We did it! We won our class at the 24 Hours of Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway! Yea, that’s right, we won. We got the trophy and the big cash payout that almost covered gas, hotels, and tolls. Yeah!
Thanks, we appreciate your congratulatory chuckle and nod as you’re reading this.
A win is a win but there is one problem – this was not really the way we wanted to win. But we will keep our cash and trophy, thank you very much. Allow me to explain.
This was a rather different race from the start. First, it seemed somewhat lacking in typical Lemons enthusiasm and craziness. Secondly, probably related to the first, was the fact that we were placed in class C and given some penalty laps. While we were more than fine with that, we couldn’t help but think why we were placed in class C despite the fact that for the last four years we were always placed in class B.
It turned out that there was a serious lack of class C cars. You know, class C, the cool, the wacky, the crazy, and the unbelievable hoopties that only the biggest of idiots would attempt to race. In order to make up for that several class B cars were placed into class C and given penalty laps. That was actually a brilliant call on the part of the judges, and not only because we won.
Speedcreep is what some call it. Basically, with each race and with each season, cars get faster and faster. It’s not a blatant thing but it’s there. The last time we raced here, two years ago, we ran very clean and finished third in class and fifteenth overall. Not bad at all, right?
This year we also ran a relatively clean race, with a few issues on day two. Issues consisted of the transmission not shifting in fourth and having a shit set of back-up brake pads. The Hawk Blue 9012 front brake pads we were using until now were discontinued. We bought Power Stop Track Day pads as replacement and they lasted less than a day, and had what can be described as a low initial bite. Crap pads, avoid.
The real reason why we won was attrition. Many of the C class cars that did show up were real shit. The better C cars ran on and off, and many of them hauled ass when they did run. Others ran great until a catastrophic failure. But we did have a few close competitors.
Until the midpoint of day two we were separated by half a lap from our nearest competitor and they were gaining. Unfortunately they were involved in a strut-tower bending accident. Miraculously, they fixed it! Unfortunately halfway through their return lap, they lost the rear wheel. It actually fell off!
This is why we won. All of class C crapped out or wrecked out at some point. Despite racing basically without brakes and fourth gear for half a day, we managed to win our class because no one was running, or at least running well.
Here is why the judges made a good call. Despite winning our class, we finished 29th overall. Had we been put into class B this year, we would have finished 12th in that class, an amazing 44 laps behind the class B winner, and 60 laps behind the overall winner. Two years ago we finished third in class B and fifteenth overall. This is what speedcreep is.
I don’t know what can be done about it. One thing that Lemons does not require is an amount of pit-stops per day. I know there are guys doing three-hour stints. The requirement is four drivers per team but given a big enough fuel cell, a team could do two drivers and one pit stop each day.
I’m looking at some numbers, at what we’d need to do to once again be competitive in B. The easiest thing to do would be to get a fuel-cell and go from three to two pit-stops per day. That would take our stints from 1:45-ish to 2:30-ish. I don’t think that’s something I’d want to do. At that point it stops being fun and possibly becomes dangerous, or at the very least unhealthy. That’s just my opinion.
We are looking at adding more go and stop power. We’re looking at adding lightness. We’re looking at different rubber. And we’re looking at driver improvements. But despite all of this, it will be difficult, but not impossible, to gain 40 laps in a race where we completed 463. Our fastest lap was 1:29:38. The team that finished 14th overall had a similar best lap, competed 492 laps.
Perhaps it’s time for a different car. Perhaps it’s time for a different racing series. Perhaps it’s time to get really serious. Or, perhaps, it’s just time to accept that we’re doing it just for fun. But because we’re idiots, the last one is unlikely. Class B, now and forever.