Broadening my motosports horizons I joined the Dennis Motorsports group for the 2012 edition of the 24 Hours of Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest at New Hampshire Motorspeedway a couple weekends back. Taking what must be a vehicle "purchased" for $500 or less and making it raceworthy via safety equipment it was our job to race it for 14 1/2 hours over two days (no lights at the track prevents nighttime racing).
The race and experience as a whole was extremely enjoyable. Racing head to head against over a hundred other beaters was quite the thrill, as was contesting a race wholly on asphalt and on a National level track like NHMS.
After getting in about a half hour of practice on Friday we were off to the races on Saturday morning. Kind of.
The Dodge Neon began having power issues right away and running extremely hot during its first session on the track. Before coming off the track the Neon was running as high as 2nd in the race. This was not to be however. The Neon was quickly diagnosed with a probable head gasket issue and it was determined an engine swap was needed.
The Dennis clan is nothing if not resourceful and got to work on the engine swap right away. I stood back and assisted where I could with my limited mechanical aptitude (mostly handing things over, finding tools, etc.) and four hours later the Neon was back on the track. I got about 45 minutes of racing in at the end of the day and didn't embarrass myself or wreck the car.
The second day didn't go so smoothly for me and that's where I would quibble with the management of the Lemons series. Agreed it is supposed to be some kind of amusing, sophomoric type of motorsport but it takes itself serious enough to hand out $500 in winnings at the end (in nickels) and rakes in some $100,000 in entry fees per event. Given the aforementioned the decisions of the series' officials should be more well thought out.
On Saturday I was black-flagged for two separate incidents. The first was supposed "speeding" in the paddock. With no speedometer in the car I can't say how much I exceeded the 10 mph limit but it wasn't much and when I was brought in for it I was told that they didn't know how fast I was going and when I said my guess was 20 mph, the response was that I wasn't going that fast but that they didn't know how fast I was going. What???? You're just guessing??
Secondly, I was blackflagged for "hitting another car" in a sharp right hand turn. I explained that I had the inside position on the car and was under braking when the outside car cut across my nose when I tapped him and we both continued on. Now at best this situation was a 50/50 racing event with both drivers to blame for various infractions but I was called in just because it was reported that I had hit someone and anyone on the inside position is automatically found at fault per the official I spoke to. Great...
This is to say nothing of the poor corner workers, inconsistent yellow flags and black flags for passing under said inconsistent yellows. At worst the officials should have assessed a drive through penalty for "passing under yellow" as it was often near impossible to discern the exact moment a yellow would come out and immediately stop passing the 100+ cars on the track.
None of this is to say I didn't enjoy myself. I did. I just hate the interference of "officials", especially when their opinions are enforced without true thought or reason. Which is one reason I like Rally and desert racing. Their results are more purely driven off of the performance of your vehicle and driving, and not external factors and decisions.
The weekend results for the Dennis Motorsports Neon?? We finished 78th out of 117 entries completing 255 1.6 mile laps on the NHMS roadcourse.