Sunday, February 28, 2010

Motor Mount? Why?

Here's the culprit:

That wasn't the only damage; our CV joint on the passenger side is toast:

It spits grease at us. Not good for my manicure. My patients wonder what the hell I do on my off time when I show up with this stuff under my nails. That duct tape performed pretty well, tho. It held up for three races. Unfortunately now we just need a new one. Bummer.

The rest is just body damage. I think we'll just drill a self tapper into the middle of the damage and pull it out.

Greetings, Jalops

We've been mentioned and linked to in the piece about the flipping Escort at last weekend's Gator-O-Rama, so I just wanted to say hello and welcome to the Jalopnik readers & commentariat.

Here's the short version: we are a bunch of long-time friends & gearheads in Houston who had read of Lemons when Car & Driver went to Altamont, so when the first Texas race was announced we found an old Neon and dove in. Suffice it to say we loved it-- I've done six races now in three cars, and that original Neon has been in four races. Please hit the navigation tree on the right to look through the archives or even start at the beginning; I went back and did some re-reading and was amused at what we first went racing with.

Thinking of entering the 24 Hours of Lemons yourself? Do it. Find yourself a beater and dive in. Everyone started without a clue, and I will admit that although we may be more organized now, and placed (a little) better in our latest race, the greatest sense of accomplishment was from nursing our little rusty neon racecar through our very first race.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lemon drops #1: hood pins

I love checking out the other cars in the paddock at 24 Hours of Lemons events. I really love watching for when I see something the team has done to their car to make life easier that is cheap, easy, and clever enough to make people say, "Dang, why didn't I think of that?" It's time to start documenting these Lemon Drops like I've said I would for so long.

Today's topic: hood pins. While they're not required by the Lemons rulebook, they are highly recommended by those who know better than I. Last weekend at Gator-O-Rama 2010, the team driving the Gremlin had their hood pop open on the track, so odds that they will have hood pins in the future are very short.

On TetanusNeon, we have installed captive hood pins, where the pin is always kept in a track that is screwed to the hood. I think they cost us a tiny bit more than normal hood pins, but have since realized their greatest advantage-- it's impossible to misplace the pin. Well, at least without losing the hood too, in which case you've got greater organizational issues than first thought.

radiator hose around the postOur captive hood pin (back when it had Oktoberfest coloration). Other teams will often use a screw or rivet and just run a ziptie or some wire to normal hood pins to keep them attached to the hood, and our friend Brian at Property Devaluation racing has a long habit of zip-tying a few extra hood pins onto the roll cage just in case someone manages to lose one during a pit stop.
captive hood pin, screwed to hoodBut hey, hood pins aren't cheap and clever. Clever was what our teammate Andy did -- he cut off a few inches of discarded radiator hose (you did have enough budget in your Lemon to yank that ancient dry-rotted heater hose, right?) and put pieces over the hood-pin's posts. This means we have to slightly push the hood down to compress the hoses when sliding the pins in, and then it springs back against the pins, keeping everything from vibrating as much and keeping the pins from sliding out too easily.
Have you seen a neat-but-cheap racing trick I can turn into a Lemon Drop post? If so, send me a note through the comments and we'll turn you into a guest author for a day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Recap: Gator-O-Rama 2010 Day #2

After a night with too much cake, and maybe perhaps a couple of beers, the 0815a driver's meeting rolled around pretty early. However, we rallied and got ourselves out on the track without too much drama. Chris drove first, then Andy. Chris' stint ended with a pretty awesome spin out. We've got film... maybe we'll post it someday. Fortunately, drivers' swaps were a snap.

Mike (driver #3) had just gotten in the car when the infamous People's Curse began at noon. Some yahoo team had abandoned their car at the track, so the Powers That Be at 24h Lemons HQ decided to crush the poor neglected heap. The crusher driver was one determined dude - he wanted to pry that engine out. Unfortunately, he failed, but his efforts amused.

And then my turn came... as did the rain. Our tires were scrubbed by this point. Furthermore, every car still on the track was hemorrhaging oily fluids - brake fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, illegal coolant, whatever. Can we say slickery? Yes, we can! Every turn I lost grip at least once. Every third turn I lost enough traction that I thought I would spin. Yet, somehow, I didn't. I made the checkered flag!

My pit neighbor and race friends Team JDL - Swamp Jews also cruised under the checkered flag. As long as the menorah remains, they'll always be "Shabat Shalom M*****F*****s!" to me.

The final results: 23rd place. Very respectable.

The award table. We get none of these.

Having helped us see the light, Chief Perp Jay Lamm greets his loyal flock.

Judge Johnny and Judge Phil did a great job. They handled an inordinate amount of idiots without losing their cool, always had something interesting to say and just generally amused me. Which is, of course, the point.

If you're worried about the apocalypse, worry more. A SHO has won the 24 Hours of Lemons.

This is the "We Got Screwed" trophy. This year it went to a Geo Metro that, if their plans had gone correctly, would have been competing for the "Heroic Fix" award. Needless to say, their plans failed.

These idiots won the "Dangerous Banned Technology" award. How, you might ask? By pumping smoking oil into the passenger compartment. No shit.

A truly terrible car won the "Judge's Choice" trophy below. Even without having seen the car, I would have known that it was terrible. How else would zip-tied Twizzlers be an 'award'? (Actually the car was a pretty cool Lincoln with fins. But Twizzlers? --CPC)

These are the nudists. They won "Organizer's Choice". They made awesome food and actually went pretty damn fast. One of their cars was in the top ten. Question: Why are nudists good at a sport that requires copious amounts of specialized clothing?

And finally, here's Troy. He won the "Index of Effluency." I can't explain Troy. Troy has a history on the 24 Hours of Lemons forums for being amusing, annoying, long-winded and insufferable. But we all love him, and we're happy he won I of E... but I'm even happier about the duct tape.

Our team; happy, stinky, proud and tired. We'll see y'all in Louisiana.

Recap: Gator-O-Rama 2010 Day #1

Gator-O-Rama 2010 day #1 dawned cold and misty. My grumpy mood was immediately lifted when I saw this:

Property Devaluation Racing had a broken engine sitting in the paddock. All was right with my world.

Every year the Chief Perp Jay Lamm knows that chaos lurks around the corner at Gator-O-Rama. Yet every year he attempts to keep us all from acting like idiots on the track at the mandatory driver's meeting. This year, yet again, he failed.

I had the first shift. Mike ran late, so I threw on my race gear at the last second. No time for nerves, but plenty of time for smiles.

128 teams entered, 121 eventually hit the track. I have no idea how many made it to the starting line up, but I'd say it was more than a few.

There are two legal places to fuel. One is in the hot pits, in full race gear. The second is at the track pump, where you'll pay $1 more per gallon than at the local shoot and loot. Guess where we're going. Yes, I will pay a convenience tax, thank you very much.

And here's the reason we were heading to refeul: we'd been pulled from the track for a black flag. Mike, driver #2, had contact with two other cars. Not his fault (of course) but still penalty worthy. We got the so-called "Bart Simpson" - we had to write "Three-ways are not as much fun as they look" on the car fifty times. We figured that while we were off, we might as well gas up.

And do a driver's change, of course.

I don't have any shots of Andy's stint (driver #3). I do have a sequence from Chris' stint below. He looks pretty good, doesn't he?

Day #1 lasted nine, yes NINE, hours. So I had the privilege of taking the checked flag for our first day at Gator-O-Rama 2010. The car ran beautifully, we didn't wreck (much) and we ended the day comfortably in the top half of the pack. The TetanusNeon needed rest.

Oh, and did I mention Chris had a birthday Saturday? Happy birthday, have some cake!

Brief Update

The 24 Hours Gator-O-Rama is officially done. A complete photo-rific update will be made, but I thought I'd get a brief update out first:

- I managed to capture one of the epic crashes of Saturday on my Flip. Murilee from Jalopnik has the footage and will edit it to make it maximally awesome. Since he's much better at such things than I, I will post the link once it's available.

- The nudists were there, the cajuns were not. The food was still awesome.

- It rained. "Slick" barely describes the track surface.

- The judges gave us our first Bart Simpson. And then I earned a "Your Driving Stinks" penalty by passing under yellow. Yes, I am a crappy driver.

- Troy won an award. Those who don't peruse the 24h of Lemons forums won't quite understand why that's awesome.

But most importantly... The TetanusNeon Generic Beer Edition placed 23rd!!! Houston Gator-O-Rama fielded 128 entrants, and we placed within the top fifth. Go team!

More pics and vids and interesting things later.

Sunday update

I had a really fun shift this morning despite fog and then rain. The
track was dry for some of it but the tetanus neon understeers badly
once it's soaked. Mainly due to fast cars spinning out we crawled up a
few spots.

Fun though it was my shift had an ignominious end: a spin-out. Andy
hopped in and had to do a very damp shift. Mike is cruising around now
and we are in 26th as of last update.

Two hours to go in Gator-o-Rama 2010!

Property Devaluation

The aftermath of their collision. It looks better already.

Other racers

With so much to do for our own car, it's easy to forget to check on
other racers like I should. The Fairmont from Property Devaluation
Racing (Brian, Spike, Joe and Marty) had its issues through the day
(alternator, small collision) but is still running.

In first place, a full twenty laps ahead of us: the Blue Ball Neon. In
our first race the car was one of the Purple Pinballs, with whom we
tried to do a parts swap that didn't work out because of differences
in Neon model years.

Second day

Racing resumes in two hours. We finished the day in 32nd of 121 cars
that turned some laps.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black flagged

Due to a three-car incident on the track, we got a black flag and had
to do the Bart Simpson penalty-- write sentences on the car. Dropped
us from 9 laps off pace to 19, but we are back in action. Andy is
driving now, I'm next.

Lunchtime update

Mary's first shift went well and Mike is racking up laps now. We were
7 laps behind the leaders when results were last posted, about 37th in
the pack of 100+ cars.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tech day in visuals

A few shots from our tech inspection day at Gator-O-Rama 2010, our
latest adventure in the 24 Hours of Lemons.

Grill, race car, engine... yeah, totally Lemons.
Our beloved rusty neon racecar got a revised hood badge to match its new paint scheme.
Andy & Mike model our generic clothing to match the generic paint job.
It's a good thing Brian et al signed up for test-and-tune time-- they discovered their Fairmont's engine was quite unhappy and swapped in the engine from the Mustang/Capri that we drove with them in Ohio.