LeMons-ade

Well, we decided to buy a ton of fake fur, cut the roof off an old BMW and buy some masks that makes us look like sexual deviants, then go racing. If you haven’t heard about 24 hours of LeMons, go google that. I will wait. Done? Ok. If you haven’t done anything exciting and nerve racking all of your life, GO DO THIS: GET YOUR DRUNKEST FRIENDS WITH MONEY. MAKE THEM STOP BUYING BOOZE. BUY AN ODD LARK CAR. AND MAKE IT WACKY! Really lean into it. It was one of the most fun and demanding things I have ever done.

Don’t think because you are in a funny looking car, you ain’t racing, WRONG, DEAD WRONG. You are going to be surprised, and if you aren’t prepared, you will unpleasantly surprised. Some of these guys were out for blood, and I mean as many pints as they can get. We on the other hand were just looking to be able to cross the line under the car’s own power. The judges were not expecting us to make even through the first day. Don’t get me wrong, we showed up in a furry BMW with half the roof cut off, looking like creepy animals that were trying to find the convention at some seedy hotel. In other words they loved us and were rooting for us. But, we showed up as first timers, rookies with an automatic, also with some no name tires, on a track we have never been on in our whole life. We were looking pretty slim here.  Our odds were 50%, not good to hear out of a judge’s mouth.

But optimism pays off sometimes if you are prepared for the shit to go down badly. Alex and Matt modified the transmission to cool well, we further modified to have AC condenser fan blowing at full speed at all times. So we had half a chance there. Also, Matt is a machinist and an experienced circle track racer, so that means he is aggressive and can keep the car pretty much scratch free. Kyle had nepotism on his side, his older brother was a judge and Kyle knew how to grease the judges (bribery is very important here), James was a set of mellow hands that kept us steady, Alex brought tools and know how, I brought the muscle.

It was tough on us this weekend also, not to blow sunshine up your ass. We had to send one of us to the hospital because of heat exhaustion. We were short with each other, but we did have our collective mind on our goals. Keep the car running. Finish the race. Don’t wreck. Don’t get wrecked into. We had a bet going, if you wrecked the car while it was your stint, you had to buy the team dinner. It could go from McDonalds to Ruth’s Chris/Morton’s steak house depending on how fucked we were.

Luckily it didn’t come to that. Our Weekend started with a leak in our super duper transmission cooler system, luck for us it was fixed in twenty minutes. Afterwards, I overfilled the transmission and we were off testing again. And it was cool, because we had pyrotechnics due to our car spitting up the transmission fluid through the top of the bell on the exhaust. The smoke was too light for the flaggers to see it, so we just kept racing until the smoked died down. Then it was time for tech inspection, also with the BS inspection. We were informed after the fact, that our cage was one of the best prepared ever seen, but we had to add two gussets to it. No problem right? Twenty minutes, 30 tops. Well this was Jersey, and Jersey doesn’t give a fuck what it would normally take. Jersey was on union time and the teamsters were gonna work after their mandatory 50 minute smoke/bang their comare’ break, after the inspection to see if the hammer that was provided was safe after the rigorous testing done by a monkey who was wearing a crap filled diaper.  Ok, not totally accurate, but pretty goddamn close. B.T.DUBS, don’t get sick in NJ, because that statement is 100% accurate for the medical system there.

We spent all night trying to get this gussets made and welded on our cage. We had some problems, but there was this AWESOME GROUP OF GUYS, they were cool as can be, they were lending out their MIG welder and didn’t ask for anything in return. We bought them beer and water to thank them, TRD, you guys are awesome. But, that also means that the lent the welder to anybody, well there was a team who wasn’t so good at reading the instructions on how the judges wanted the cage built, we just overlooked a detail, they built something that had to be completely rebuilt and they were gonna all night do to it, regardless how long we needed to use the welder (it was ten minutes).

After seizing the opportunity to grab the welder and lay in our two gussets, we went to sleep. The next morning, the fog was thick and like our tension. We got our car looked at, and they just wanted us to add a simple bead of weld on our cage, No problem, usually. But race time was only 20 minutes away. Matt quickly added the welds needed to get us straight. and we were in. We missed the start, by 5 minutes. But we were still in. Matt gets suited and booted and starts racing. Our Furry shitbox was in a real race, and wasn’t doing too bad either. As the race went on, somebody was moving our bar slowly up, we were expected to do better and better, our car was challenging and tough. We made places, we drove hard and we kept it clean (for the most part).

Then it was my turn to go, it was one of the most terrifying ten minutes of my life. This was not a go kart, this was not autocross, this was a live track and it had some banshees running on the track that made you look like you were standing still at 100mph. Then I got into the groove, overtook some people and started to forget I was scared shitless. I started to hit the main straight faster and faster, 90mph, then 100mph, then 110mph, then 115mph. I found this car in the middle of the field covered in pollen and a gas tank filled with water, by the way. Then I started to brake harder and later, first at 50 yard, then 40 yards, then at 30 yards, brakes held up. That was one of the few things it had going for her, good brakes, and modestly good acceleration. It did not like the idea of turning, we were famous for being furry and having the body roll of a ship that was about to capsize.

I was passing a car at the rate of 2 to 4 laps. Matt would pass one every 20 seconds, Matt drove aggressively, fun to watch also brought home our first black flag. Kyle was calm behind the wheel he made sure he didn’t get out of control while being speedy. Alex drove smoothly and seemed like he didn’t make mistakes. James was aggressive, at least in my mind, he was fast and pushed the car. My second stint was considerably faster, I was overtaking, and I got our second black flag, I got in the way of a Pontiac Fiero that had something devious done to it, they chopped out the old assed out breadbasket of an engine and put a powertrain that could make that thing run like hell! I didn’t notice him at all, he just came out of nowhere and I turned in on him. I barely missed him but wound up off track, steered it to the run off of the track. the Fiero ate the dirt, did a 360 deg spin and just drove off like nothing happened.  At the end of the day, we survived, and the car was doing well. We checked our brakes, and we discovered that stoptech makes their pads out of titanium or something, there was no appreciable wear.

Although one of us was showing some wear, it was about 90 Degrees all weekend and we were wearing fire suits, couldn’t keep cool. By time night fell on camp, he started to be not himself. he spiraled downward and we had to convince him to go to the hospital. One of the guys at TRD (again, thanks for being awesome) was an EMT and check our guy out before he left. It was heat exhaustion alright. He left and found out that the medical “professionals” in NJ are shitty, shit, shitty, shit, shit, shit, shit, shitty, poopy, shit. They did not want to hook him up to a drip without an expensive and useless test first, so they could scam the insurance company for a useless test. And you wonder why medical insurance is so goddamn expensive? Get this, an old doctor could shove a dipstick up your ass and tell you that you are gonna have problems with your colon in two day. That old fuck would be right, too. But, Dr. Guido has bill your insurance company for $6000 because he doesn’t want to look at you for five minutes and ask you a question like “have you been outside all day in the sun without proper hydration?” That is also when the monkey shits his diaper. After dealing with that, He refused to deal with Dr. Dumbass, left the hospital, stayed at a hotel for the night and drank pedialyte. And wouldn’t you know it? He got better.

Well the next morning, I looked at one of the other drivers and asked him if we should go out? It was up in the air at that point. So that morning was filled with doubt and questions. Then we got the word that everyone was ok and we can go out racing. The other drivers were being extra aggressive, due to it being the last day for this.  Matt took our first stint, drove like hell, got another black flag, he passed under a yellow flag, I take blame for that I was his spotter. Then James drove mostly a yellow flag stint. I drove, it had some yellows, but definitely less than James did. Alex got in it. and didn’t do too bad. I drove, fell off track and talked to judges before I got the flag, Kyle drove and did the same thing I did. Matt got back in it, and drove like hell, I was being more diligent on flaggers so we could get those passes to stick. James drove more aggressively, followed with more encouraged yelling from Kyle over the radio. I finally overcame my fear of the car and started to pass more people and started to push the hell out of the car.

I may have made a small mistake and didn’t want to chance it, so I drove in the pits and started to get ready for get the ear beating. Kyle’s brother was the guy who was gonna dispense justice on me this round, He looks at me and says “you are an hour away from completing your first LeMons race, don’t fuck up and throw it away.” I got out the car with a big smile on my face, James jumped into car for his last stint and though we could do this. our car isn’t fucking up, we didn’t hit anybody, we didn’t get hit by anybody. All we need to do was end this on the good note. James ended his drive without incident, we decided to bring the car into the paddock to do one last check before let Matt go at it. It was all clear, as it was all weekend, we didn’t have a good chance being a rookie team with this car. The car was going to prove them wrong, I think they wanted to be proven wrong also. We made it. The car made it. We didn’t die. We didn’t kill anyone. It was over and now we know what we had to do to be better.

We also wore furry masks. I guess we can’t always end on a positive note.

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