When I was a kid the only thing I ever wanted to do was play with cars. I had loads of Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels and would do anything and everything in order to grow my collection. I raced them inside and outside, played with them in the dirt, ran them through water and even put a few in my Dad’s old vice to crush them up when it was demolition derby day. For me cars were a way of life and no matter how crappy my day was, these little buggers always seemed to bail me out of a bad mood. Now at 38 years old many things in my life have changed. For one thing I’m about 200 lbs heavier than the kid who used to run his toy cars around his grandmothers kitchen, I also have a bit less hair and more responsibility. The cars however haven’t changed and because of this I can still feel like I’m six years old again any time I wish.
Enter now the 24 Hours of LeMons, the race for the six year old that lurks inside of every full grown man. Racers come from all over the region in cars that are literally held together with zip ties and duct tape. This past weekend I had the opportunity to compete in my 2nd LeMons event up at Stafford Motor Speedway with some of the best individuals that one could have the privilege of knowing.
Our car was a 1979 Buick Regal with a 301 cu in. V8 that had 211,000 miles on the clock. It was old and worn out but it ran and rolled so we figured we were on the right track. Friends Johnny “The Wrench” Sigismondi and Jay Blakeslee wrenched on this sucker everyday for 2 weeks to get it ready for the event but each day they found more and more problems. A rusty frame, broken suspension components and an engine that was 30 years past its peak all stood in their way, but perseverance took charge and they managed to get it to the track in one piece.
The 24 Hours of LeMons New England played host to some of the most wretched four wheeled mongrels to ever roll on pavement. Everything from the battle tested sled of Team Chard Beef to an old two stroke SAAB showed up to compete in the festivities. It was an interesting few days to say the least and for the members of TEAM ANGRY this past weekend turned out to be more of a war of attrition than anything else. Right from the get go the old Buick started to give us problems that literally didn’t let up until 10 minutes before the end of the event.
To give you a quick idea of the demons we battled this weekend I’ve compiled a short list for your viewing pleasure.
1. Blown transmission line: Sure it makes the engine compartment all shiny and nice but it doesn’t help your forward mobility much.
2. Taco’d Muffler: When your ignition and fuel system do not work together in harmony they argue and sometimes make things go boom.
3. Burnt Wiring Harness: A small on-track electrical fire almost affixiated teammate Brian Selltiz when the main power lead went up in smoke.
4. Leaky Fuel Tank: This actually turned out to be quite a festive event. We had a nice trunk fire with some fire extinguisher action and cheers from onlookers.
5. Shrapnel in Rear Tire: Apparently large chunks of metal in your rear tire do not help out in the handling department.
6. Leaky Coolant Overflow Tank: While in the penalty box due to a black flag we received for being neighborly to other racers we noticed our coolant tank letting go all over the tarmac.
7. Bum Ignition: The 31 year old ignition module decided to take a dump as well, leaving us sidelined yet again.
8. Seized Engine (well kinda’): At about 4:30 pm on Sunday evening the car coasted into the pits with no power. We feared the engine had seized as it seemed everything was locked up and all was lost. Then just for shits and giggles at about 4:50 we turned the key and the old mill fired up, but not without some protest. At 4:55 Johnny took the car back out on the track, limped the old girl around and crossed the finish line at 5pm. We had made it…
In racing you have good days and bad days, up’s and downs. It just goes with the territory. This year we were plagued with issues right from the get go but thanks to the tireless efforts of 3 amazing mechanics we were able to cross the finish line and complete the event.
The old Buick is still in our possession and it will return to fight another day. In the meantime the members of TEAM ANGRY need to recover from this weekends battle royal and recharge for our next event. As for the 24 Hours of LeMons, my advise would be to go out immediately, find a car for $500 and do the event. Yes we had issues and yes we had problems, but we also now have a bunch of hilarious memories that will last us for quite some time.