The Year in 24 Hours of LeMons: A hazy 2014 retrospective, part two

Yesterday, I wrote a characteristically long-winded recap of the 2014 24 Hours of LeMons season that had it all: Words, bad jokes, deliberately incorrect racetrack names, and words.
So many words.
Today, I bring you a gift: These two droids. Both are hard-working and will serve you well Some good ol’ geeky number crunching. Follow the jump for a quick refresher on how I crunch the numbers, what kinds of cars fared well, and which teams had good/bad/completely OK seasons.



Around this time last year, I published a series of posts examining which car types have done best in LeMons history. To accomplish that, I developed Detached, Objective Measure INdicating Awful-To-Incredible OrderiNg (DOMINATION) Factor, which was basically a way of describing relative success when compared with an average finish. It is calculated thusly:
DOMINATION Factor (DF) = Actual Distance Driven (in Laps) / Average Lap Total
Basically, this is an overwrought way of comparing how well a car does on its own (Laps driven) and how well that compares with the rest of the field (the average laps). DF is most accurate with large numbers; somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 data points were used for last year’s Torture Test.
This year, however, I wanted to use DF to describe how the 2014 season went with regard to car types, which means smaller sample sizes and probably more room for error. Nevertheless, it’s a compelling list. Oh drat, this is getting rather dry, so here’s a picture of a Datsun Z made up like the Jaguar E-Type Hearse from Harold and Maude.
Excitement! OK, back to nerd stuff.
Additionally, I wanted to see what DF looks like in miniscule applications, so I dredged up team DOMINATION Factors for teams with two or more entries this season. That list is interesting again and somewhat spotty in its accuracy because of the extremely small sample sizes and other biases, but again, the list is compelling and worth discussing for its own merits. But we’ll get to that.
If you’re still reading, thank you/I’m sorry.


So here it is, the thing that you didn’t know you weren’t waiting for: The 2014 Car Type DOMINATION Factor, which shows you who was Dominating LeMons this past season, a goal that is totally worth its toil and financial burden. As noted above, the smaller sample size than last year’s number-crunching so take the results with a large grain of salt.
To make this list somewhat reasonably sized, I’ve limited it to car types with entries of 10 or more. For no good reason, I’ve also included what classes each type’s entries have run in.

Type DOM Factor  # Entries  Class A  Class B  Class C 
Mercedes-Benz 1.159 29 9 15 5
BMW E30 1.122 118 109 7 2
BMW 2002 1.119 18 4 13 1
Mazda Miata 1.111 63 61 2 0
Acura Integra 1.110 47 41 5 1
Toyota Celica RWD 1.106 15 2 11 2
Geo Metro 1.105 15 4 7 4
Volvo 200 1.103 49 27 17 5
Datsun/Nissan Z 1.099 54 35 19 0
Volvo 700 1.093 11 6 5 0
Chrysler Neon 1.092 26 14 12 0
Subaru 1.081 30 7 19 4
Pontiac Fiero 1.077 14 0 10 4
BMW E28/E34 1.069 49 41 8 0
GM Truck 1.066 23 1 12 10
Ford Escort/Mazda B platform 1.061 42 20 22 2
GM FWD 1.060 13 1 9 3
Nissan Sentra 1.044 15 8 5 2
Ford Panther platform 1.040 25 6 18 1
Alfa Romeo 1.032 30 21 9 0
BMW E36 1.031 69 65 4 0
Mazda RX-7 1.021 69 62 6 1
Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon 1.018 12 7 5 0
Honda Civic/CRX/Del Sol 1.012 105 59 42 4
Porsche 924/944 1.006 48 35 10 3
Ford Mustang 0.991 99 53 41 5
BMW Other 0.991 17 6 10 1
Volkswagen, Water-Cooled 0.984 92 40 50 2
Honda Acccord 0.968 15 3 11 1
Toyota Supra 0.963 17 14 2 1
Ford Focus 0.960 14 13 1 0
Audi 0.958 42 31 10 1
GM Monza/Skyhawk 0.954 10 2 2 6
Saab 0.952 16 5 8 3
GM F-Body 0.941 64 33 30 1
Ford Fox platform 0.933 20 10 5 5
Volvo Other 0.899 11 2 6 3
Ford Pinto 0.876 15 2 11 2
Honda Prelude 0.876 23 14 7 2
GM J-Body 0.862 17 1 12 4
Toyota MR2 0.858 55 30 25 0
Ford MN12 0.846 20 7 13 0
Ford Mondeo platform 0.830 10 1 7 2
Nissan 240SX 0.821 19 19 0 0
Toyota Corolla 0.808 14 5 6 3
Datsun Other 0.776 12 5 1 6
Ford Taurus 0.747 13 12 1 0
Volkswagen, Air-Cooled 0.741 18 2 2 14
All French 0.735 9 0 3 6
Chrysler K and Friends 0.720 13 3 3 7
Saturn 0.714 36 13 22 1
All British 0.690 46 2 10 34

Let’s just cover some of the salient points here:

  • All of Mercedes was lumped in together: everything from tractor-speed diesels to The Syndicate’s snail-pace 450SEL to RC Spiders’ Cosworth-powered 190E. It’s incredibly impressive that the DF for the whole make is considerably higher than any other model of car. Of course, RC Spiders’ three wins and a second place probably boosted that number significantly and many of the Mercedes teams have developed their cars over years, but it says something that only four of the 29 Mercedes entries this year finished with below-average lap totals. This begs the question: Why aren’t more teams racing Mercedes?
  • As we noted yesterday, BMW 3 Series failed to win a single race despite having the most entries of any car type this year. The E30 still finished second-highest in DF, so it seems the type’s failure to win was a fluke of sorts.
  • The top of the list is generally unsurprising except the BMW 2002, which is far higher than most people would expect. The same applies to the older rear-wheel-drive Toyota Celicas, which could potentially be Class B ringers.
  • The Geo Metro is also high on the list, which is probably surprising to anyone not familiar with LeMons. If you are a regular LeMons follower, though, you probably already know that the Metro is a popular crapcan platform to hack up to install an overpowered engine, like the Honda CBR in the Geo Metro Gnome or the V6 from a Ford Taurus SHO in Charnal House’s MetSHO.


  • Both Subaru and the Pontiac Fiero have developed a reputation for being unreliable in LeMons, but both types performed well this year. Subaru remains winless in crapcan history, but this could be a step toward finally rectifying that. Meanwhile, the teams that run Fieros in LeMons have generally been loyal to the cars for years and appear to have at last worked most of the bugs out of the troublesome result of General Motors parts-bin raiding.
  • As we discovered in the Torture Test last year, the Ford Mustang is generally a better crapcan pony car than its GM F-Body rivals (Camaros, Firebirds, and Cameros). The numbers from this season confirm that. That said, the Mustang’s myriad of cousins built on the Ford Fox platform fared slightly worse than the F-Body in 2014.
  • The Toyota MR2 is a pretty miserable budget endurance racer, coming in behind General Motors’ J platform and the Ford Pinto.
  • It was, however, a rough year for many Ford platforms: The MN12s were predictably bad, the Mondeos were awful (in a small sample size), and the Ford Taurus was a hot mess.


  • Is anybody surprised to see the Chrysler K-Car (and its derivatives), French cars, or British cars at the bottom of the list? No. Here’s the shocking part: Saturns did worse this year than the K-Car and its related platforms.
  • In case you missed that last point: Saturns were worse than Chryslers bargain-bin K-Cars in 2014.



As promised, what follows is analysis that is probably not statistically significant but it more or less a ploy for me to find things about which to write. This is, of course, not unusual for me, but it will serve to highlight some teams that had good seasons and point out some teams that probably would have won races with some slightly better luck.
These collective DOMINATION Factors are based on teams with two or more entries this season. That could be two cars in one race under the same name, two or more entries with the same car in several races, or some combination thereof. You can see where this might be inaccurate: A team with four stellar races but one extremely unlucky race could average out below a team with a pair of 12th-place finishes, depending on how competitive the relative races were.
To that last point of race competitivieness, the sheer size of an average California race seems to skew the best DF heavily toward West Coast teams so I’ve noted which from which region each of the top competitors usually race. For the most part, I didn’t break down multiple-car teams into their constituent DOMINATION parts, but a couple of notable single cars from multiple car teams popped up during the number crunching:

  • Hella Sh***y Racing’s #6 BMW E30 (above)—the one with the stock M20 engine rather than the one with the more powerful M30 swap in the team’s #5 E30—had the highest season DOMINATION Factor with 1.617, although they entered only two races. The combined DF of Hella Sh***y’s four cars over the season was still a very impressive 1.377. Also noteworthy: The team’s captain, Chris Blizzard, bribed me at Thunderhill with the very laptop from which these words were typed. To Mr. Blizzard: I apologize that the only form of patronage I can supply  is a mention 2,000 words deep into an oddly specific post in a strange corner of the automotive Internet that is a curiosity to passersby.


  • Tired Iron Racing ran a pair of cars this year and are noteworthy because of the incredible polarity of their two cars. Their “good” car, a Mazda Miata (above) mentioned yesterday, finished in the Top 3 twice and in the Top 10 at every 2014 California race. If it was only that car, Tired Iron’s 1.56 DF would have been second best. Incredibly, their second car, a Honda CRX, racked up a pitiful 0.110 DF in two races, which would have been the second-worst DOMINATION Factor. Talk about polar opposites; the combination of them does not average out to exactly 1.00, but it’s not far off at 1.078. Still, I think the Tired Iron Miata could luck into a win in 2015.

Enough of that, though. Let’s look at the best teams of 2014, the worst teams of 2014, and—most importantly—the most-average teams of 2014.
By the way, you can find the full list of 2014 Team DOMINATION Factors on Google Drive here to see where you, your friends, your enemies, and those about whom you pretend not to care finished relative to each other this season in LeMons.


It’s interesting to note that the highest-finishing team on this list with ana ctual win had the sixth-best DOMINATION Factor, but we’ll talk about that below the chart. Generally, the huge car counts and the higher attrition at California races seems to drive the average lap count down, resulting in the front of the field scoring far above average in DF.
In the less-populated regions like the Gulf and Midwest, the smaller car counts and seemingly abundant cars in the middle of the attrition knocks the races’ DFs down a bit. This writer suggests that the regular competitors in the smaller races of those middle-American regions compete on a fairly even playing field, all with similar capability and more or less similar experience.

Competitor Car DOM Factor, Avg  Region
The Faustest Team BMW E30 1.565 West
Super Troop Mercury Zephyr 1.543 West
Sour Aviation Racing Ford Mustang 1.525 West
Team Shocker Acura Integra 1.514 Gulf
Cerveza Racing BMW E28 1.504 West
BAR(F) Honda Honda Accord 1.497 East
Expendable BMW E30 1.49 West
Team SOB – Sick of Breaking! VW GTI 1.487 South
Massholes Ford Escort ZX2 1.487 East
Near-Orbital Space Monkeys Ford Mustang 1.479 East
Car-B-Q Nissan 300ZX 1.474 Gulf
RC Spiders Mercedes 190E 1.474 South
Too Stupid To Know Better Volvo 740 1.473 West
12 more cars
Back To The Past Nissan 300ZX 1.433 Midwest-ish

Talking points? I can give you some talking points.

    • The Faustest Team (above) have yet to snag a win, but they are one of the absolute fastest cars and teams in a fast region. The same applies to Sour Aviation Racing, who put up three second-place finishes in three races. this year Either or both should get a win in 2015, except I just jinxed the crap out of them. Sorry about that.


    • The biggest surprise is the Fox-Body Mercury Zephyr of Super Troop (above). Their big DF was buoyed by a fourth-place finish at Buttonwillow, where the scorching desert temperatures killed so many cars that Cerveza Racing’s winning DF was 1.803 and Super Troop tallied an impressive 1.721.
    • Speaking of Cerveza, their two wins gave them eight total wins in the least four seasons and those two 2014 wins averaged 1.713 DF, but some tough breaks at Sonoma Raceway lowered that average significantly.
    • Team Shocker did well with a second-place finish at the second-highest DF race at Eagles Canyon, where extreme weather of the opposite order to Buttonwillow caused higher-than-normal attrition.
    • In the East, BAR(F) Honda (formerly Bill Danger), Massholes, and Near-Orbital Space Monkeys performing well should be no surprise. Those teams are all staples of the Top 5 in the region.


    • In the South, however, Team SOB managed to keep their Volkswagen GTI (above) running well enough in two races at Carolina Motorsports Park to finish third and fourth overall. This came after several years of finishing well outside the Top 10 so their inclusion here might be the best story of them all.
    • Finally, Back to the Past won three races and ran two “Midwest” races to boot at High Plains Raceway (which they didn’t win) and Autobahn Country Club (which they did win). Their DF was still relatively low but better than any of the full-time racers from the Midwest, where the racing is, again, very close statistically.


There’s a general idea about LeMons racers that many of them are masochists and that spending a weekend wrenching instead of racing is some kind of incredible honor. Almost as though it’s just Part of the Series that is supposed to be fun. Let me let you in on a little secret: It’s not usually very fun. While many of the teams at the bottom of the DF list have fun wrenching and/or talking about what might have been, they still emerge from weekends frustrated.
What frequently happens, however, is that many of these are first- or second-time teams just wrapping their heads around the many curveballs beater-endurance-racing presents. A great many teams have started with DFL performances and turned their efforts around to become solid Top 10 teams. So while this may seem like kicking some racers while they’re down, it’s not. The hardest part of racing is dealing with disappointment, but I’d expect a few on this list to become solid LeMons contenders in a year or two (and a few already are).

Competitor Car DOM Factor AVG Region
Emily’s Power for a Cure Mazda RX-7 0.028 South
Bay-tona 500 Audi A4 0.138 West
Grocery Getter Racing Jeep Cherokee 0.15 Midwest
United America Wrenchers Austin America 0.15 Gulf
SchtuffNZPants Racing BMW E36 0.203  West
Team Pigasus BMW E30 0.213 South
Shark Bait Racing Datsun 280ZX 0.219 South
Brooklyn Bomb Squad Audi 100 0.226 East
LooneyTuners Volvo 240 0.261 East
Pink Lady Toyota Celica 0.272 West
Butt Sweat and Beers Volkswagen Rabbit 0.279 Midwest
Mostly Harmless Racing Mercury Capri 0.287 Gulf
Rotomotosport nj Merkur XR4Ti 0.309 East
Unified Partnership of Pentastar Racers Plymouth Sundance 0.314 Midwest
Smokin’ Track Mercury Cougar 0.321 South
White Trash Ken/Barbie Racing Saturn SC2 0.355 West

The low points:

    • The Emily’s Power for the Cure team (above) has one thing going for them: consistency. In two Southern races this year, they clocked seven laps in each race. That’s disappointing to see for a team that, judging by their name, is using LeMons as a charity fundraiser (a pretty common thing, actually). So should they dig up their moral fortitude to bring their RX-7 back—and we hope they do—we’ll root for them to do better and you should, too.
    • The Bay-Tona Audi is symptomatic of the things that ail the entire Four Rings brand when they depreciate to LeMons prices. Despite the sterling endurance-racing reputation of Audi since 1999, their road-car offerings before that time have proven less-than-capable.


    • In the “This is hardly surprising” category, you can find the Austin America built out of busted-ass spare Austin parts, Grocery Getter’s Jeep Cherokee that showed up to its first (and second) race not totally finished, Rotomotosport’s Merkur (which despite its troubles is a media darling), the notorious Pentastar Duster with karate-carb action (shown above), and the White Trash Barbie/Ken Saturns, a team who repeatedly drag their identically awful SC2s en masse to California races.
    • Mostly Harmless Racing had a dreadful season after a terrific 2013. Had they managed to win one of the two Texas races, their Capri would have become the first team to win all three classes with the same car. Instead, they completely failed to dominate. I’d expect the Miata’s quirky and unloved cousin to bounce back in 2015.



At last, we reach the real point of LeMons: Complete and total mediocrity.
These teams averaged average finishes, probably while getting the full LeMons experience of racing, fixing some stuff, racing for a bit, breaking some more things, sending clueless teammates to the parts store, making frantically frustrated phone calls, swearing, fixing the car in the meantime with ingenuity/not knowing better, racing for a bit more, catching the car on fire, trailering its smoldering remains, having a frosty beer after the checkered flag, and high-fiving each other for being completely amazing at endurance racing.
Without further adieu, The Real Winners of LeMons:

Competitor Car DOM Factor AVG  Region
Tetanus Racing A whole bunch of cars 0.998 Gulf
Fire in the Hole Racing Mazda MX-3 0.998 West
Zombie Round-up Porsche 944 0.997 West
Dirt Poor-sche Racing Porsche 928 0.997 Midwest
Space Racing BMW E28 0.996 West
Team Fairlylame Ford Fairlane 0.995 South
Team Dead Cat BMW E36 0.993 West
European Dent Crisis BMW 2002 0.993 East
Floodstang Ford Mustang 1.008 East
The Fat and the Furious Geo Metro 1.008 West
Team Apathy Honda Z600 1.008 West

Some moderately interesting words.

    • Of all the teams in the LeMons world, I think Tetanus Racing is likely to be the most-OK with utter mediocrity. The Gulf Region team have raced the same Dodge Neon (above) since the region’s first race in 2008 and have since grown to a four-car team with a Porsche 944, a Volkswagen Passat (NSF Racing’s old car that caught fire and went to automotive heaven this year), another Porsche 944 with a Buick 3800 V6 shoved in it, and a terrible BMW E30. Those entries’ finishing positions all came out to as close to perfectly average as any other team in the country.


    • Fire the In Hole matched Tetanus’ mediocrity with their MX-3, a car that seems to get forgotten frequently in the pantheon of 1990s Japanese imports. It’s a pity, that; I rather like the MX-3.
    • Team Fairlylame are the only Index of Effluency winners in this list, having won that honor at Sebring in July. Their Fairlane may have finished in the middle of LeMons-dom, but that’s no small feat in a 50-year-old car.
    • Two mid-engine-swapped subcompacts finished in the middle of the field, as well. The Fat and the Furious bought the old Geo Metro Gnome before this season and after some initial struggles with the Honda CBR-swapped Geo Metro, they started to find some pace in the car. It may very well contend within a year or two if it doesn’t completely fall apart.


    • More interestingly in the mid-engined subcompacts, Team Apathy were totally average in their Honda N600 with a turbocharged Saab engine mounted amidships. Prior to this season, this car would have been on the “Worst” list, so their inclusion in this list instead marks a drastic improvement for the car with the puzzling engine swap.

That seems like a good place to wrap it up for LeMons coverage on Hooniverse for 2014. It’s been a long year of great racing and teams continue to up the ante on what they’ll attempt to race. This is a trend we’re hoping continues; we know of one LeMons Legend with potentially the most LeMony car in history, but we’re sworn to secrecy while he/she/it searches for the right time to unveil it.
The “offseason” is as short as it has ever been this winter with the 2015 campaign starting in just a few short weeks at Sonoma Raceway, the first of three races on the calendar at that track. Check back in a few weeks for a preview of that race and come back frequently this season for more coverage of the 24 Hours of LeMons on Hooniverse.
[Photos: Murilee Martin]

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16 responses to “The Year in 24 Hours of LeMons: A hazy 2014 retrospective, part two”

  1. jeepjeff Avatar

    Words, bad jokes, deliberately incorrect racetrack names, and words.
    As a Bay Area Hoon, I really appreciated your careful use of Sonoma Raceway's proper name every time it was mentioned.

  2. jeepjeff Avatar

    In case you missed that last point: Saturns were worse than Chryslers bargain-bin K-Cars in 2014.
    MOPAR OR NO CAR!!!1!

  3. Nuclearspork Avatar

    The real question no one cares about is which do better teams who enter Camaros or teams who enter Cameros.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    "…totally average in their Honda N600 with a turbocharged Saab engine mounted amidships."
    That this statement can be true is a fair summary of why I love this series and that car.

  5. AlanF Avatar

    If I can't be at the top of the list, I can at least have pride in helping to hold down the absolute bottom of the list: All British.
    Perhaps someday we can see it broken into two categories: Humber and All Other British. 🙂

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      With apologies to Pete and so many others, I believe the categories should be Humber and Lesser British.

      1. Armand4 Avatar

        Let's make it "Rootes and Lesser British" so that we don't forget the Imp.

        1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

          GAAH!! <shakes fists>

  6. dustin Avatar

    yeah we are on the "real winners" list, despite having a E-36.

  7. Corey Dickman Avatar
    Corey Dickman

    And the Rambler, that is now destined to explode, is dead smack in the middle of the spradsheet, just like it comes in at the end of the race. Have a great New Year's everyone!

  8. Gerry Ringle Avatar
    Gerry Ringle

    Geeze…the Inglorious Bastards crossed 19 States in 2014 to race and didn't even rate a you suck mention!

  9. ninjacoco Avatar

    Der Porschelump is WAY too high on that domination list. I question your numbers, good sir. We're awful.
    And how the heck did someone sneak a 924/944 into C?! We've been begging for Class C from the start!

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      I wonder if that wasn't the Nissan Sentra powered 944 of Sputnik Racing.

      1. ninjacoco Avatar

        Maybe an original 924 with the Audi 2.0?
        I MUST KNOW.

        1. Eric Rood Avatar
          Eric Rood

          Poor engine choices will put you in Class C. It was Sputnik's GA16-powered 924 and F.A.C.E.'s 4.3L Chebby V6-swapped 924, as NuclearSpork alluded to below.
          <img src="; width="600">
          <img src="; width="600">

    2. Nuclearspork Avatar

      could be the midwest one that has been extremely awful with the gm v6 4.3 (unreliable heavy engine) mated to the porsche trans (unreliable really hard to work on) that is also normally pretty slow when on the track.