10 Years Later: Freezing in South Carolina, 2010

By: Judge Phil "Murilee Martin, The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla" Greden. Photo Credits: Nick Pon, Phil Greden
February 5, 2020

We’ve been racing at one of our favorite tracks, Carolina Motorsports Park in South Carolina, since the earliest days of the series; the ninth-ever 24 Hours of Lemons race took place at CMP in July of 2008. We were idiots to race hooptie cars in sweltering South Carolina in midsummer, of course, and so our 2009 CMP races took place in April and September. Those races went so well that Chief Perp Jay Lamm, no doubt recalling idyllic champagne brunches and Southern nights free as a breeze, decided that we’d have three races at CMP in 2010, with the first one in early February, exactly a decade ago today. Here’s what happened.


We’ve done colder races than the first one to get the Southern Discomfort name, sure— the 2015 North Dallas Hooptie was the worst— but the ’10 Southern Discomfort featured a misery-enhancing combination of high-20s temperatures, stinging sleet-enhanced rain, icy mud everywhere, and plenty of wind to make engine swaps a numb-fingered nightmare. The California-based organizers failed to dress properly, of course, and spent the weekend rocking Homeless Choice™ brand borrowed layers.


This being the Deep South, many teams were generous with gifts of homemade spirits to the judges. Some of the jars tasted (slightly) less like nail-polish remover than others, and we think at least a few were not distilled in Vitamin Pb-enhanced old car radiators.


Just the thing to warm up after a long day working the Penalty Box… and to acquire a case of the Jake Leg to boot!


Back before Speedycop had nailed down his status as one of the original Legends of Lemons, his Police Brutality team began its Lemons career with a Lincoln Mark VIII at the 2009 South Spring race. By the time we got to the 2010 Southern Discomfort, that car had been hacked apart in a lunatic body-lightening process (that would never pass a Lemons tech inspection today) and upgraded with a 5-speed manual transmission swap, and it was pretty quick. Of course, Speedycop had discovered the joys of racing even more ridiculous cars in the meantime, and the Lincoln faded away soon after this race. However, this monster managed to get around the CMP course as quickly as the top contenders at this race, letting the Lemons world know that the Speedycop drivers knew what they were doing.


Another destined-for-Lemons-greatness team, the Tunachuckers, brought their Volvo Amazon for some Southern Discomfort action. You’d think that a car from frigid Sweden would thrive at a cold road race, but the Amazon’s oil drain plug fell out on Lap Numero Uno, resulting in an unfortunate oil-dump incident followed by spun rod bearings and a DFL finish.


Did that stop the Tunachuckers from enjoying their race weekend? It did not! They went on to make tasty chili in the valve cover from their stricken engine and won the sort-of-official Chili Cookoff prize for the weekend.


Remember that time you got arm-twisted by your Significant Other into teaching some bratty adolescent relative how to drive a car with a manual transmission? Of course you do, and the wise and fair judges of the Lemons Supreme Court (in this case, yours truly plus some guy over at Motor Trend) decided to punish a couple of black-flaggy teams by making them relive those three-pedal-instruction-under-duress good times by teaching a young HQ staffer the stick-shift ropes… using their race cars. Granted, Chantelle was neither bratty nor adolescent and she was game about the whole thing, but she had never even considered driving a manual car prior to this race weekend.


Naturally, Chantelle’s first experience driving a stick-shift car in traffic happened on a hot race track while wearing full Nomex (this after maybe five minuntes of putting around the paddock at 15 mph), and she did better than a lot of so-called experienced racers. Maybe we should open up a driver-training school at our races!


Races back in the days prior to the four-black-flags-and-we-park-your-bad-driving-team modern era tended to be on the crashy side, especially with all the ice on the course, so the Penalty Box stayed busy all weekend long. Southern racers are way more good-natured than those in certain other regions (i.e., everywhere outside of the Midwest and Colorado), so we didn’t get too many screaming meltdowns after the removal of miscreant drivers’ yellow wristbands. Hey, look, it’s an Opel T-boning a spun-out Miata— you don’t see that every day!


Memories of the frozen-marrow chill of this race remained strong, so we’ve done all our CMP races in the spring and fall since the ’10 Discomfort.


We hope to see y’all at the 2020 Southern Discomfort, held on the last weekend of April.

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