The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons

The types of cars that really dominated at the Thunderhill 24 Hours of LeMons weren't quite the same as the ones we saw owning at the October race at Altamont. With the track's long straights and the new hardass, black-flag-o-riffic policy about aggressive driving (not to mention the outlawing of nerf bars), straight-line power and sturdy engine internals were far more important than the sticky grip and ability to take repeated impacts that proved so crucial at Altamont. We saw Detroit iron making a far more respectable showing, while the Bavarian Bullies no longer ruled the race. Make the jump to see how things sorted out by the time the Flag That Is Checkered made the scene...



We'll have in-depth coverage of many of these vehicles in the days to come; for now, we'll just provide the occasional note and/or hyperlink the names of those teams we've covered already.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons

1. Red Meat and Poontang
Yes, a Mazda Protege- with catalytic converter and license plates still attached- won it all!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
2. The Latch Key Kids
This is the Neon that had the best overall lap time at the Flat Rock 24 Hours of LeMons. That's right, these madmen came out from the Midwest to feed the LeMons monkey on their backs!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
3. RotorRevenge
In very stark contrast to the Altamont race (where RX-7s died horrible broken-control-arm deaths courtesy of beefy Detroit machinery), rotary Mazdas did just fine at this race. This team had some serious expertise going on, both in the pits and behind the wheel.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
4. Fantasy Junction/Inaccuracy



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
5. Krider Racing/Team O'Slack
This Nissan was fast as hell, as you'd expect from a real SE-R. However, the known difficulty of finding cheap SE-Rs coupled with the nice paint job (applied by a painter buddy) resulted in some suspicion that the spirit- if not the letter- of the $500 limit had been violated. We didn't care, though- your roving Jalopnik correspondents loved seeing this car in action.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
6. The PBRPD
Another Wankel in the Top Ten!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
7. Eyesore Racing
You want consistency? This car finished 7th at the Altamont race, and now (with a new paint job and a bumper-car-inspired sparking power pole on the roof), it has finished 7th at Thunderhill.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
8. Punk Racing
Yes, that's three RX-7s in the Top Ten. This car was put out by the same bunch that was running the #3 finishing Mazda.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
9. Two Wheels Too Many
The reason I did the Top 44 Lemons of LeMons for the Altamont race was that I couldn't find any action photos of the car that finished 45th... this Chevy Cavalier wagon (I felt extra bad about my omission after finding out that our own Xargs was on the team). This car was sidelined after a nasty oil-pan-ectomy administered by a tractor tire at Altamont, but its torquey V6 and wagonly goodness served it well at Thunderhill. Hooray, a Detroit machine in the Top Ten!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
10. Driving While Awesome
We saw these Porsche-thrashing fellas at Altamont, where mechanical woes resulted in a 43rd-place finish. Not so at Thunderhill, where they're standing tall in the Top Ten!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
11. W.S. Auto Crash Test Dummies
We ran into a couple members of this team at the motel bar the night before the race; it was good to see a couple of racing first-timers do so well. Most successful BMW at Thunderhill!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
12. Size Matters Chrysler
The oldest car at the Altamont race was third-oldest at Thunderhill, after the '65 Mustang and '65 Mercedes-Benz. At this track, V8 torque and Mopar reliability carried the Fury to a very respectable finish.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
13. Team Size Matters Sacramento
What are the odds that two teams with "Size Matters" in their names would finish in consecutive spots? We saw this CRX at Altamont, where it finished... 13th. Another consistent CRX!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
14. Snowspeeder Pilots Association
18th place at Altamont, 14th here. Apparently that PVC pipe was a ram-air induction device.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
15. Drift RWD Sport



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
16. Holy Shit It's Cold
A very aptly named team; with daytime temps in the 30s on Saturday, that open cockpit might have been less than comfortable.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
17. Team Festivus
We're not sure what the pole on this car was for- another bumper-car power connector?


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
18. Saabs Gone Wild
Those crazy Saab guys were back, this time with just two turbocharged Swedish screamers and a strong Top Twenty finish. Hey, they beat all the Volvos: Erky derk!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
19. ZZ Uber Das Driver
It was good to see some GTIs duking it out on the track with all those other German cars.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
20. Dirty Drifters
We were really rooting for these guys after their heroic all-night engine swap on Friday, and they piloted their Corolla to a spot in the Top Twenty. We've been promised some cool in-car video from the Drifters, so stay tuned!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
21. The Rockford Pile
This car wouldn't have been noticed at the Pumpkin Smash enduro, but it attracted plenty of attention- and fear- on the track at Thunderhill. The engine sounded mighty good out there. This is actually a Firebird with Camaro body parts grafted on; we've got lots of photos of this machine to show you later.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
22. Escape From Detroit Racing



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
23. Team LeMon Martini Racing
A Porsche 914 on the track! This team was the first to run a Porsche at a LeMons event, way back in the day, and they're continuing the tradition here.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
24. Silver Fern Racing



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
25. Mach Schnell
This BMW finished 28th at Altamont, and would have even better than 25th at Thunderhill if it hadn't grenaded its gearbox on Sunday.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
26. DILLIGAF
Here's another Altamont-vet CRX; they finished 14th there. The team's name is an acronym for a question that starts: "Do I Look Like I Give A..."


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
27. Team Nerd Herd



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
28. Team Field Find
This '65 Benz was the obvious crowd favorite, for reasons we're sure we don't need to explain here.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
29. In The Red Racing



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
30. Hall N Assassinators
The hood scoop made from a gas can was a nice touch.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
31. Team Rice & Bean



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
32. Team DDT
This Z woulda been a contender, but one wreck on Saturday put it out for crucial hours and another on Sunday knocked it out for the duration. It was one of the faster cars on the track while it was running.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
33. Bernal Dads



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
34. Team Armageddon
Yes, folks, you're looking at a '65 Mustang. This one ran into some overheating problems, but managed to hang in there and finish the race.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
35. Team Everlast
A mid-90s Caprice; we didn't get a chance to talk with this team, but we assume the car is an ex-police vehicle.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
36. Old Dogs New Tricks
This Chevy-powered Jag placed 12th at Altamont, but its Quadrajet apparently realized it was under a British bonnet and decided to go all British Leyland on the team at the Thunderhill event.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
37. Return of the Hungry Hula
We saw the Tiki Tercel at Altamont, but the clutch failed and couldn't be fixed in time to finish the race. At Thunderhill, however, the gods smiled on their grass-skirted warrior!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
38. Racing With The Devil



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
39. Mazdasaurus Wrecks
This car finished 34th at Altamont... but it didn't finish at all at Thunderhill, its sweet (and expensive) sounding V6 sending it on a date with a front end loader on Sunday.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
40. Cops Gone Naughty



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
41. Team TURD
After placing 17th at Altamont, Team TURD's excessively exuberant driving style led to a lot of unhappy messages spelled out in black-flag semaphore. When it wasn't being docked laps, this Supra was pretty quick around the track.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
42. Prelude To Greatness



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
43. Motoring J-Style
We were really rooting for the I-Mark to win one for Isuzu fans everywhere (there are Isuzu fans, right?), but it was not to be; mechanical difficulties trumped Handling By Lotus.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
44. Formula BMW
RNair's BMW looked great... until the wheel studs tore out of one of the rear hubs.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
45. California Mille
After fixing its dead engine with parts from the Alfetta with a thrown rod, the California Mille Alfetta waved the red, white, and green proudly over Thunderhill.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
46. Team G.I. SHO
This team, comprised entirely of serious Taurus SHO aficionados, weren't able to convince the judges that they got this car for under $500, but they didn't let that stop them from making a valiant attempt to make up all the penalty laps with their hoontastic Yamaha-powered front-driver!


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
47. Pit Crew Revenge
This Civic- in full CalTrans regalia, including signs- blew its transmission on Saturday, but a junkyard run and some frenzied wrenching got it back in action for Sunday's race.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
48. FreeMW Part Deux
Can you really get a 2002 for under $500? These guys did! This car was fun to watch on the track, with plenty of high-drama oversteer and great exhaust sounds.


The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
49. BM Trouble You



The Top 50 Lemons of 24 Hours of LeMons
50. Carpet Pissers
Yes, the Carpet Pissers abide! After their Altamont CRX was completely destroyed at Altamont, they picked up another one for Thunderhill. This time they added more Big Lebowski quotes and a plethora of stuffed marmots. Don't fret, Carpet Pissers fans- more coverage coming soon!