Thursday, October 29, 2009

Initial Recap of Yee-Haw it's LeMons Texas - 2009

Now that I've had a few days to recover from the 2009 running of Yee-Haw It's LeMons Texas, I must say that it was very fun but not entirely successful for our team.
  • With the larger number of entries, the race was run on the full-length MSR Houston track instead of the shorter "North Loop" that was used for October 2008 and February 2009. The additional space made it less crowded and I enjoyed the variety. One's approach does change substantially without the tire chicane and with the higher approach speeds returning from the southern portion of the track.
  • Now that we've done several races our organization is much better and we were much better at our driver changes and pit stops. The headsets and radios we recently purchased have been a huge help there. Instead of watching the clock and wondering, we can discuss fuel levels and stint time with the driver.
  • Also, the "network effect" is kicking in with interacting with other teams. The paddock at any 24 Hours of LeMons race is always an entertaining, friendly place, with technical advice and tool loans available -- but it's even better when the discussions and loans are with people we've met before and know are trustworthy, fun people. It's even happening with food: over the weekend I ate nicely from generously offered gumbo, BBQ ribs, and boiled shrimp from different teams. We shared beer.
  • Ramon got a bus. He then painted it to match the race cars. Juan drove the bus to the track where people fell in love with it, and it even became the pace car. I don't think a LeMons pace car has ever been able to give so many people a tour of the racing line at once-- Doctawife said the bus had about 20 people on it.
Cons of the weekend:
  • Sadly, one of our cars developed a host of hard-to-trace electrical issues that kept it off the track for far too much of the time.
  • Also, another team we know well (Brian and Joe) had issues with their car too
  • I and the other drivers in the other car weren't able to offer much help to either non-running car since duties on the functional car kept us pretty busy.
  • Thanks to other events planned for the weekend (for example, a friend's wedding) not all of the team stayed at the track Saturday night, denying us some of our usual hang-out-and-BS bonding time.
  • Unlike the last two Texas races, even our "reliable" neon wasn't running at the checkered flag due to bad wheel bearings. It's a little thing in the larger scheme of things (31st is 31st no matter how you slice it) but just having a car running at the end puts a nice glow to the end of the race. Endurance racing is all about persistence, and not getting to the end is a bummer.
Enough carping. The only postmortem that matters is that we will be back, and even more of our friends and family are interested in giving it a try. Gator-o-rama 2010, here we come!
Photo mishmash follows.

Rich's semi-truck/Transformers themed pickupRich rebuilt our cage and printed up our beer-label stickers. This is the other thing he was building: a small pickup now disguised as a semi!

Pace bus!Pace bus!

Oktoberfest churning away, not long before the wheel bearings were deemed too messed up to continue.Oktoberfest churning away, not long before the wheel bearings were deemed too messed up to continue.

Lawnmower at speed
One of the good laps for Lawnmower. The car has great handling when it goes, which is why the electrical issues were so frustrating.

Oktoberfest gets pushed back to the pit...and the day is done. The bearings had wallowed out enough to interfere with brake operation.

Spike and Brian hitch a ride on the CapriStang: Mercury Capri front, Mustang back.Spike and Brian hitch a ride on the CapriStang. This was likely the 'stang's last race since the old cage needs replacing.

Jay Lamm addressing the crowd at the awards ceremony
Jay Lamm addresses the masses at the awards ceremony.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Final: 31st. Big fun for the weekend. Pictures later; watch for other coverage.

Still rolling

Mike is still out there, babying the car, and we are hoping it holds
up until the end. Wheel bearings are now the top of our shopping list
for next time!

Day 2 so far: still in the top 20! (barely)

I need to get faster! I'm driving better than March but still slipped from 14th to 17th during my stint this morning. Lawnmower is done; still having fuel pump issues. Also I think our hopes for a top-20 finish with Oktoberfest are done because the front wheel bearings are going bad. Andy is still out there getting laps but is having to take it easy, unfortunately.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Results are tough to know

With so many cars on so much track for so long, it's always tough to
know how you're doing during a 24 Hours of Lemons race. Yee-Haw is
about 35 minutes away from being done for day one, and I snapped this
photo o everyone awaiting the 5pm hourly posting of standings so far.
As pit stops come and go we've bounced around the mid teens for
Oktoberfest's position so I hope we'll be in top 20 for end of day
(knock on wood). Lawnmower? Um, don't ask. Cooling and fuel pump
problems suck.

Mixed results so far

Lawnmower keeps blowing the fuel pump fuse but goes fast when it goes
at all. Tetanus (Oktoberfest) is plodding along fine but fuel use is
higher than we'd like. That means we'll have to make 1 more extra pit
stop before the end of today's racing.
One hour in. Lawnmower got fixed late yesterday and passed tech this morning. Charging problems had it off track for a bit but it's racing again. Tetanusneon is a lap down from the leaders but doing fine so far.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Test day

Passed tech fine, and got some practice laps in. The car runs well but
still keeps its lemon-hood on display prominently: the speedometer
thinks we hit 10mph and the gas guage seems to offer vague estimates

Also, I'd forgotten how little traction this beastie has...

Ready for tech inspection

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Durn near ready

The race is this weekend, and we're almost ready for it all. TetanusNeon (now Oktoberfest) is in good shape but the fuel pump on Lawnmower is acting up. Back to the junkyard for somebody!
A quick snapshot of some of the build & race team: Simon, Ramon, Andy, Mary, Kevin, Lee, Rob, & Junior. Not pictured: Mike, Chuck, & Kathy.
Wish us luck!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lots of work this weekend. These last two posts would make a lot more temporal sense if blogger hadn't been broken. Chris' post was about Saturday, I'm all about Sunday.

We had an awesome day. Everything is coming together - at least for Oktoberfest. The muffler is now kosher (i.e. not held on by metal ties), our mirrors are taped and we have numbers! Numbers, I say! Oh, I also fabricated a radio support. From a license plate. 'Cause everything can be made from license plates.

Lawnmower still ain't runnin'... but that' not our fault. Oktoberfest only needs minor stuff before race day. So we're set! Hopefully, Oktoberfest will reward our confidence. If it breaks, we'll all be very, very sad.

Continuing preparations for Yee-Haw It's Lemons Texas

This is our last weekend for work on Tetanusneon and the Lawnmower before the next Houston race in the 24 Hours of LeMons. We replaced the Kirkey seat that had been in Tetanusneon with a Sparco seat more suited to the size range of the drivers-- the Kirkey we had was made for taller folks-- and worked a little more on its Oktoberfest livery, an homage to St. Arnold brewery's seasonal beer. Gluing some coasters to the wood on the back makes it more than a spoiler, now it's also a picnic table. Other than that this car is mostly set. A little bit of safety-equipment work, paint on the numbers, and it's ready to go.

The engine swap on the neon formerly known as "Margarita" is done, but it isn't running quite right yet-- Junior and Juan will be working on that. Those of us with less engine-diagnosis talent went ahead and pulled out the spray paint yesterday to turn the paint job into a tribute to the St. Arnold Lawnmower pilsner beer. We think it turned out pretty well. I just hope we can get it running right.

Earlier I wasn't sure about neon engine "swappability" for DOHC parts vs. SOHC parts. We had an SOHC block that was going to be frankensteined together with our DOHC head, but it turns out although the engine blocks are the same, the engines use different pistons. While calling around to try to find us used pistons (great idea, right?) Junior located a DOHC block and put that together with our old head. I don't know what we'll do with the now unneeded SOHC block-- keep it around as a spare for Tetanusneon/Oktoberfest, try to sell it back to a junkyard, recycle for a bit of money, or turn it into a boat anchor.

A few more random photos from yesterday's work -- enjoy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New powertrain

While rebuilding the Margarita into the Lawnmower, Chuck and Juan suggest switching to an "alternative" powertrain.
Very Flintstone-esque, but I don't think it will pass tech inspection.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Hey there, it's doctawife.

We're only 11 days away from Yee-Haw It's LeMons Texas... and we're scrambling. The TetanusNeon has been completely rebranded. The good folks at St. Arnold are letting us create the Oktoberfest! As you've seen above, we've stenciled the shiz out of Tetanus, creating a lovely autumnal theme. On top of that, we'll have a vinyl Oktoberfest logo. Supersweet!

I have to say stenciling is work. Who knew? I seriously got a blister on my spray-can hand, and a cramp in my forearms from holding the stencil to the car body. How does Martha Stewart do that all day long? I would die of both exhaustion and boredom.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yet more prep

TetanusNeon is back with its beautiful new cage. Time to weld the back
doors shut again and ready it for its new theme. No worries, it will
still be the lovable rusty neon racecar we know and love, but the
decorations will be more seasonal and less vaccine-centric.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

All done

Okay, my math was incorrect... The course was 2 miles, so we covered
1190 miles on the track. Coincidentally that's about the distance we
must travel back to Dallas now.
Done. Clutch cable snapped. 595 laps, so 1309 miles. We aren't winners but it was great fun.

Night racing

Night racing is spooky. The difference in depth perception and apex
visibility really screwed up my lap times. Brian had no issues-- in
fact he's puzzled tha I had issues-- and Doctawife has dine well too.
Joe is a night-racing veteran so hopefully he can gain some positions
for us again.

We've fallen from our earlier high position and are now 28 laps back
of the leaders. The starter has developed issues so we lost time
trying to fix that, but it seems to be a problem with the connection
on the starter itself. The connection is too buried between the block
and exhaust manifold to handle here, so we're just push-starting the
car after every pit stop.

Time for another nap. Next driver change at 6:30.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

1/3 done

19th place, 15 laps back of the lead car. Our starter is acting up so
the pit stops got longer. Team captain Joe is out there now to make up
the time.

Six hours in ...

Brian has built a quick car from all those mustangs and the Capri.
Power to pass and fun. Brian has us in 7th for a bit but I lost a
bunch of spots in my stint.

Doctawife has leapt in skill and was setting really good lap times.

Only 18 hours to go! (ouch)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Budget racing sometimes bites us. Poor old tires on our tow vehicle
are having problems so we've had to stop to replace some.

Partway there

One of many fuel stops on our way to The Lamest Day at Nelson Ledges.