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
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!