24 Hours of LeMons New England Day 1: Honda Accord, Volvo 745, Sea Sprite Leading
When we inspect the cars that show up for a LeMons race, we’re never sure what’s going to happen once the real racing starts. Oh, sure, we always know which half-dozen teams have a genuine shot at the overall win— that’s a matter of recognizing which teams have the organizational chops and reliable machinery needed to rack up the big lap totals— but we never know who will get the upper hand in the much more interesting Class C battle. Let’s take a look at how the first day’s race session went at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the overall and Class A lead, we have a familiar car: the Bill Danger 1994 Honda Accord. The Bill Danger team sort of rose from obscurity last year; after winning a Most Heroic Fix Award trophy in 2011, they went on an astonishing-for-a-Honda run of reliability, winning the 2012 Loudon Annoying race and establishing themselves as one of the top teams of East Region LeMons racing. This Saturday, the Bill Danger Accord kept its head gasket intact and ended the race session with a two-lap edge over the P2 car. This in spite of a 1:29.092 best lap time, more than five seconds slower than the quickest car (a four-banger BMW E30 3-series) and slower than the best lap times knocked out by eleven other teams. How? Clean driving, no black flags, no busted parts. The justices of the LeMons Supreme Court can’t even recall what the Bill Danger drivers look like, since we never see them in the Penalty Box.
Meanwhile, the rainy weather, NASCAR-friendly track, and super-aggressive New England driving style combined to make this Saturday one of the busiest days in the Penalty Box that the LeMons Supreme Court has experienced in quite a while. Drivers were hitting each other, hitting walls, squishing cones, ignoring caution flags, and generally torpedoing their chances at a good lap total. When the checkered flag waved, the track looked like the Wilmington Pick-Your-Part after a particularly frenzied Half Price Day sale.
Because the onslaught of bad drivers coming to visit your LeMons correspondent in his role as Chief Justice of the LeMons Supreme Court was so overwhelming, we didn’t have time to break out some of our more innovative punishments for miscreant drivers. Instead, we concentrated on one really good penalty, in this case the Milton Friedman Unfettered Capitalism Penalty. This featured a team of bad drivers harnessed to our 1969 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Judgemobile, pulling the judges forward into profitability with their proletariat muscle power. In the rain.
Naturally, the LeMons Supreme Court justices rode in luxury, wearing top hats and eating caviar. We can thank Judge Rich, New Hampshire native, Chomsky-quoting class traitor, and Index of Effluency-winning Renault racer for thinking up this highly effective educational tool for spinout-prone drivers.
Yes, the LeMons Supreme Court was kept jumping all day, as our heavily annotated Crime Blotter shows.
Still, some teams other than Bill Danger avoided the lure of 10/10ths racing and low-chance-of-success five-wide passes. Leading Class B at the end of the day was the Fast Al’s (as in Albert Einstein) Racing Volvo 740 wagon, which wrapped up the session with a two-lap lead in its class and a P5 berth in the overall standings. Not bad for a four-banger Swede with a slushbox, nej?
Leading Class C is… wait, this can’t be right! That’s right, after all the harsh things we’ve said about British LeMons cars, a TR7 leads its class after a car-killing day at the race track. The Three Pedal Mafia Triumph racked up precisely zero black flags, didn’t break down more than once or twice, and now sits atop a two-lap lead in its class. Quick, buy some lottery tickets!
Not only that, but the car pursuing the Three Pedal Mafia Triumph for the Class C lead also belongs to Three Pedal Mafia, and it isn’t even a car! The 1971 Sea Sprite boat (grafted onto a Chevy S10 chassis), which took advantage of the rainy weather to blow away all but one of the Quattro-equipped Audis, finished the day about five minutes back of its stablemate.
While all this was going on, many other teams were experiencing spun bearings, thrown rods, bent frames, and all the other ills that prey on hooptie race cars. The team that swapped a Honda A engine into their VW Golf discovered that Japanese connecting rods are no tougher than German ones, as you can see in this photo.
Check in Sunday evening to see how all this madness sorts out!