Running 104 laps in an almost bone stock 1971 Volkswagen 411 earned us the 24 Hours of Lemons’ highest award: the Index of Effluency. I kept my race shoes on because I knew what I had to do. Yes, I finally got to do a shoey. It didn’t taste as bad as it looked. No, it tasted like success.
The Index of Effluency is Lemons’ highest award for the car most in the spirit of the event. They still give out trophies for winning on laps in the different “Good,” “Bad,” and “Ugly” classes—but what they really want to see is a team run a car that was never meant to go on a race track do so mildly competently, with a good attitude. You know, weirdos who bring an automatic Volkswagen Type 4. That’s what wins you the completely subjective but who-cares Index of Effluency.
I’ve been gunning for an IOE win—along with winning Class B on laps—for ages. I had to leave the race on Sunday briefly to get a trailer from a nearby town to haul the Volkswagen home, and my gut completely sank when I saw the 411 back in the pits when I got back. My seat that I’d gotten to transport it back was in the car and they were taking the fire extinguisher out of the passenger side.
You don’t take out any of the safety equipment until a car is done for good, so I knew what was going on. The car had run perfectly all afternoon and I had signed up to take it through the checkered flag, but no more. The once-nice engine bay had splatters of oil all over and a few sizeable drops underneath. Turns out, our team owner had been highly encouraged by Lemons’ tech staff not to run the car anymore, lest it oil down the track.
But the organizers also hinted that maybe—just maybe—we should stick around until the end, hinting that something trophy-like might come our way. Let’s be honest, even if we got “I Got Screwed” trophy at this point (which was a possibility), I was going to do a shoey. I mean, some of my past results should have been clear contenders for that trophy anyway, but I WAS ROBBED.
Thus, I changed into normal clothes but went in search of a beer. A team running two Porsche 944s—clearly my people—lent a Lagunitas IPA. This would do. Alcohol kills germs, right? That’s why we all cringed harder at the straight-Red Bull shoey.
Then it happened. “I Got Screwed,” “Heroic Fix,” and the race-specific awards passed, and finally there was one trophy left. Turns out, all of the other teams running terrible cars—including a real, honest-to-goodness terrible Lancia—turned out to do worse than we did.
When they announced that we’d won, I popped off my right shoe—the only foot that got any racing action in our automatic Volkswagen—and poured me a shoey.
It wasn’t bad! The flavor of Buttonwillow sand and foot sweat seemed to compliment the hoppy, floral, fistful of dandelions taste of the beer. It wasn’t bad! I didn’t have any takers when I offered the shoe around to my teammates and the organizers, so I even finished the shoe.
Clearly, sweet, bubbly champagne isn’t the way to go. Formula One should have podium beer!
I wore that soggy shoe back to my car with pride, and it didn’t feel terrible. It felt like winning. I, Stef Schrader, person who always loses, finally won something. I enjoyed every second of wearing that mildly beer-logged shoe. We earned that.
That being said, I have relatively well-pedicured clean feet, which even got a fresh coat of Puffalump Butt Lilac polish before the race. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns over fungus or other ailments of the foot before doing a shoey.