24 Hours of LeMons Utah: The Winners!

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Top
We saw an exceptionally good field of LeMons cars inspected on Friday, watched three European cars take class leads on Saturday, and now the checkered flag has signaled the end of Sunday’s race session and we’ve got the winners of the first annual Return of the LeMonites 24 Hours of LeMons for you.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Class A 2
Getting the most overall laps and taking the Class A win in the process, we have the first-ever Volvo-engined Volvo to get an overall 24 Hours of LeMons win (a Ford 302-powered Volvo 244, built by a team that included your LeMons correspondent back in 2008, won the 2009 Arse Sweat-a-Palooza race). In fact, the Too Stupid To Know Better Volvo 740 Turbo may be the first Volvo 700 Series to climb out of the mud of the bottom part of a LeMons race’s standings.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Class A 1
The Too Stupid To Know Better drivers ran a near-perfect race and their car suffered not a single hiccup. Their 740 wagon wasn’t the fastest thing on the track, but a combination of reliability, take-no-chances driving, and good fuel discipline gave the team a win with a five-lap cushion. Congratulations, Too Stupid To Know Better!

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Class B 1
The Class B prize went to Dirty Duck Racing, who finally took a proper LeMons class win after five years of trying. They spent the weekend locked in a deadly battle with the Pinto Beans Ford Pinto, eventually taking the win by seven laps.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Class C 1
After several California races in which their Porsche 914 struggled to climb into the top half of the standings, Team Village People managed to annihilate the Class C competition in Utah. When the race ended, the Village People had a ludicrous 95-lap lead over the nearest class challenger, which means that the Porsche could have exploded more than three hours prior to the checkered flag and still won.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Class C Macho Cop
Welcome to Class B, officer!

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Heroic Fix 2
The Most Heroic Fix trophy went to a team that repaired major, crippling failures in their tow vehicle, their trailer, and their race car. The list of problems and fixes is far to long to enumerate in any detail here, but the condensed version of obstacles surmounted by The New York Rock Exchange includes the following: RV ignition-system failure, trailer suspension failure, RV exterior panels torn off, RV interior destroyed by unintended TV-antenna deployment, race car transmission failure, RV engine fire, and (we’re assuming here) the tires gnawed off the trailer by rabid skunks.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Heroic Fix 1
Not only did the New York Rock Exchange guys surmount every one of these difficulties, they kept their sense of humor and even managed to feed a large percentage of their fellow racers on Saturday night.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Heroic Fix 3
What really made their fixes heroic, in our eyes, was the use of 24 Hours of LeMons stickers as part of the RV-siding repair.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - I Got Screwed 1
Normally, when you’re the first team to bring a Rover SD1 to a LeMons race, and it (sort of) runs for much of the weekend, you can just about count on getting a major trophy.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - I Got Screwed 2
The Flaming A-Holes spent the weekend fighting electrical fires and fuel-system woes, and their Rover turned a miraculous 261 laps, but they had the misfortune to bring their car to a race with a huge glut of spectacular cars. For having the Index of Effluency and Organizer’s Choice trophies snatched from their grasp (much like British Leyland workers having their benefits axed by Maggie Thatcher), the Flaming A-Holes received the not-very-coveted I Got Screwed award.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Miracle of the Gulls 2
For our region-specific trophy at the Return of the LeMonites race, we took inspiration from a local legend: the Miracle of the Gulls. When the Bangers N Mash team’s Jensen-Healey threw a connecting rod early on Saturday, the chances of finding a super-rare Lotus 907 replacement engine seemed about nil. You might find a few of these super-rare motors squirreled away in garages in Los Angeles or Detroit, but in Utah on a Saturday? No way.

But Bangers N Mash made a few inquiries and found that a local racer had a working Lotus 907 stashed under a workbench in a garage about 50 yards from the stricken Jensen-Healey. They bought it, swapped it, and raced all day Sunday.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Judges' Choice 2
8-Bit Racing killed the engine in their rare Subaru RX about 25 seconds into the race, which made your weird-80s-Japanese-car-loving LeMons correspondent very sad.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Judges' Choice 1
However, the 8-Bit guys rounded up a junkyard short-block— not a turbocharged one, so the compression ratio was too high and the oiling system was all wrong, but they didn’t let that stop them— and spent many hours swapping it into their Subaru. It worked! For that accomplishment, the LeMons Supreme Court gave 8-Bit Racing the Judges’ Choice award.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - Organizer's Choice
Choosing the Organizer’s Choice winner wasn’t difficult this time. Just look at the box flares on the Joseph the Amazing Technicolor Dream Car BMW E21!

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - IOE 2
Another very easy decision came when we had to select the winner of the top prize of 24 Hours of LeMons Racing: the Index of Effluency. The Grumpy Cat Racing 1950 Dodge pickup was the oldest vehicle ever to compete in a LeMons race, it raced with its original 216-cubic-inch Chrysler flathead I6 engine and granny-gear non-syncromesh transmission, it had sat dead for many decades prior to the race, and it looked beautiful. Even if it had gone around the track a mere dozen times, those factors would have made it the top IOE contender… but the old Dodge racked up an astounding 250 laps, which comes to 560 miles of full-throttle abuse on a truck that nobody expected to survive more than about 15 minutes.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - IOE 3
Just two weeks ago, this truck was an inert, forgotten hulk in the weeds behind a Denver auto-repair shop. The owner’s teammates abandoned him when they realized the magnitude of their task, and all seemed lost. Then, thanks to the very supportive LeMons community and the big-hearted members of Denver-based Speed Holes Racing and Rocket Surgery Racing, an all-out thrash in the days before the race got the ancient Dodge running, turning, stopping, equipped with a roll cage, fuel cell, race seat, and all the other things a race car needs.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - IOE 4
The truck passed the tech inspection the first time through, which was impressive. Even more impressive, however, was the fact that this 64-year-old derelict ran all weekend without a single major mechanical problem; those of you who have followed LeMons racing for a while know that even a brand-new car would have a tough time surviving an entire race weekend, and that it normally takes several races to work the reliability bugs out of any LeMons race machine. Yes, it burned a lot of oil. Yes, it was very, very slow (though the drivers were able to pass a few no-doubt-startled competitors). Yes, the spectators cheered every time they saw it lumbering into view.

Return of the LeMonItes Winners - IOE 1
P43 out of 67 entries, no black flags, drivers from Colorado, California, and Texas, plus an unprecedented display of durability add up to the easiest Index of Effluency decision in 24 Hours of LeMons history. Well done, Grumpy Cat Racing!

About Murilee Martin