The 24 Hours of LeMons has been coming to Carolina Motorsports Park in South Carolina since 2008, making this weekend’s race the fifth annual 24 Hours of LeMons South Fall. Many legendary LeMons teams have made their reps here, and this weekend sees some cars among the 103 entrants that will hold a place in LeMons lore for years to come.
Before we get to those teams, however, let’s check out some of the top contenders who will be worth watching this weekend. The Road Warriors, previous LeMons South winners and drivers of a BMW E30 3-series converted into a pretty credible Australian Ford Falcon XB, are in the house. We’ve also got the winningest LeMons team of the 2011 season: Hong Norrth and their Mazda MX-3.
S.O.B. Racing’s Volkswagen GTI spent a few years coming inches from an overall win, then getting knocked out of the lead by nagging mechanical problems. This time, we authorized them to install junkyard turbocharging (known as “ghettocharging” in LeMons-speak) on their car, which will make it blow up a lot faster.
The Smokey Unit Fiat 124 Spider, which features Volkswagen turboc-diesel power, is a beautiful piece of racing machinery, but suffered the lash of many penalty laps for going waaaaay over the mandated $500 budget.
The best part about LeMons South Fall race is that, for reasons we don’t quite understand, the city of Camden allows us to take over several blocks of downtown for a combination street party/car inspection. We parade race cars past bewildered Camdenites, park them, and look over the cars while live music plays and racers stagger around in costume.
Some teams played up the War Between the States aspect, in honor of the race taking place in the first state to secede back in 1860. We saw quite a few Union and CSA generals on hooptied-out race cars.
Back to the cars, we’ve finally checked off a big item on the LeMons Cars We’d Like To See Wish List: the Cadillac Catera!
The team has combined Ziggy the Duck with a Duke of New York chandeliers-on-the-hood theme. We think it works very well. Right now the racers are gathering up a betting pool, with the winner being the one who guesses which lap the Catera’s engine will blow. Most guesses are in the low double digits.
The entry that’s getting the most attention is, of course, the 1950 Mercedes-Benz W136 of NSF Racing. The car was apparently used as a staff car by an Air Force unit in Germany during the post-WWII era, then spent decades rusting away in Texas.
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The Mercedes-Benz engine was a goner, so the team swapped the only cheap engine they could find that would fit in the cramped engine compartment: a BMC B engine from a ’75 MGB. It hasn’t turned a lap yet and it’s already one of the Greatest LeMons Cars of All Time.