Countdown: The Last Checkered Flag

Sunday, September 6, 2009

2009 Yee-Haw!

As I write this, that relentless, unforgiving countdown clock at the top of the page reads 40 days until the 2009 Yee-Haw It's LeMons Texas endurance race. This year, our team will be returning with two cars, two driving teams, and a bigger crew than ever. From our entry form:

This veteran team of slow-learners returns with a plan that can only be described as (in the words of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson) "ambitious, but rubbish." The team is bringing eight drivers (two of them new), crew (our families), a professional video producer to capture the whole glorious failure in HD, and two cars, one of which (against all grave warnings) is a Miata. The economic boon alone to the Angleton, Pearland, Lake Jackson metroplex should be reason enough to let our team grid, but we also promise to bring strong themes, clean racing, and a winning joie de vivre (even though we will lose).

We spent months searching for our second car. Ryan and I were pushing hard for a Ford Fiesta postal delivery vehicle that had been converted to be an electric vehicle. It would have been the first right-hand drive in LeMons as well as being the first EV. Plus, it was already a Ford Fiesta, which could practically qualify for LeMons, straight off the showroom floor. We would have easily won the Index of Effluency Award. But, our left-brained tech crew vetoed the idea. It looked like we were going with Mark Hergott's Audi Coupe GT, which had recently been damaged in a hail storm. That's when fate, providence, or disaster struck (we don't know which one, yet).

More photos here.

Back in May, a lady pulled-out in front of me and I plowed into the side of her car, which totaled my beloved 1997 Miata. The front was smashed and it had some frame damage, but it drove pretty good. So, we considered buying back the salvage to make our second race car. The problem was that there had been a backlash against using Miatas in LeMons. Cheating is rampant in LeMons, but the idea of a Spec Miata in the field is too much for even the most jaded competitor. In the Texas races, 100% of the People's Curse recipients have been Miatas. At best, we would risk automatic penalties, which would all but take us out of competition. At worst, Texas would collect another Miata soft-top to hang from its belt like a scalp and we would be out of the race altogether.

Luckily, except for a Jackson Racing air filter and some wheels, the car is completely stock. No suspension upgrades, brakes, or trick limited-slip differentials. I never even bothered to upgrade the plug wires and everyone does that.

So, we have decided to go for it.

The theme for the Miata will be - Michael Jackson tribute car. Among other details, we will have continuity between the two team cars by having a Michael Jackson dummy riding shotgun in the Miata, holding a dangling "Blanket" baby outside the car. We will also be repainting the car during the race weekend, so that the car races black on Saturday and white on Sunday. The car already comes with a botched nose job.

Except for the installation of a cage (which we ordered from, the car is ready for a test and tune on the 25th at Harris Hill.

The Audi 90 is also mostly ready to go, but we have added some lightness, improved the cage (per new rules) and switched from a hydraulic brake booster to a vacuum booster for added reliability. This is particularly important to us, since we feel strongly that a simple broken belt kept us out of the Top 10 last time.

Jimmy "Smooth Criminal" Pribble

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