What's all this about?
Armed with a team of barbeque and
automotive experts and a 1989 Saab 900
purchased for $400, Team Carbeque is a
unique racing team determined complete the 24 hours
of LeMons... all while making barbeque under the hood.
Find out more: >> Click here to read our mission statement
Triumph and Tragedy
Is this the end?
Posted by Captain A on December 7, 2014, 10:00 pm CST
Breath in, get ready...it's the first race of the 2014 season, and paired with the powerhouse of crapbox racing eEuroparts.com it was time to DOMINATE! We were headed to New Jersey Motorsports Park, specifically Thunderbolt raceway, which is a fast, semi flat, treeless race course in the NICE part of Jersey. OK well, I suppose the only thing that made these few acres 'nice' was the lask of seething projects. Luckily, we got to pass some on the way to the hotel, so the experience was genuinely realistic.
Usually I say something like, this wasn't just any normal race...but no race is a normal race. Every single one (look through the backlogs) was a unique challenge with supremely memorable...uh...memories. right.... Well, this race the CBQ was graced with the privalege to race with some of the coolest guys you can meet, Full Nelson racing.
Full Nelson Racing's brilliant SAAB 96, powered by a supercharged and water injected Geo Metro three cylinder engine, is a sight to behold. It's a little brown lump of win that seems both completely unlikely and extremely rare. When you stand next to it, you really know you are in the presence of something you've never seen before, and will probably never see again. This is what makes LeMons racing so ridiculously entertaining, and we were right at the bleeding edge of awesomeness. There were other cars too, but they didn't have hood mounted floating water injection pressure gauges. Science.
After tech and BS inspections, the cars were classed in B and C respectively. Class A is reserved for the fastest cars, usually BMW's and Volvo's that can build up some very high speeds. Class C is where the weird, kooky, and often much slower cars are relegated. Class C is everyone's favorite class, as it often has the most obscure showing of race cars. It is also the one with the most prize money, as encouragement from The 24 Hours of LeMons to build a C Class car. The Full Nelson 96 fits in perfectly.
The Q was being driven by its owner, Me, Adam from eEuroparts cataloging, as well as Zak from customer service, My dad Dan, and Alan Camyre from the west coast division. The Full Nelson 96 was being driven by it's owner Eric Nelson, Jordan Pagano from product development, Kip Moncrief, Josh Meinke, and SAAB Fanatic Bruce Turk.
We enrolled in the Friday test day to work on the CBQ's freshly installed Trionic system tune, and to scrub the tires. The new Bilstein HD's transformed the handling of the car. The 96 had a few drivers that had never driven the car before, so it's test session was primarily for familiarization with the interesting handling and power dynamics of the car. Friday closed without much event, and a slightly rich but overall solid tune for the 900. The 96 was having slight issues with blowing the fuse for the water injection pump, but they were resolved when a wire was found to be pinching in a door hinge and shorting.
Saturday morning. 10AM. Both cars roll out of our space to take the green flag, coasting in first gear through the paddock past several cars that suffered failures on Friday and were still busy working to get out on track. When the flag fell, everything seemed right. All the hard work was paying off. Both engines revved happily to (and past) the redline, and after we settled into the flow of navigating traffic. Cars like the 'Sorry for Party Racing' Firebird and the fox body Mustang of the 'Near Orbital Space Monkeys' were fast. Very fast. When they appeared in our mirrors, we got out of the way. This is endurance racing after all, and we had 14 hours of racing still to do. Other cars, like the Super Grover Rover P6B 3500 and the 3-Pedal Mafia Ford Cortina were easy work for us, arriving in front and disappearing in our mirrors in only a matter of seconds.
About an hour in, the front splitter on the 'Q started to rattle and shake as the result of a jarring off-track excursion in practice while learning the track (Zak). The hardware that held it on was weakened, and eventually broke from the stress of being on track. After a few laps it was clear something was very wrong, and the car pulled in to yank off the stricken bodywork. Only losing 5 or 6 laps, we put the car back out and started climbing the ranks once again.
The 96 came off and went back on periodically to check the water injection system. Without it, the engine would overheat and melt. An ongoing problem with the brake master cylinder was getting worse, and caused the car to have very long pedal throw and extremely squishy feel. Regardless, it was surprising everyone except for it's owner due to is speed. It was a class C car, but definitely kept up with much of the higher classed competition. At some point, the always fabulous Soggy showed up to hang out with us, and cook bacon. Look at all of it. LOOK AT IT.
As the day went on, problems commonly associated with endurance racing cheap cars stayed few and far between. Both teams were able to relax as the laps ticked by. With 6 o'clock rapidly approaching, we came back to greet the cars after the day one checkered flag, only to see The Carbeque 900 in shambles. In the closing laps, an overzealous group of very fast cars threw caution to the wind while battling each other and our final driver got caught up in it. The Q was pushed wide and then tapped in the rear, causing a spin back on to the track to get summarily clobbered by passing traffic. The entire front subframe was very bent. Headlights shattered, hood mounts broken, front engine mount relocated to the left, and bumper dislocated by a good seven inches. The ribs cooking on the engine were…..still good actually. Quite good in fact, and served as a bittersweet dinner as we tried to pull together what had just happened. It seemed that it was all over at this point.
This wasn't the only accident of the day, just like New Hampshire, this race gained a reputation early with having an extremely aggressive field of drivers. Several teams spent Saturday night, like us, repairing their busted up race cars.
We tore all the dangling parts off the 900, took the hood off, and hooked it up to our tow rigs. One to anchor, one to pull, we gently pulled and yanked on the bent up car, which squealed, creaked, and cracked back into shape like a child complaining in a doctor's chair while getting his broken arm reset. A crowd gathered to witness the frame pulling, expecting some kind of accident. Fortunately we couldn't satisfy their lust for epic failure, and the straightening went exactly as planned. Special thanks to friend of eEuroparts (and Full Nelson Driver) Kip Moncrief who spearheaded the effort himself, he's not new to the process after running several high contact racing series in the past. Once completed, and after a brief test drive, we settled into the party that had erupted all around us. The 96 only needed a wheel bearing at the end of day one next to the brake master cylinder, and it was done quickly.
The dance music turned up, the spirits began to flow, and even after such an accident we had a great time. The entire paddock was a blend of flying sparks, whirling angle grinders, and the hilarious antics of alcohol fueled shenanigans.
Sunday morning came early, and at 8:15am the paddock was assigned a tongue lashing from series organizer Jay Lamm due to the high number of contact related incidents on Saturday. The 15 worst offending teams were called up and had their cars start the race, parked, engine off, in the penalty box for one full hour, effectively dropping them out of contention. We put our suits on and warmed the engines on our racecars.
Strapping in, someone noticed the radiator on the Q had an accident-related leak that didn't show up earlier. This caused us to be late for the morning green flag, and once again set us back early in the day. The 96, after having a new master cylinder put in overnight, felt much better. IE not as scary barreling into turn one at nearly 100mph, staring directly at the wall in front of you with no pedal feel at all.
Fuel stops all went as scheduled, and just as we like it, both cars kept circulating all day. Near the end of the race, the Full Nelson 96 pulled off track, sputtering out of fuel. The on-facility fuel pump had been drained over the course of the weekend so they had to run into town to fill a couple jugs shortly beforehand. They lost very little time and was able to get the car back out on track for the final checkered flag. The feeling was all kinds of epic. Both cars ran fantastically, and besides a serious accident (no one was hurt, the car took the brunt), we were able to rise above the tribulation and finish much higher than anyone could have anticipated. The historically fragile 900 transmission held together all weekend, the Red Line MT85 fluid worked fantastically.
The final standings went as follows. Team Carbeque: 8th place in class and 36th overall, while the Full Nelson SAAB 96 achieved an AMAZING podium finish, 3rd in class and 43rd overall out of over 160 total entries. Unfortunately the ribs couldn't cook all the way through because of all the new open space on the front of the car after the crash. This would be the Q's last race, and what a finale it was. The 96 will be back to die another day, until then stay tuned for coverage for all of our races right here on eEuroparts.com. Check out the complete photo gallery HERE.
Say goodbye to the historical Carbeque front valence, you will be missed.
2 Weeks Left, The Q Lives!
Posted by Adam1 on April 27, 2014, 8:25 pm CST
Sorry for lack of updates, putting the car back together has taken precedent, and it really shows! The car started after it's long surgery and is now driving. The engine is now controlled by Trionic 5, a SAAB developed self adapting ignition and fuel injection computer. Woohoo, the members are all getting their things together and we're about to go racin! This has been a LONG winter.
50 days left, The Carbeque reaches it's maximum state of entropy.
Posted by Adam1 on March 17, 2014, 10:14 pm CST
Nestling into it's new role of being the eEuroparts warehouse eyesore, The Carbeque has finished getting taken apart and has finally begun to go back together. The junkyard engine Soggy and I picked up a few races back went straight into the car, without having any work done to it. Only one race later it decided it would pull its best [insert oil disaster] and mess up anything it rolled over. This was especially bad after 16 or so hours at wide open throttle, where it would complete the victory tradition of emptying itself over some unlucky helpgiver's trailer. No More! The main seals have been done, the oil pump seal, head gasket, intake and exhaust seals, waterpump seal, oil filter housing seal, valve cover gasket.
So now is when it gets interesting. The used KYB shocks are getting traded for Bilsteins (which will be summarily painted white, have a KYB decal put on them, and dragged through some mud).
On top of that, the Bosch LH2.4 Jetronic fuel injection and distributor will be going to the eEuroparts.com swap meet. It will be replaced with SAAB Trionic 5 out of a free 9000CSE parts car that was getting junked. *DEEP BREATH* This fully electronic engine management system was way ahead of its time, being capable of increased power AND fuel mileage due to sequential fuel injection. The knock sensor has been replaced with a coil on plug ignition cassette that detects fuel ionization based on a weak current it sends across the spark plugs, sending info back to the ECU that can advance or retard ignition as it so pleases. It also takes the MAP and O2 sensors in consideration in its determination to provide most efficient and powerful running.
Other upgrades will include wider tires on the big red wheels previously reserved for road use only. They weigh as much as Saturn, so they were only considered AFTER Trionic was decided on, as unsprung weight is the worst think you can introduce to a race car. I still cringe about it. They are *so* heavy.
An exhaust system that doesn't blow directly onto the fuel tank is also going on. LeMons used to not care about exhaust systems that just exited under the car as long as it was behind the driver, but now they are strictly enforcing an entire exhaust system so that's about that. Spoil sports.
So it sounds like the car is getting some big upgrades, but in reality all these things just add uncertainty to a design that has been proven to run well and finish races. You should be excited, nobody knows what is going to happen in the next few weeks!
New event added, The Real Hoopties of New Jersey - May 9,10,11 2014
Posted by Team Captain on January 22, 2014, 8:46 pm CST
Hold on to your biscuits, this team has some reach! From Wisconsin, to Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, and now New Jersey... Is there a record we could break somewhere for most states Manifold BBQ'ed in? If there isn't, then let's make one! ..what? hold on I'm getting a call here. Uh huh..oh really? Well F... damn you Top Gear America!!! Next race: New Jersey Motorsports Park. Please enjoy the video our pal Speedycop made at last years race while we source some really wide cheaty tires for all those sweeping turns!
Wisconsin, you will be missed
Posted by Adam, Captain on January 22, 2014, 7:12 pm CST
Let's be frank, it's no secret that Wisconsin is a state of foodies. I mean, they have pretty much cornered the sausage and cheese market (don't believe those commercials about California's wonderful happy cow fluff nonsense, good cheese comes from winter/battle hardened cows), but if it's something they aren't known for, it's slow cooked barbecue. It might look like we are trying to change that by coming back to Road America twice in two years, but any semblance of counter-cuisine intent is complete coincidence. We're back mostly because this might be the last opportunity for our Carbeque to race here. If you read about the adventure that went down here last year, you will know that we really love this place. The long straights are perfectly suited for our operation, which is the act of cooking meat on an engine amidst glorious WOT. The team will be moving east at the end of the year, so what better way of casting off than a class win!
Right....so that didn't happen this time...again. We sailed through tech inspection easily on Friday, brought the car back to the paddock space, and buttoned it up like we were professionals. The meat was chilling nicely in a cooler that, luckily from a logistics standpoint, did not need to be full of ice. That's mostly because it was NOVEMBER IN WISCONSIN. Now this might be the first I mentioned the cold, mostly because if you have ever been in Wisconsin in November you will understand that bitter cold would be implied. This weekend would mirror our earlier attempts to cook in near freezing temperatures (See, Gingerman 2013), and the results were similarly splendid. There are two drawbacks to racing a SAAB BBQ in sub-40F temperatures, one is that we can only do three racks in one day because the temps are cooler. The second is that being outside for an hour is uncomfortable, and being outside for an entire three day weekend can be torcherous. I guess we are as weathere beaten and battered as anyone at this point, except for Soggy, who came to race along side us once again. More on the Simca in a bit.
And they're off! Green flag dropped shortly after the ice had melted off everything and unfortunately, our starting position was a bit far back. Which would be fine, except it has become clear that the LeMons field is speeding up in general. Drivers and teams are getting to be very experienced, and many are able to do the unthinkable over the course of a contemporary race weekend. This race actually ended up being the closest in history, with the two lead cars battling to the flag stand bumper to bumper. Winning a LeMons race used to be about staying out and not getting black flags, apparently this is no longer enough.
About 40 laps in and running strong, the CBQ was just barely keeping up with the class leaders. Willy finally passed Apocalyptic Racing's Kiwi stuffed Celica to get into the top 5 when the front splitter came loose and began dragging on the ground in braking zones (making a fantastically horrible noise).
This unfortunately warrented our first black flag. We cut some slots and ziptied it back together while Willy stayed strapped in, but that was it. One small failure and we had dropped back out of contention for the win, just a few hours in. Anything can happen, and the temperature on the ribs was still good so we drove on hoping if we could stay out and lengthen our fuel stints, a podium would be possible.
As the pitmaster and I feverously worked out the new strategy (IE, ate a sandwich and flipped through bad Wisconsin radio stations), a towtruck pulled up with our BBQ dragged behind. Bollocks! While trying to make up time, Willy had snapped the throttle cable, and we had no spare. No worries, this is what these crapcan series are all about, inventiveness in the face of ultimate failure. The pitmaster's bicycle was happily propped up against the trailer canopy and BINGO, we had a new bicycle brake throttle cable. Through the firewall it went, with the stock mountain bike crimp on one side attaching to the throttle body, I threaded the other through the gas pedal and the bolt Willy had prepared.
Tightened it all down, and with just a few laps lost the car was ready to get back on track pronto. I decided that since we were so close to the end his stint, for time reasons it would be punctual to send out the next driver, Dan.
Throughout the day, we would lap consistantly, but without making up any real ground on the guys that were able to stay out. When we started this crazy team, Low and Slow wasn't just our method of manifold cooking, it was enough to win (theoretically), but this weekend there was no catching up with a car that wasn't in the pits getting the exhaust welded back on, or rerouting coolant lines to keep everything from exploding.
His stint would be uneventful, as well as Dave's save for a spin when a sudden cloud burst doused the track. Amazingly, that's about how the rest of the weekend went. As is usual about this time during the weekend, the old girl hikes up her dress and legs it for hours on hours. At one point, Apocalyptic thought they would purposely run out of fuel and stall in our pit spot right before a driver change, clever clever.
On Sunday, we only ran into a few minor problems, one being trapped under yellow behind an E36 BMW that was seemingly blowing up all day long (they eventually called it about 5hrs in). A car blew its guts out near the kink bad enough to start a fire, so the constant yellow flag behind the burning oil smokescreen was nearly unbearable. Eventually free, and proceeding through the day as to schedule, a tow truck brought Willy again a second time, with an overwhelmed throttle cable once again. This time, the other end of the cable broke, with the bike crimped end shearing off on the throttle body. We put another bolt on it (pros at it now) and sent it back out. During the last stint, Dan brought the car in because of..a..HRMFMINorfuelleak that was quickly resolved in a safe fashion. The car went back out after a throrough inspection and doublecheck, and that checkered flag dropped once again on the stripey Snow Leopard a few hours later. Even with the mechanical tribulation, the car was able to make it into the top ten in our class, which wasnt too shabby. The EBC Bluestuff brakes worked amazingly as usual, It's so nice to have something truely worked out on the car!
The scene in Soggy's paddock space was unfortunately contrasting. The Simca was having endless issues, culminating in throwing a rod while attempting to push start the car for the final checkered flag. Spares spares everywhere, and nothing that actually worked. You'll notice the hood has a new paint job, denoting the "Hella Busted" state of the Simca.
If nothing else, Soggy can be proud of finding an engine with a nest from every known species of wasp in the northern hemisphere on it. That's something.
Even though The Carbeque is a bit slow, we looked so pro in the pits this time it was amazing, and so fitting since this was the last race the car would run in the American midwest. Starting as a beat up $400 POS found on craigslist, our LeMons car started the journey with nothing but some rust and a hankering for BBQ, but now it has evolved into a great project that has brought people together for the better in all cases.
Hence as life moves on, I, Adam, Team Carbeque Captain will be taking the car and the wishes of it's many many members to the east coast, to live at eEuroparts.com among its SAABy kindred spirits. The prospect of a new life with an old car is one I am excited to fill, and the best part is Dan the pitmaster, my dad will be flying in for the eastern lemons division races that are on the horizon. New "Arrive and Drive" team members will continue to join the effort, as this is not an exclusive car. It's not an exclusive series. Everyone can drive! New schedule coming soon, but for now look forward to see the Q in all its glory at New Jersey Motorsport Park in the spring!
Thanks go to Dave Yong (yes our Dave), and Dan Somers for helping out and shooting the photos you see above!