, but the other shop couldn't. It's an awesome car.
    Oh, and leave the lights on the car for the next 24 hour race.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Graciously provided by Captain Tinyvette… this is damn cool.
      And look how Huge the Bee is!
      <img src="; width="500">

  18. Spank Avatar

    Hate to break it to ya, Pete; The Austin America was faster than you. At least according to the posted fastest lap times. Not sure which of the motors was in it when that happened, though. Now the SIMCA, mmmm, not so much.
    Congrats on your class C win, though. It took me flying half way across the country and driving someone else's car before I could claim I was on a Class-C winning team (NSF's 65 Plymouth Barracuda).

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      DOGH!! I meant your Simca!! (secretly changes post) You got so many weirdo crapheaps it's hard to keep them all straight. Was it 4 or 5 at the race this time?
      Ladies and gentlemen, meet Spank, the man at the center of that "Hardcore C-class compound", the one even *I* think is nuts. 🙂

  19. rcnetworksracing Avatar

    As a Lesser Zombee team member at Arse Freeza Palooza 2011, There were a number of contributing factors to the Bee victory, as mentioned above, but the team drivers powered by Pete willed this little car to go and go and go…It was a true marathon. Looking at the lap times our average was well in the 2:40's per lap. all the cars around us were in the 2:25's or lower. This was won by strategy in the pits and good planning by our team. We were well prepared to get a little lucky when the LaHonda Porsche 914 retired late sunday sealing the deal…
    This was the same team as last year that ran this event, we are good friends, brought together by Pete from different parts of California and Arizona, and we look forward to Bee racing again soon! We are glad in a small way to help Pete win his first class victory!

  20. parkwood60 Avatar

    I would love to pit the "Horrible 1979 Futura" with the rest of you C class guys next time. I was thinking back, and I don't think our 2 car ever got anywhere near each other on the track either. The lap times were so similar and we never started at the same time and the same place. Our fastest lap was a 2:36.5. We were slowed down by my insistence that we keep the auto tranny in D for our first race in order to keep the rods inside where they belong.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      That would be awesome!
      I remember seeing the Futura heading back out to the track and took a double-take, where did THEY come from? We usually see every car at least once an hour as they fly by so you must have been our orbiting twin. 🙂
      We plan on being a bit quicker this year. This will undoubtedly end with tears and broken dreams.

  21. Chuck Goolsbee Avatar
    Chuck Goolsbee

    It was a pleasure sharing the track with you guys. The great thing about racing Lemons is the at least once-per-lap laugh out loud moments. Your team provided me with a few at Buttonwillow, as well as some serious admiration at Grass Valley. See you next year!

  22. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Thanks man! See ya on the track!!