Video: Night and day and repeat with ChumpCar


I’ve written about Spokane County Raceway before because I find the circuit alluring for its intimidating demeanor.  Ominous black smudges dot the front straight’s concrete barriers where previous drivers have “kissed” it, while much of the track’s remaining boundaries are lined with berms that can seriously rearrange a racecar’s body panels. After the sun sets, the barriers flash by, reflecting carefully aimed light beams back into the driver’s periphery. On the back half, the berms loom just visible enough to remind drivers of an excursion’s dangers. To complicate matters further, the edges of the track are loose dirt, so when the car ahead drops a tire onto it, the driver is suddenly driving through a dust cloud.

“Forgiving” is not in Spokane’s vocabulary, though you might find “grueling” in its glossary. Naturally, this was the perfect setting for ChumpCar World Series’ 36-hour race earlier this month. Few teams avoided time-consuming repairs. A handful found misadventures of varying calibers during the day-and-a-half event, yet the race produced a riveting final hour wrought with drama.


Even with just 49 entries on 2.25 miles of racing surface, cars occasionally bunch up into small packs. The slightest mistake at night can create a disorienting mess, as the #8 My Little Pony Ford Mustang driver found out when the #15 NNM Motorsports (mid-engined) Dodge Neon spins into his path. The resulting crash required a lengthy fix for the Mustang, which went on to finish 19th in the race.


Contrast that with the daytime visibility for the rest of the race, as the #44 Crapst Blue Ribbon Toyota MR2 puts in a lap-and-a-half about halfway through the race, which includes a three-wide pass on the front straight while the scenery streaks by at speeds approaching triple digits. The drivers all telegraph their moves and leave plenty of space, but one can’t help but feel a bit of tension as the eventual race-winning #25 Squirrels of Fury Volkswagen Rabbit moves over to pass slower traffic.

Of course, those are just two vignettes (totaling something like 1/540 or 0.1 percent of the race’s duration) for an event that spanned almost an entire weekend, hurtling through 16 hours of darkness and two sunrises without pause.

[Source: YouTube via ChumpCar Forum, YouTube]

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12 responses to “Video: Night and day and repeat with ChumpCar”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    So I've seen a couple of mentions of ChumpCar recently. Is this considered a competitor to LeMons racing?

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      Basically, yes. Same basic concept, but some difference in rules. ChumpCar was formed by a former track owner and LeMons racer.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      I've only ever raced (well, let's say "participated") in LeMons, but I once read the difference as "LeMons is a bunch of idiots who think they are race car drivers, and ChumpCar is a bunch of race car drivers who think they are idiots."
      From what I can tell this pretty much boils down to a slight difference in emphasis.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Yeah, I've heard that too. Seems that Chump car has less of the carnival atmosphere surrounding it, but frankly I like that aspect of it.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Our team is in LeMons for the cutthroat racing competition but we can't seem to get the other teams to notice this.

          1. Eric Rood Avatar
            Eric Rood

            You should probably make it louder.

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            Hey, I paid good money for that exhaust system a little over a decade ago. It's staying as-is until it drops off the car of its own accord.

    3. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      ChumpCar stems from the same basic premise of "$500" cars (heavy emphasis on the quotes) with some notable distinctions, namely a different car valuing system, single-class racing, and no black flag silliness aside from stop-and-hold penalties. They also tend to run faster tracks.
      That said, the series are closely related enough that teams run the same cars in both series and the top teams in one tend to be the top teams in the other.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        I'm not sure how I feel about the black flags. LeMons folks say Chump is lax in enforcing rules which has caused aggressive/destructive driving, Chump folks say that LeMons is too quick to black flag people for incidents.
        Having said that, in 10+ (I lost count) LeMons races, I have only received one black flag, and that was for going full 4 off. I've had a few bumps here and there where I wasn't called into to the pits, so I think overall it's fair.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    For a temporary threadjack, how about Extreme Barbie Jeep racing?
    [youtube R7yCCcVJE54&list=TLkjk61a0Yq_Q youtube]

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Threadjack? This strikes me as entirely on-topic.
      For any Hooniverse post.

  3. LTDScott Avatar

    Fuu… the night race at Buttonwillow was sketchy enough, and that track is pretty wide open. No thank you!