Team name: Shake & Bake
Team members (L to R) Matt Leger, Pedro Garcia, Matt Cone, Daniel Crescitelli
The beautiful thing about Lemons is that it hosts such a wonderful cross section of the racing community. One one hand, you have the veteran teams who’ve been around for many races, know exactly what to do, and often end up in the top ten. On the other, you have the bare rookie teams who roll in with hardly a clue about what exactly it is they’ve gotten themselves into. Team Shake & Bake is definitely in the latter. Four friends with an average age of 20, they decided to put together a team, prep a car, and enter the 2018 Halloween Hooptiefest.
Right from the start, their weekend started as a disaster. On Thursday night, they find out they need to put a clutch in their Subaru Legacy. So they load up and decided to deal with it at the track. Friday comes and goes, the clutch gets done well enough, and they bring the car to tech early Saturday after thrashing all night on next to zero sleep.
Saturday comes and the hits keep on coming. Their cage is a disaster, and they paid close to $2,000 to have it “professionally done.” It failed miserably . Crap design, junk bends, and ugly porous welds were the fail trifecta.
Now at this point, many teams would pack it in and start heading for home. Not these kids. They head out and start cutting out their cage in preparation for a new one. Then they start beating the paddock for parts and help. That help starts coming in. By a miracle, there’s enough spare tubing, a couple of experienced welders, and a tubing bender suddenly appear. So this would appear that the team would find a fire, get motivated, buckle down, and finish it up in time? Not quite.
The story takes an interesting twist when luck (good or bad depending on which side you were on) takes a hard turn into the wall. Team Magic School Bus, a veteran team running a Subaru Forester, gets smacked. Their car is toast, so knowing of Shake & Bakes woes, offers them their cage to adapt. The Legacy and Forester of that era were pretty similar in chassis, so on paper, this actually could work.
The team now starts buckling down and getting to work again. Now they have a garage to work in, and more tools start appearing. Things begin to look up again, and those watching are hopeful.
Progress is minimal and the team is beat from a lack of sleep and food. Across the paddock, Team Bent Over is having a rough night. They were running in the top 10 and blew an engine late in the day. They know of Shake & Bake’s situation and offer their car to them for $500, as they had sourced a new car to run the next day. For that bold move by Bent Over, they earned the “I Got Screwed”
Now there’s another new plan for S&B. Drive two hours, grab a parts car than one of the guys has in his yard and do an engine swap at the track. The parts car is buried, won’t start, and they don’t have the tools to deal with it because they’re all back at the track. To add insult to injury, there was a minor incident with the rental truck when one of the drivers fell asleep at the wheel on the way back.
Okay, if you’re following now, the team now owns two dead race cars, smacked a rental truck, and hasn’t turned a lap. They give the Subaru away for free, and find other ways to learn from the experience. They’re doing pit stops with other teams, helping wrench on competitors’ cars, and generally learning the positive ways of the Lemons community. They have learned to embrace the suck and are making the best of a bad situation.
It kind of sounds like the plot for a great racing movie. A group of friends finally decides they want to go Lemons racing. So they get a car, get it caged up, get the gear, and get themselves up to New Hampshire. Then things go so very wrong, they overcome, find redemption and triumph in their own unique way. For their efforts, determination, and all around gumption, they earned one of Lemons special regional awards. In this case, “The Most Expensive Swap Meet Find.”
This is just the first chapter of the story of Team Shake & Bake. They are four young men with big dreams of racing. What they learned this weekend will definitely carry them pretty far. Hopefully there will be a sequel.
Author’s Note: It feels like things have come full circle. I first read about Lemons on Redusernab back in 2010. Now eight years later, I’m writing a story about it.