Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Showroom-Schlock Shootout 2011: Thursday and Friday

This is a recollection of Team Resignation's experiences at the 24 Hours of LeMons race at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., from October 7-9. It will be published in three parts and probably be very boring. But pictures!


After months of thrashing on their Ford Escort (albeit with less flailing on it than last year), Team Resignation found themselves ready to put the car on a [rented] trailer and tow it [with a borrowed truck] to Autobahn for another grimy weekend of self-loathing, humiliation, fear, speed, good company, more humiliation, on-the-spot repairs, thrills, and all-around awesomeness.

Eric arrived at Team Resignation World Headquarters in the afternoon the day before the race. Kiko and Johnny had previously taken the borrowed truck to pick up our enclosed trailer and borrowed generator. At this point, the car had only made three very short test drives and another where Kiko had nearly driven the wheels right off, so they weren't really sure how intact the car really was. While Kiko ran to collect some extra tie straps, Eric took the car for a spin. The car felt good and loud, but he didn't ratchet the motor up too high for fear of terrifying the locals with the loud, booming-fart voice of the Nixonmobile. They were already on edge from seeing a rhinoceros-Escort with a mannequin strapped to the roof, so any attempts to blast down the road in broad daylight on a weekday were surely ill-advised.

With at least a little confidence in the car, Eric and Kiko put the car and most of Kiko's garage into the trailer, which was tall enough to bear Nixon at his full height. The packing came and went smoothly, so they locked up the trailer around 5 and retired early for the next day.


Friday morning found Kiko and Eric at the gates about 15 minutes before they were supposed to open. However, a brief 105-minute delay kept Team Resignation and several other teams in the parking lot while the teams signed up for test-and-tune were allowed to trickle through the gates. They killed time by catching up with a some teams they hadn't seen since last year's race and talking with some teams they had seen last year but hadn't met. When the gates opened, Eric and Kiko staked out a spot on the paved part of the paddock near the North Course while they waited for Johnny to show up with the trailer.

The time in between was spent eating food, scowling at other teams who looked envious of their sweet paddock space, and gawking at the Star Mazdas and old Le Mans prototypes running on the North Course's open track day. They also helped next-door team Team Flaming Fiero, who turned out to be excellent pit neighbors, set up their paddock space a bit.

Johnny showed up with the car around 11:00, and the team quickly unloaded the trailer and finished preparing it for Tech and BS inspections. When they had pulled out the car and all of the necessary paperwork, they dressed up like Nixon volunteers and threw the bribe together. They rolled up to pit inspection behind the Eurotrash Jetta, which was blasting terrible techno music while arms rigged up on wiper motors pumped to the beat out the passenger windows. Team Free Candy pulled up behind the Nixon car and much swapping of laughter occurred between teams as they admired each others' liveries.

When an inspection lane opened up, the co-conspirators pushed Nixon into the tech shed. After a pretty thorough lookover of the car, the inspector pointed out two small problem areas: some sharp edges where they'd cut out the inside of the driver's door to fit the cage and the exposed positive terminal on the battery. Each just required a spot of tape and the Escort would be ready for racing.

BS Inspection with the skeptical and honorable LeMons Supreme Court followed. As with last year, Judge Phil was enamored with the Nixon theme and scarcely glanced at the car. It probably could have been a Sierra Cosworth touring car and he would have waved it through. He took a few pictures and asked for a copy of the Nixon stencil that Eric's talented brother Phil Rood had designed. Eric, lacking a copy with him, promised to bring one back later. Eric made the gracious judges take a cursory glance at their budget, which Judge Phil photographed for posterity. After handing Judge Sam this year's bribes, he sprayed the "Justice" stencil on Nixon's back. It didn't turn out particularly well, but it looks good when the light hits it just right.

The end result of BS Inspection was the same as last year: Class B, zero penalty laps.

Johnny, Kiko and Eric got their safety gear tech'd with no major issues and headed back to the pit space. The Fiero team, having failed tech for a minor cage detail, asked to borrow the [borrowed] generator to run their welder. Team Resignation graciously agreed and would end up trading tools, insults, beer, stories, and food for the rest of the weekend.

The rest of the afternoon was mostly spent finishing the small tasks left to do on the car: Tape over the sharp edges and battery terminals, mount the radios, finish mounting Nixon to the roof so he wouldn't fly off and crush someone's radiator, align the car with a bit of toe out, and change the tires to our "A" set.

The team wrapped that all up by about 4 p.m., when Eric returned to the tech shed with a copy of the Nixon stencil he'd found. When Judge Phil showed LeMons Chief Perpetrator Jay Lamm, Jay wondered why in the hell the Nixon team had given out a stencil of Bob Hope.

With nothing much left to do, the team hung out in front of our pit space and socialized with any teams that happened by, most notably the Racing 4 Nickels guys, with whom TR had become friendly last year. Johnny headed back to Woodstock for the night, while Norbert arrived after dark, when he got his first glimpses of the car by flashlight. Dave showed up later still, and the team caught some sleep in the trailer, which turned out to be as cold and uncomfortable as it looks.

See all of Team Resignation's photos here.

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