#0: Formula M (As In Mullet), Ford Mustang These guys (check out their site here, then their Flickr set of the race here) are definitely going down in history as the givers of the greatest bribe in LeMons history. First they put a high-quality shrimp cocktail on the judging table, and then they rolled up a huge grille to the judging area and served us Texas-grade bacon-wrapped filet mignon steaks. In addition, their car had by far the best Dangerous Banned Racing Technology device (a recent prize category that rewards sucker fans, active aerodynamic devices, spoilers connected directly to suspensions, etc) we've yet seen in a LeMons race: this electrically-activated air brake, which actually worked quite well at race speed and no doubt cut valuable microseconds off their lap times:
And, let's face it, these guys needed heavy-duty bribes and entertaining hardware on their car, because this car looked incredibly suspicious, so crooked that Boss Tweed would have felt right at home behind the wheel. But still, they'd obviously read The LeMons Cheaters' Guide, and they had a fairly plausible story about buying the car- complete with 347 stroker engine, by a stroke of good fortune- from some 12-toed yokel who just wanted it out of his yard. Some of their documentation smelled a little funny, but at least they tried, and so we took it easy on the lap penalties; as it turned out, they racked up the 2nd-fastest lap time of the race (1:15.982) and finished 10th overall. Read the team's insider account of their adventures here.
#1: Chuck Norris, Nissan 200SX The Chuck Norris 200SX just glowed with Texas-style ass-kicking spirit, so naturally we had to hit it with our region-specific Mess With Texas penalty… twice. That penalty mandates that the miscreant swear on a Bible such truths as "Alaska is bigger than Texas," and "Kansas City has better steaks than Texas," and the Loverman even risked the wrath of Chuck Himself by spray-painting "ALASKA #1" across the hood.
#01: Big Easys Big Sleazys, Pontiac Firebird
Wait a second- is that a 4th-gen GM F-body in a 24 Hours of LeMons race? Cheaters! Cheaters! But hold on a second; not only did they bribe us really well, but they had exhaustive documentation to prove that their car was not only flooded by Katrina, it had spent more than a month under water. One look at the horrible barnacle-crap goo they had to drain out of the cooling system every few hours convinced us that $500 was a pretty believable price. The Big Sleazys were reasonably fast around the track, but frequent pit visits for flood-glop-removal plus multiple penalties (including the Ozzy Osbourne Inertial Penalty horn, which we had to remove because the drivers liked it) held them to a 33rd-place finish.
#2: Blind Squirrel Racing Team, Honda CRX
The Blind Squirrels had a good 1:20.007 best lap time, but their 41st-place finish indicates that penalties and mechanical woes (the usual Honda head gasket problems, perhaps?) slowed them down.
#02: Darth Bimmer, BMW 2002
We really wanted to see this nightmare beater 2002- complete with custom-van-style Darth Vadar airbrush mural on the hood- do well on the track, but a cascade of mechanical failures (starting with a blown head gasket and going downhill from there) limited them to just two laps. Check out their website here.
#03: Puff-Puff-Pass, Honda Civic
It goes without saying that a Honda Civic covered in sparkly wrapping paper and equipped with a six-foot-long reefer on the roof is going to blow its head gasket, and such was the case with the Puff-Puff-Pass guys. But did they let that stop them? Uh, what was the question again? These guys- who were beloved by all for their good attitude and tie-dyed uniform shirts- managed to get by for most of Saturday by pitting for more water every time the steam stopped coming out of the tailpipe, but eventually they were reduced to blasting their engine with a fire extinguisher to cool it off… which won them the coveted Most Redneck Fix trophy.
#3: Monkey Put The Cork Back, Ford Tempo
This bunch had by far the shiniest paint job in the race; normally we'd have to beat some dents into such a car with a sledgehammer, but it's a Tempo! This car was slow but relentless and managed a totally respectable 32nd-place finish.
#4: Unintended Acceleration, Audi 90 Quattro
We became very familiar with the members of Team Unintended Acceleration in the penalty area, as they were such regular consumers of our special brand of justice. They got the Lexus Starter Removal Challenge, the Obama Change We Can Believe In, the Ozzy Horn, and most of the rest of our judicial arsenal, but they never whined, kept returning to the track, and managed a solid 25th-place finish. Check out their site here, then enjoy their video:
#04: The Spartans, Mazda RX-7
There were so many fast RX-7s on the track that we had a hard time telling them apart, once our senses had been shredded by a few hours of that maddening Wankel buzz on the track. The Spartans finished 12th, best ranking for an RX-7 in LeMons Texas, and their best lap time was a very good 1:19.475.
#05: Taco Inspection Team, Chevrolet Monte Carlo
We zapped these guys with the biggest BS Inspection lap penalty of the whole race: 77 laps. Sure, their Monte's V6 engine ensured that the car would be a dog on the track (best lap time: 1:25.291), but the Chevy was set up as an obvious enduro bruiser and the team had absolutely zilch paperwork proving anything about car costs. Sure, one of the Taco Inspection guys fed us a righteous fajita meal in the team motorhome later on, and they ended up blowing their transmission and finishing 61st, but sometimes LeMons justice must be stern.
#5: Lemonade, Toyota Celica
What do you get when your Toyota's electrical-system gremlins keep you up all night? 38th place. These guys never gave up, and their car was quick when running; let's hope we see the yellow Celica at a later race.
#6: Skidmark Racing, Toyota MR2
Its best lap of 1:20.151 shows that the Skidmark Racing MR2 was fast, and the team grabbed a nice 19th-place finish.
#06: Los Cucaroches, Ford Mustang
When you win the No Prayer Of Winning trophy and place sixth overall, you're running a very, very good race. Los Cucaroches had the highest-ranked Mustang (out of eight total) and a blazing 1:17.401 best lap time.
#07: Cajun Rice Burners, Datsun 280ZX
Why don't Datsun Zs do better in the 24 Hours of LeMons? Japanese build quality, strong engines, independent rear suspension, the works… yet they seldom show up in the Top Ten. The Cajun Rice Burners can't complain about their 16th-place finish, though, and their 1:19.456 best lap shows that the 280ZX has what it takes. Here's their website.
#7: Witchdoctor Motorsports/Bikini Racer, Chevrolet Camaro
This team was pretty much following the How To Win LeMons guidelines right down the line; 17 cars out of 72 turned in quicker lap times than their best 1:19.170, yet they finished second overall. You never saw the blue Camaro in the penalty box, and in fact you never much noticed it at all on the track. They would have finished first, but they pitted for a driver change so that Anna- who showed up to the BS Inspection in an outfit that was quite effective at getting us to overlook possible cheats- could be behind the wheel when the checkered flag dropped.
#8: Uber Balls Racing, Nissan 300ZX
We're not quite sure what happened to the Uber Balls 300ZX, but it spent quite a bit of time with the hood open and team members wielding the wrenches.
#9: Molly Whopping Wankel, Mazda RX-7
These guys picked up some BS penalty laps- mostly because we're extra suspicious of RX-7s and their story wasn't so convincing- and then spent most of the race fighting fuel-system ills. Hey, they weren't lying about the car sitting for 15 years before they got it! This was especially frustrating for them, because their 1:17.772 best lap showed how much potential was in the car. They got a barnyard animal welded on the roof and a crumpled fender attached to the hood, but they were good sports and kept a-sloggin' to a 44th-place finish.
#09: Johansson Brothers Racing, Toyota Supra
We saw these guys at the Arse Freeze-Apalooza '07 race, where their engine blew up on the second day of racing. This time they came in 18th, and would have placed much higher if not for an onslaught of black flags from the extremely vigilant MSR track guys.
#10: Warthog Racing, BMW 325e
We've seen LeMons cars made to look like F-22s and Fokker triplanes, among other military aircraft, and now we've got one set up to look like an A-10 Warthog (with an actual A-10 pilot as one of the drivers). The Warthog's 1:18.039 best lap was very fast, and it stayed on the track consistently enough to get 8th place.
#12: 8NSK8, Honda Accord
Yes, you can get in the LeMons Top Ten in a car that's slower around the track than 25 other cars; this Accord finished an impressive 7th with a best lap time of 1:19.704 seconds.
#14: Never Give Up, BMW 1600
This BMW team's members lived up to their name by keeping their age- and rust-ravaged car out on the track for 306 laps, notching an awesomely fast 1:17.811 best lap time and placing 30th. Best of all, they took home the true top prize of the race (and a thousand bucks in nickels): Index Of Effluency!
#17: Svedish Slaabs, Saab 900
One thing I've learned about the 24 Hours Of LeMons is that Saabs always blow up. Oh, sure, a 900 Turbo placed 10th at Altamont, but otherwise: KABOOM! The Svedish Slaabs finished 48th in laps, but they took home the Fastest Swedish Car trophy and the Judges' Choice Award (for their amazing performance in the Obama Change We Can Believe In penalty. Read their story here.
#19: Pinto Slapped, Ford Mustang II
We loved this car. Everyone loved this car. A rusty-as-hell V8-powered Mustang II, complete with owner's manual ziptied to the rollbar? They had the ultimate ringer driver: MSR track manager Mike Mills, who later gave me and the Loverman rides in the Eddie Griffin Enzo, but the car wasn't quite ready in time and didn't spend much time on the track. While it was out there, however, it was one tire-squealing, drifting monster.
The Gawker server hamsters refuse to allow a single post with this much stuff, so I'm forced to break the Über Gallery into multiple parts.