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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.
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Scaling the Summit Pt. 3
Posted by Cap on July 4, 2013, 5:52 pm CST
We were somewhere outside Virginia, on the Pennsylvania turnpike, when the fatigue took hold. A few blinks, and suddenly a barrage of stars and laser beams filled the cabin and someone was screaming, holy Jesus we're under attack! They were coming straight at us from the front, and in back there was a giant metal behemoth with yellow eyes trying to claw its way through the rear window, clattering and playing with the van like an overweight spider monkey with a bag of agitated carpenter ants. Another blink, and we were back on the turnpike, looking at a very confused toll station attendant demanding some amount of money that I don't even know. Was it $10? $50? Whatever it was, Mike payed the woman and we were on our way. Time to stop for a burger. We had been driving since 10am, and it was approaching two in the morning. We had gone through 3 tanks of gas, and after failing at taping the chains up to prevent them dragging on the ground, we resorted to zip tieing them up. No problem, back on our way, and Mike took the wheel. We arrived at a dive motel somewhere around 4am, and left at 6am to get ready to bring the car to the track. We were in West Virginia, just down the road from one of the coolest road courses this side of the mason dixon line. Summit Point Raceway was just a few miles away, and it was time to start our biggest race weekend of the year on 2 hours of sleep.
We picked the pitmaster up at his hotel, as he had arrived earlier the night before, but since the tow rig was filled to the brim with tires, camping amenities, and various party favors, he would have to ride in the Q on top of the trailer. We weren't sure if this was completely legal (or even hardly legal), but neither of us were in problem solving mode. As a result, he climbed in the race seat and I advised him to slouch down and enjoy a newspaper. When we arrived at the track, long time friend of The Carbeque, the now famous Soggy, was there with the Simca, and a surprise that he had gotten us one of the best pit spaces on the track, right along the wall for the back straight. Bacon adjacent. No matter that it was on a grass incline that we couldn't pull the Q onto due to our fantastic racecar ground clearance, this issue would come up again.
We had not been there 5 minutes before Dan The Pitmaster had the first fire of the day started (save Soggys bacon grill), and not long after Matt and Jordan showed up with glorious glorious pork. This wasn't going to be Carbequed, however, this meat was reserved for a special cause. Jeff, our fourth driver, arrived shortly after with gifts of Redbull and Gatorade. To a LeMons driver, this is the summertime equivalent to Thanksgiving dinner in a cooler. We had a *really* good lineup for this one.
Alex's Lemonade Stand is a charity organization to help fund research for pediatric cancer, and is well established in the LeMons community. We have always wanted to do something for them but have only had moth holes left in our pockets after each race. When I contacted eEuroparts.com to see if they would be interested to join us for the weekend, not only did they volunteer to come down and hang out, they supplied the talented Jordan Pagano to drive as well as sponsoring a BBQ and Beer party to benefit the Lemonade Stand. The three pork shoulders went on the smoker around 10am, and then the real fun began.
(Billy Mays says hi from beyond the grave)
I filled out the pre-tech sheet...
Jordan got a feel for the hot seat...
Soggy bled the Simca's brakes, and then we strolled over for tech inspection......which we promptly failed because of our rear mounted battery box (that had passed the previous four races). Thanks Jay!!
On the other hand, BS inspection went swimmingly (greased with a bottle of Maker's Mark for Judge Phil), and we were once again placed in Class B with Zero penalty laps. At least it felt good to be home, we would worry about the battery box problem after free practice. The other cars going through BS were amusing, although there was one Miata team that had Jeff and Jordan cringing.
Other great entries abound, this was obvious the local LeMons mecca...
(From Dumb and Dumber
(I don't know what this is but it's fun to look at)
(EBC Brakes does not endorse or condone Borat/Freddie Mercury manthongs)
The LeMons practice session was actually hosted by the track, so we didn't need to pass tech to get out there for Friday practice. I went out first and after 10 or 15 laps I came in to let Jordan begin his laps. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember what I was thinking, which was that this track was downright scary to learn. There were blind apex's all over the course that required you to turn in before you saw it. Before memorizing the track, this just meant coming up to a corner and asking yourself "Ok, is this going to end up a left turn or right on the other side of the hill?" and your inner monologue would inevitably answer with "How am I supposed to know, we're connected to the same stupid brain!" Bottom line, this course was tight, technical, and fun as hell. There was no real pit exit, just an escape road that emptied into the middle of a bonzai blind downhill off camber turn where a track marshal would wave you to gun the throttle to get on track. Basically you would roll up, the man in the white overalls would watch the hill and hold you there until he saw a gap, then he would start frantically waving to suggest if you didn't gun it, you would quickly be creamed by an out of control Oldsmobile.
We all made it out of practice alive, and the party started.
(Von Dutch and Yuengling, signs that we are faar from home)
With a few hundred dollars raised for the Lemonade Stand, some empty BBQ trays, and a fixed battery box, we could move on to Saturday without any kind of crisis. Then we failed Saturday morning tech. And a lemon in our plan showed up, time to solve a crisis! Jeff scooped me up in his big shiny SUV and we road raged off to the not-so-local Home Depot to come up with this:
Because of hyperfest starting on the adjacent racetrack, and this being Saturday morning (when the festival was just starting to roar), we were delayed in route when we found the entrance blocked in by hoards of kids in slammed Subarus and 240SX drift jalopies buying their wristbands. This tensed the situation a bit. When I finally got back with the parts, and some piece of metal scrap that Matt procured, the eEuroparts guys drilled and wrenched it down in a few minutes. Super jankey, but this is what Jay wanted, so we did it. It passed somehow, and we took green flag with Jordan behind the wheel nearly dead last. I think we missed the actual green flag by a lap or two. That's ok, to start last you know, because you look more triumphant when you win. Right.
Then we accidentally called Jordan in, and sent him back out embarrassingly.
At around 10:45am a deer had exhibited lack of better judgment and jumped onto the course, finding an unlucky black Alfa. Click the photo for the onboard video this still was taken from, or follow this link for Judge Phil's excellent gif.
(photo courtesy of Three Pedal Mafia Seasprite boat)
The organizers let the car stay out for a lap or two while they came up with a solution. The team ended up building a makeshift windshield out of their fuel caddy, and they lost very little time in the incident. Then their crazy inboard brakes failed and the fast pitwork made no difference. They got the I Got Screwed award. Congrats for that at least.
At some point the Q began bucking, shutting on and off abruptly and caused an unscheduled pitstop. The cable that pretty much carries every electrical signal in the entire car fell behind the engine (where the pulleys and belts are, yea it's a SAAB) and got hella munched. Over crests when the car zero-g'd the main wiring harness was lifting up and tapping the firewall, shorting the entire car to ground. This is the second time we've done this cause we're the best at racecar, and the car doesn't seem to have fried or anything. I find that very surprising, but good news right?
Before sending the car back out the pitmaster took some chicken off. It was the first attempt at doing chicken and it worked! It was delicious! As we hung out on the pitwall eatin on shredded chicken sammiches, a loud screeching interjected our conversation. We look up at the track to see our #23 impacting the wall backwards right in front of us. These are those lemons that come out of nowhere. Mike went to the penalty box and got a slap on the wrist, bribing your friendly judges at BS inspection with Maker's Mark tends to pay off. When we asked Mike if he thought he could go back out (after a brief but thorough damage assessment of course), he adjusted his glasses and obliged with determination.
The final stint on Saturday was a full tank fuel stretch, three hours long. The Carbeque pulled back into the pits at the end of the day nearly 60 places higher than where we started. The attrition helped out a lot, as this course was abusive...and it was hot.
After the checkered flag came out, I pulled in the paddock and cruised back to our pit stall. I looked over at a pit I had hung out in with Soggy the night before, belonging to a pretty stylish little BMW 2002...
Although the team wasn't celebrating. One of their drivers had found the concrete outside the Karusell, at what appeared to be great speed. The driver was fine and all the safety precautions worked as they should. The car was so totalled. They were already pulling the good parts off.
(image courtesy of Henry Gabs Das Boot)
This is what they had to say about it: "Fun but sad day for all. At least we got a full test day and almost a full day of racing. So, afterward, we just got to drinking beers with team J and pulling the engine, inspecting, and pulling off parts to keep busy. What else was there to do but drink beer, party and wrench some more. It was still a good time, but if we heard one more "That will buff out" someone was going to get throat-punched." Sad to see it go, guys. Can't wait to see what you have in store.
Climbing out of the car I felt like a rockstar, the long stint worked and the team jumped up around 25 places. We couldn't believe it, it's the best feeling you can have at the end of the day. Using a hammer, we straightened out what we could, made some alignment adjustments, and called it a night early.
No crazy late alcohol fueled antics happened. At all. No three wheeled freebeer homebrew keg bicycles or king of the mountain matches or vespas crashing into tire walls or anything like that. Soggy completely behaved himself. Thankfully the next morning everything followed protocol. The second day of racing started pretty late, around 12:30 so we had time to mill around and snack, and watch as the kids from hyperfest occasionally roll past, looking for the nearest glowstick and DC Shoes retailer I assume.
The cars lined up and Mike was first out. We tend to have good luck on Sunday, and this was no different. No drama happened at all, and my sanity as captain was nearly all back (the hephalumps and woozles that were floating around on Friday seemed to be gone, for now). Unfortunately our Swedish car neighbors weren't so lucky. It looked like they had problems passing tech, they were welding on their cage on Friday. They also seemed to be having serious trouble keeping their engine inside the car (as far as I understand, blown up engine mounts) and missed green flag on Sunday. They ended up packing up and leaving before checkers came out, but got laps in. However our Swede car was running so well that the entire team decided to head up to the bridge and do some spectating.
When we got back to our pits, some panicked guys at the fuel pump with Russian accents (or similar?) ran over and kindly asked for a jump and to borrow a gas can for a second. As Lemoneers do, we oblidged and helped them with their final pit stop, and they gave us back our fuel jug with 4 gallons of fuel still in it. They told us we could keep it, and this is why we race. Well, among approx 700 other reasons. Anyway, an hour or two later they won our class.......bastards. #91 Team Not So Fresh Off The Boat, with a supercharged Olds 88, great job guys, glad to help.
If you can manage to pry your eyes away from that magnificent, albeit a bit bent, BBQ, you'll notice speedycop's gold Mercury Cougar. Judge Phil strapped a camera to the back of that car and we make a super cool appearance in it. Look for our headlights around 27min 30sec.
The Simca chugged along, albeit with more troubles than it's used to. Another ball joint failure disjointed much of the drivetrain (French) but those guys got it back together really fast and had it out most of the weekend. It had a radiator fail though, and some gears, and at the end of Sunday the failtruck dropped it off with about half an hour left. We tried to get it restarted using a variety of methods, including pouring a bag of ice on the top of the engine and carburetor.
. This has worked before, but no amount of weird LeMons home remedies could get this Fraunchie back on track to take the checkered flag.
We didn't win anything, but with a final score of 22nd place and 6th in class out of nearly 100 teams, we gotta be happy with a result like that. Over the weekend we accumulated a total of 346 laps, which accounts for over 11hrs of on track time. 11hrs! We bought this car for $400! After the teething issues of learning the track, crashing the car, nearly frying the wiring, and unknowingly been attacked by unseen deer barrages, everything went well. As usual, the EBC Bluestuffs and rotors gave absolutely zero problems. Just like Gingerman and Road America, all the drivers praised the brakes over everything else. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best setup there is for this race car, and EBC Bluestuff is going to stay on this car as long at it lives at CBQHQ. A lot of SAAB guys have mentioned to me that I should upgrade to 9000 Aero brake calipers, but I always thought it was totally unnecessary. Apparently they add a bunch of unsprung weight, so keep that in mind if you SAABies are planning on doing an upgrade. Try some better brake pads and rotors first. Well, now that I think about it, we did win something. Some awesome race finishing ribs.
Thanks for everyone that came out, supported us, and helped the Carbecarnival (thats a stretch, sorry) on the road and on the track. Independent Auto Craft, inc. supplied us with some parts off of their extensive inventory that allowed the car to be completed on time. If not for Tom over there in Crystal Lake, IL, we'd have been in some hot water come time to load up. Thanks to EBC for keeping the braking system on the car safe and performing well, and especially eEuroparts.com for sending Matt and Jordan to help out with both the BBQ party and logistics AND the solid driving Jordan provided (and fast lap of 1.54.886 on Sunday). We don't have any plans for another race this summer, but rumors around the HQ have been spreading that the Q may come back to Road America in November. The fact that they even scheduled a race in central Wisconsin in November is kind of absurd, and so is the thought of signing up for one, but with what is sure to be a sparse field and full tank fuel stints, we could win. And that would be fantastic. Bye for now, keep the rusty side down!