FinalGear Racing 2010/24 Hours Of LeMons

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Punisher Bass

He who drives a Buick
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The big LeMons journal is about 98% finished, it just needs some polish and it should be up very soon.
 

Jay

the fool on the hill
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So far I see:

Myself
JakeRadden
killpanda
Mischief007

Coming out to Chicago. Anyone else? It is Chicago, and thus pretty central for a lot of you. Course, I only live 20 miles away. :p
 

Punisher Bass

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I was going through my pictures from the race and I ran across one I didn't post before, it's just a picture of the tire tread at the start of day 2. Even after running the entire day before, it was still in good enough shape to finish out the race.

 

GRtak

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So far I see:


Coming out to Chicago. Anyone else? It is Chicago, and thus pretty central for a lot of you. Course, I only live 20 miles away. :p
I would like to come out, but at this point I can't make any guarantees.
 

Clegko

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I was going through my pictures from the race and I ran across one I didn't post before, it's just a picture of the tire tread at the start of day 2. Even after running the entire day before, it was still in good enough shape to finish out the race.

And probably start the next race, albeit on the rear...
 

Punisher Bass

He who drives a Buick
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At long last, it is done and ready for your viewing pleasure.

Before you get started reading, know this is quite long, I reiterate some of what I wrote in the updates but there is much more detail here. Also I use everyone's real name here instead of their forum alias, so you need to know who's who.

Quiky - Justin
McLightning - Karie
EyeMWing - Tony
Clegg - Austin

The Long Road To LeMons.

Day 1: Wednesday June 16th.

I woke up at 6:00am after going to bed just four hours before. I had already packed most of my tools and luggage into The Mighty Buick the night before, so I didn't have much to do other than get a shower and go over my checklist. My goal was to be out the door at 7:00am so I didn't have any time for breakfast, NOS energy drinks and Snicker's bars would sustain me till I got to Maryland over 800 miles away. I admit trying to drive cross country on little sleep is not the brightest idea, but I didn't have much choice.

My first stop after programming Sheila, my GPS, was the local gas station to fill up with good old 93 octane. Once done I was officially on the road around 7:15am, Sheila said I had close to 14 hours till I pulled up to Justin's house, but I was going to see how much of that I could knock off. My only company for that whole time would be the stack of Henry Rollins CD's I burned the night before.

Having lived in the Midwest my whole life, I'm used to driving on long flat open stretches of road surrounded by a lot of farmland. While I find this sort of driving rather relaxing, it doesn't offer much in the way of amusing stories or excitement. My drive through Illinois, Indiana, and most of Kentucky was basically a perpetually straight line. The only interesting thing that happened was that Sheila went a little haywire once I crossed the Kentucky boarder, she lost her connection to the GPS gods and couldn't figure out what time it currently was. The state troopers of Kentucky also don't seem to care how fast you are going so long as you get out of their way so they can drive 100mph.

After this point, getting gas also became a bit of a challenge. Once the Buick was down to around a quarter of a tank, I would start to look for a gas station which turned out to be easier said than done. Several times I would pull off the highway when the signs said there was gas, but I would find nothing but a boarded up station, others would only take cash in advance and they all had long lines. I then found a BP station and saw they would be happy to take my debit card, they were also a total ghost town. I adopted a strategy of looking for only BP stations and each time it was the same deal.

Somewhere in Kentucky I started to hit the mountains, or as the locals round them parts call them ?hills?. Where I come from 3,000 feet is not a ?hill?, it's a mountain. At this point I had been on the road for around 8 hours and was being propped up entirely by the NOS drinks, I was not expecting what laid ahead of me. I found the twisty uphill roads to be fun and stimulating, but after a couple hours of that my attitude had taken a 180. At that point I wanted nothing more than to get back to sea level. I saw some very pretty sights, vastly different than what I'm used to at home, but I just wanted it to be over.

Eventually my torture came to an end when I was about an hour away from Justin's house. I'm not sure exactly what time I arrived, but I had managed to make it before sundown. He and his family were kind enough to put me up in a guest bedroom so I wouldn't have to spend a small fortune for a hotel and for this I couldn't thank them enough.

The GTP was sitting in the garage and having various things worked on, I stood around feeling like a zombie but I tried to help out where I could. A little while later I was introduced to Karie who had stopped by to also lend a hand. The GTP was then rolled out of the garage and I heard it run in person for the first time. I think it's best described as sounding like disorderly conduct on 4 wheels, something HOA neighborhoods hate.

The plans for the next day would consist of running back and forth all over town in search of car parts or supplies for the weekend. I'd also be getting my first taste of Maryland.

Day 2 ? Thursday June 17th.

We woke up early and hit the ground running.

Justin and I climbed into his Tahoe and drove to Karie's where the Final Gear Mobile Command Center was being kept. She and I did a recreation of the caravaning episode of Top Gear with the extended side view mirrors while Justin attached the hitch and got the power hooked up. Despite being a 4x4 with 285hp, the Tahoe didn't have it easy with the FGMCC hooked up, when the GTP was loaded in it would struggle just to hit 50mph. We towed it back to his house and then traded the Tahoe for his Mazda.

We stopped at Burger King for some breakfast and to talk business before we started zigzagging across town. Over the next couple of hours we hit about a half dozen different places, often having to go back to his house to unload the car after a couple stops. We loaded it up with food and water, car parts, tools, propane grill, and a 5k generator. We also hit the local art supply store in search of gold paint pens to do the trim work on the GTP, however they only had a single pen that was wide enough and it had already been opened. Not having a lot of options we grabbed it and then picked up the vinyl's for the car and trailer. The last stop we made was to pick up lunch at a local sub shop, which wound up not sitting well with me later on.

While we had been helping kill the environment by going back and forth across town, Justin's father John and Karie had been working on the GTP. They painted the roll cage, put the padding on, welded in a reinforcement bar across the sunroof, riveted sheet metal over the hole, removed the rear seat belts, and installed the Sparco seat for the final time.

After lunch Justin went to the airport to pickup Austin who was flying in at 3, I stayed behind to begin theme work along with Karie and Justin's mom Debbie. I worked on applying the gold trim while they began free handing the screaming chicken on the hood. At some point in the middle of this, some random guy drove up and asked if we worked on cars for a living and how much it would be for us to repaint his car, he must have had very poor vision.

Next Karie and I tackled the vinyl's for the FGMCC. Neither of us had ever applied one this size before, so we just winged it as best we could. It came out looking ok and you only notice the screwups if you get close to it, but we decided to hold off on the 12 foot ones for the side.

Over the next few hours more theme work was done and the check list was gone over once again to make sure everything was ready to pass inspection. After sundown we loaded up the FGMCC with all of the tools and supplies we'd need over the next few days and then loaded in the GTP. We decided to fill the GTP's gas tank that night since it would be cheaper than paying $3.50 a gallon at the track. After backing the car out and pulling up to the pump, we were expecting all kinds of strange looks from the other people there, but none of them even gave us a second glance.



Right before everyone was about to go to bed around 11:00pm, I saw a message on the official LeMons forum saying that the track was open and they would be open all night to let people come in and set up their paddock space. This was the exact opposite of what Summit Point had been saying up to this point, that the track would open at 7am Friday and not before. Justin called the track up to confirm that they were indeed open, and he was told they had just closed the gates and would not be letting anyone else in. So much for that brilliant idea.

Day 3 ? Friday June 19th.

We crawled out of bed at 5:00am and packed any remaining items into the FGMCC, once Tony showed up at 5:30am we were ready to roll. The hour long drive to the track wasn't without its own challenges. For reasons unknown, Justin's GPS doesn't like him going to LeMons since this was the 5th time it's decided to take him down backroads instead of the highway. The way we wound up going consisted of very bumpy, steep, and narrow roads in very Deliverance like surroundings. Every time the Final Gear LeMons caravan had to stop, we were worried a pack of giant inbred mutant rednecks would descend upon us with plans to make hats out of our kidneys.

We arrived at Summit Point around 7:00am and getting in turned out to be surprisingly easy. We were expecting it to be a cluster fuck because there were four other race events, dubbed Hyperfest, taking place the same weekend at Summit's other two tracks. We signed in, got our bracelets, and began hunting for a spot in the pits.

Pit space for the Shenandoah Circuit was very limited, but thanks to our early arrival finding a spot wasn't difficult. We staked a claim on a corner next to a power box and began unpacking.

Part of the team unloaded the GTP while the others began setting up the pit area. Once the FGMCC was empty, we set about getting the inside setup. Some scrap carpet was laid down, the food was organized, plastic drop cloth was cut and taped over the doors so light could get in and keep bugs out, and we installed our high tech AC system. This consisted of some blocks of wood holding a normal window mount AC unit where the side door opened, Red Green would have been proud. This was great in theory, but the FGMCC currently lacks any sort of insulation which allows it to become a 25 foot long oven. And the AC unit itself could only cool a little 4x7 area directly in front of it, if you stayed in that zone you could survive. The heat would wind up becoming an important issue over the next few days.

Outside, keeping things cool was also an issue but this was about the GTP. Our original plan was to run our 3000 CFM Perma Cool fan as a pusher and keep the transmission cooler on the inside. After driving the car around the pits a little bit, we knew we'd have serious cooling issues if we left things this way. After going over our options we decided the best way to go was to move the transmission cooler to the front of the radiator and reinstall the stock radiator fans. The only problem was that the fans were back at Justin's house...

At 11:30am they announced that they would be opening tech inspections, a half hour earlier than planned, so we decided to get in line so we'd have it out of the way. It turned out to be a very wise choice because later on people were waiting in line for over an hour to get inspected, our wait was only a few minutes. The inspector came over and began looking over the car, everything looked great except for two things that caused us to fail, the way the fire extinguisher was mounted and there was a small hole in the firewall near the cowl.

The moment that inspection ended, Judge Johnny stepped up and began doing our BS inspection, which we were not ready for. We had all the paperwork and pictures proving that we had a legit $500 car along with Smokey & The Bandit costumes, but since we didn't know BS would be right then we didn't have the papers on hand nor were we all dressed up. All of a sudden we were looking down the barrel of 70 penalty laps due to the supercharger, but after some quick talking we got it whittled down to just 10 laps. We weren't happy about it, but whining at LeMons just makes your punishment that much worse.

By the time the GTP got back to our pit area, the temp outside was already above 90 and it would climb to over 100 before the day was over. Pit space was also becoming harder to find, we saw numerous teams shuffling things around so there would be room for everyone to fit. Justin and Karie made a run to the parts store for a new fire extinguisher along with some sheet metal. While they were gone Karie's dad arrived with stock radiator fans. Once they got back, things were put in place as fast a possible so we could get the into tech for a second time.

During the day we had various other teams stop by our pit area to say hello and check out the GTP and take pictures of it. This for me is one of the best parts of LeMons, you're surrounded by people who have the same kind of love for cars that you do, and they don't take things very seriously. Everyone is there to just have a good time and swap stories, not act as if this is NASCAR or F1.

After I made lunch, team We Are Fubar arrived with their own GTP, and I couldn't wait to take a look at it. I was more excited about seeing their GTP than I was the Ferrari which showed up several hours before. After they had their own pit area set up, I took a walk over to introduce myself and check out their car. Their GTP was in much better shape than ours, or at least the paint was. Far as I could see the only upgrade they made to the car were drilled and slotted front rotors, but they were still running with the stock brake system.

I had planned to follow Justin back to his house at the end of the day, but when it came time I found I was just too wiped out to drive. After not getting much sleep the last few days and having a mild case of heat stroke, I just didn't have it in me. So I rode with Justin and Austin, once we got back I took some painkillers for my knees and went to bed. In the morning I knew the real fun would begin.

Day 4 ? Saturday June 20th.

I woke up feeling more refreshed than I had in the last few days, when I crawled into the shower I noticed that my face and neck were hurting and I was sporting a nice sunburn which would become an awesome farmer's tan later on. For the next couple of days I made sure to put on sunblock much more frequently and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

We were at the track shortly after it opened at 7:00am and spent the next two hours getting any final things ready on the car before the green flag dropped. The race tires were put on, the fluids were checked, radios were mounted, and we made sure the radiator fans were working.

We also went over the game plan for driver changes. Because of the intense heat and lack of cool suits for the drivers, it was decided no one should be in the car longer than an hour. Having this many driver changes would cost a lot of time, but it would prevent anyone from having to go to the hospital later on.

There was a mandatory drivers meeting at 9:00am and then the race would start at 10:00am.

The driver rotation order would go Justin, Austin, John, and Tony would finish things off before it went back to Justin.

Justin climbed into the car and began flogging it around the track to see just what the GTP had to offer and where it would need some work. The only real handicap the car had was the tires. The Sumitomo HTR-Z's we had in the front were good, but they were just not wide enough or sticky enough to give us the desired grip. When his first stint was over we let some pressure out of the front tires which helped things out a bit.

Other than that, the car was performing incredibly well. It had more than enough power to pass most of the other cars, the upgraded brakes never showed any signs of fade and allowed us to brake later in a corner, and the engine temp was holding around 200 degrees. The GTP also made a wonderful and very unique exhaust note whenever it zoomed past.

But while the GTP's engine was staying cool, the drivers were not. It became obvious that even the one hour stints were taking their toll any everyone who climbed into the car. All we could do was pour ice into ziplock bags and shove them in their suits right before they were strapped in. Between the ever increasing temperature and some unseasoned drivers, our lap times began to drop off a bit but we kept a steady pace.

Something we noticed during the day was just how shitty most of the corner workers were doing their job. Not only were there were numerous incidents that should have gotten a black flag, but other teams were flagged for doing nothing at all. They truly had their heads stuck up their ass, it got to the point where Jay fired half of them later that night.

With about an hour left to go till the race ended for day 1, the GTP pulled into the pits for what would be the last time. Everyone had taken two stints behind the wheel, but no one had the energy to go back out there, the heat had left everyone totally exhausted. It was decided to let the car cool off for a bit and then we'd pack it into the trailer for the night before heading back to home base.

While the GTP was pounded on during the day, it never showed any signs of faltering, however it didn't escape without a few bruises. Tony was the last driver for the day, and when he pulled in the GTP was sporting a couple of Ike Turner style love taps. The left quarter panel had some white scuff marks where it traded paint with an unknown car, and the rear passenger side door was caved in by a Porsche 944. Thankfully the damage was only cosmetic and the dents can be taken out with some wood and a hammer.



By the time the flag dropped signaling the end of racing for the day, we were already on the way back to Justin's house. On the way we picked up some beer and Mike's Hard Limeade to celebrate with. After we got in the door, we just sort of collapsed on the floor and spent the next hour drinking and doing improv comedy with a set of CV boots and spare brake pads. It was our own mini version of Who's Line Is It Anyway. I don't know how it got started, but it's something I'll never ever forget.

Day 5 ? Sunday June 21st.

We woke up at 7 after getting a few extra hours of sleep but we were all still exhausted from the last few days.

We pulled into the track just after 8:00am and Karie along with Tony were already there waiting for us. They had the FGMCC unloaded and the GTP jacked up so we could inspect it before the race restarted. Like I said, the GTP survived its first beating but it didn't come away unscathed.

The first problem we found was that the tie rod on the driver's side was bent, however there was nothing we could do about it. The parts store was an hour away and it was a Sunday morning, our only choice was to leave it alone and hope it held up. We also found that the resonator had gotten banged up a bit, our best guess was that it happened when the car went airborne a time or two the day before.

While those were not major issues, the next thing we found was. We spotted a fuel leak in one of the lines that runs over the supercharger, in LeMons you have one chance to fix something like this and then you're out of the race. All we could do was tie some wire around it and make it secure enough to stop the leak, obviously this wasn't a true fix but it was enough to get us to the end of the race.



Next we checked the tires and much to our amazement the HTR's looked to have enough life left on them to finish the race, the BFG's on the rear looked brand new. And these were the same tires we started the race with, so we opted to just leave them on. It was the same story with our brake pads, we inspected one side and saw they had 75% life left on them, no reason to change them out.





At 10:30am it would be time for The People's Curse. No car had a majority vote so someone from Police Brutality offered up the Dodge Intrepid they drove to the track. At most LeMons races the Curse car gets destroyed by a claw machine or bulldozer, but not this time. It turns out Summit Point has it's very own gun rage on site, and it was going to be used to destroy the car with a machine gun. Sadly the only interesting thing that happened during the execution was that a tire blew and sent the hubcap flying half way towards the crowd.

At 11:00am there was another mandatory drivers meeting and the race would begin again at 12:00pm.

For this day we decided to reverse the driver order so Tony was first up. After his stint John went out but was forced to come back after 30 minutes, the car had lost power steering and we didn't know why. Luckily the problem turned out to be just a lose screw on the reservoir and we had the car back in action within 20 minutes with Austin at the wheel. However he wound up having to come in early too, the car had gone airborne again and he took a good blow to the noggin when it landed.

So Justin suited up and went out to finish the race.

Shortly after he began his stint, I was told we were sitting in 49th place, but over the next hour and a half that would change. He gave a repeat performance from Saturday and pushed the car to the limit and was flying past damn near everyone else on the track, it was quite a sight to behold. With about a half hour left till the end of the race we had moved up to 43rd.

A few minutes before the checkered flag was waved, we hauled ass across the pits so we could take pictures and video of the GTP on the final few laps. Our final position was still 43rd, but moving up six places wasn't the big news, it was our lap time. With Justin at the wheel the GTP did a best time of 2.02, just 7 seconds off from the leader and 6 seconds faster than the other GTP. Very respectable for its first shakedown race.

After being beat on for two days, the GTP never showed any signs of giving out on us. The few things that did break were not enough to knock us out of the race or have a significant impact on the performance. It showed us which parts of the car are built to last and which ones will need to be replaced or upgraded. Once the repairs/upgrades are made, the car is only going to better.

After Justin got changed out of his suit, we all went to go watch the awards ceremony, but by the time it was over the adrenaline rush had worn off so we slowly shuffled back to the trailer feeling like the living dead. When we got back to our pit space we just sat next to the AC for a little bit to cool off and guzzle some water before we had to start packing everything up for the final time. We had our entire pit area packed away within an hour.

By the time we were ready to roll out, I'd say about half of the teams had already cleared out, some of them leaving their dead cars behind, our pit neighbors with the Dodge were one of them. Back at Justin's house we celebrated with more alcohol before heading to bed. After doing my nightly update for the forums I went to sleep knowing I had another 12 hour drive ahead of me in order to get home.

Day 6 ? Monday June 22nd.

I woke up sometime around 8:00am and began packing my bags. But before I could finish, Justin tried to convince me stick around and leave the next day, an offer I almost took him up on. I would have loved to have an extra day to rest before driving cross country again, but I had to get back home. Once again I have to thank him and his family for their generosity and hospitality, it really meant a lot to me.

After I finished packing up the Buick, I said my goodbyes and told Sheila to take me home. As I pulled away I looked in the rear view mirror and smiled to myself as I replayed the last several days in my head.

The drive home wasn't nearly as painful as the first, especially the mountain driving. Having a decent amount of sleep along with knowing what to expect made it much easier to deal with this time around. The rest of the journey went the same was as the first, gas wasn't easy to find and I ran into more asshole Kentucky state troopers. I did run into a severe thunderstorm which slowed me down from the 80mph I was doing to about 50mph, at least it cleaned off all the dead bugs the Buick had collected.

I pulled into my driveway at 7:45pm after putting 1,705 miles on my car over the last few days. After saying hello to my family and my dogs, I unloaded some of the car before heading back out to grab some dinner. After eating dinner and relaxing for a bit, I crawled into my own bed for the first time in almost a week for some much needed sleep.

The last few days had been grueling and exhausting, but it was incredibly fun and I can't wait to do it again.

 

IceBone

Blue Wheel Hipster
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Nicely written, I really wish we had something like this around here, but I hope I'll write up something like that after the ringmeet. :D What tires were you running, btw, since you said they weren't wide enough?
 

Punisher Bass

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St Louis, MO
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98 Buick Park Avenue Ultra
Nicely written, I really wish we had something like this around here, but I hope I'll write up something like that after the ringmeet. :D What tires were you running, btw, since you said they weren't wide enough?
I said we were running Sumitomo HTR-Z's in front and BFG's out back. However we were running stock sized tires on OEM rims which were 16x6.5.
 

IceBone

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And that wasn't enough to give you good grip? Yikes. I'm running 205/55/R16 and will be giving it the berries at the ring in 1 month. :D
 

EyeMWing

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MD, Amish Country PA
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Many things, none of them working.
What do you expect from front wheel drive in a heavy car with borderline too much power? Sidewall collapse through the turns (of which there were MILLIONS), followed by wheelspin in response to your right foot was prettymuch how it worked.The giant sidewalls were more of an issue than anything.
 

Punisher Bass

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98 Buick Park Avenue Ultra
I wouldn't call the GTP heavy, it's probably around 3100lbs with the cage installed, it's by far the lightest car we've had for LeMons to date.
 

Blayde

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I then found a BP station and saw they would be happy to take my debit card, they were also a total ghost town. I adopted a strategy of looking for only BP stations and each time it was the same deal.
I guess leaking pipes in the Gulf helped you somewhat there :p

Epic write up.
 

That American Girl

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Columbus, Ohio
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None, right now. Bye Bye Mustang. :-(
So far I see:

Myself
JakeRadden
killpanda
Mischief007

Coming out to Chicago. Anyone else? It is Chicago, and thus pretty central for a lot of you. Course, I only live 20 miles away. :p
I shall be there. -) Hopefully to drive if the Team accepts me. I wanted to race in the last one, but I've never done that before, so I wanted to help out a bit in the pits to see what's expected of the drivers first. :p

Had a lot of fun at the last race, even though I had a horrible migraine the whole weekend.
 
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