Friday, October 21, 2011
Showroom-Schlock Shootout: Schunday
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!
As with last year's race, Sunday was probably the least-exciting day, which was actually a good thing. There were no major issues that kept the car off the track, driver changes came quicker (thanks to not also having to fix things), and the car pretty much ran like clockwork for the majority of the day.
The team started the day off correctly with a LeMons racer breakfast and a very brief drivers meeting at the tech shed. Kiko took the first stint in the car because his only stint Saturday had been cut short by a broken half-shaft and he'd spent only about 20 minutes in the car. He racked up a solid 30 laps in 75 minutes, though he brought the car back in missing a headlight and with a large dent in the driver's side front fender.
While he couldn't recall who'd tagged him, Kiko said he'd been broadsided entering Turn 11 by an aggressive driver who apparently thought his (or her) car was about four feet shorter than it actually was. The damage was insignificant (and mostly limited to the driver's door being slightly more difficult to open), though Kiko told anyone remotely affiliated with the track or the race that there was a headlight on track. Judge Phil shrugged it off with something to the effect of "I'm sure your car is hardly the only one that's left pieces out on the track."
Dave hopped in the car for the day's second stint and gradually worked his lap times down until he became the second TR driver to break the 2:00 barrier. Dave's pushing came at a cost, as he got the car's back end loose exiting turn 10. This would normally be correctable, but he found himself on the curbing and unable to correct it. He spun out and the car stalled and wouldn't start again.
The team met him and the non-running car at the pit entrance, and the team was baffled by the car not starting again. The tow truck was just about to hook up to take the car to Team Resignation Track Headquarters when Eric noticed that the inertial fuel pump shutoff switch (the thing that cuts your fuel supply in an accident) had been tripped. He reset the switch and the car started right up. Luckily, the judges were lenient for the team's first flag of the day, and Dave, a little nervous perhaps, returned to the track to put in another 30 minutes or so of careful driving and fuel conservation.
Johnny hopped in the car for the middle stint and racked up several sub-2:00 laps while knocking a half second off the weekend's fastest lap (set by Norbert on Saturday). The rest of the stint was largely uneventful, and Johnny brought it in with Team Resignation having worked up seven places in the standings to 65th place. Eric took the next stint and grannied the car around the track for an hour (through a lot of yellow flags, including one that involved a Ford Fiesta with three wheels) while the rest of the team ran to the gas station to pick up enough fuel to finish the race. Eric returned to the pit at literally the same moment as Johnny and Andrea, who had gone out for the fuel. His very-sl0w-and-kind-of-steady driving had picked up another spot in the standings as other teams desperately thrashed on their broken rides.
Norbert then took the wheel with 150 minutes of race time remaining. He proceeded to clock dozens of extremely fast laps, knocking almost 6 (!) seconds off Johnny's fastest lap. His lap times were consistent as long as the flag stayed green, and he had worked up another few spots in the standings.
Eric selected Johnny to take the next short (about 45 minutes) so that Kiko could take the checkered flag. But Johnny only completed three laps before getting black flagged and having to undergo the "embarrass yourself" penalty of "Mime Your Crime." Frustrated, he reported that the car was hard to get going and that it seemed like a clutch issue. With about 50 minutes of race time left, Kiko hopped in the car to take it home to the checkered flag.
Over the radio, Eric warned him about the clutch issue and to put it in 4th gear and leave it there to limp to the finish. But Kiko quickly found out that the clutch wasn't the problem, but there was an odd throttle issue that did indeed make it hard to get going from a stop. On track, this wasn't much of an issue, as whatever the issue was basically rendered the gas pedal an On/Off switch (Full throttle or no throttle, no real in-between). So Kiko took advantage of the still-good clutch and flogged the car, becoming the fourth TR driver to break 2:00.
He brought the car around at 4:00 p.m. to the checkered flag with his fist pumping all the way down the main straight, and Team Resignation's race was over with 246 laps completed, good for 57th place and less than a lap behind the 56th place #9 Geo Metro. On pit road, Kiko got a much-deserved high-five from the LeMons judges and parked the car.
The team cracked open some much-deserved Cold Ones and headed to the awards ceremony. The total awards results can be found here and here with the full stories, but it's worth mentioning that Team Resignation's good friends Racing 4 Nickels (see photo below of the R4N guys in their monkey suits) took home the Index of Effluency trophy (LeMons' highest honor) for their 48th place finish in a truly terrible Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which had also finished mid-pack in the 2010 Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500.
After the awards ceremony, Team Resignation captain designee Eric handed out the honorary case of Schlitz (the trophy wasn't done due to unforeseen engine swappage) to Byte Marks Racing, the winner of the inaugural Little MoFo FoMoCup (more on this in a later post).
Team Resignation then packed it in for a team photo and a handshake with Nixon before throwing everything in the rented trailer. And as the sun set and the trailer returned to Team Resignation World Headquarters in [LOCATION REDACTED], the co-conspirators noticed that the volume appeared turned down on life. At least until next spring...
See all of Team Resignation's photos here (Eric's photos) and here (Dave's photos).