Lemons’ oldest annual race, so to speak, has been its late-year Arse-Freeze-Apalooza in California. The race name dates back to Lemons’ first visit to Thunderhill Raceway Park on December 29-30, 2007. In 2009, the third Arse-Freeze again visited Thunderhill on November 21-22. Considering that was 10 years ago today, let’s take a very brief look back at that race, which featured some amazing Lemons moments.
The Purple Lemons Volkswagen Beetle took home top honors, the Index of Effluency. Enthusiasts need little effort in finding an air-cooled Beetle in California, although they should expect little in the way of racing performance. Indeed, Purple Lemons was the second-slowest car to turn more than a token few laps, yet they finished 65th place overall.
The Guud Humor Ford Ranger (top) took home Class honors in 44th place overall, two laps ahead of the Dust and Debris Dodge Shadow. In Class B (bottom), the Hurling Moss BMW 2002 managed the class win with an impressive 7th place overall finish. Next closest? That was the Italian Stallions’ Fiat X1/9, which came in 18 laps behind.
Pandamonium Racing’s BMW E30 won the final 2009 race by three laps over Eyesore Racing’s turbocharged Miata. Their next four in Lemons found them unable to finish better than 27th. Sometimes, everything just goes right.
Speaking of Eyesore Racing, the team made their ghettocharged internet darling into the Batmobile for this race. They dressed up in the full regalia of Batman sidekicks and villains for good measure, which earned them the Organizer’s Choice. This was the iteration of the car with the absurdly tall plumbing for the turbo from a Mexican-market Dodge Shadow.
Later on, Eyesore Racing driver and MotoIQ writer Dave Coleman would drive the Angry Hamster Z600. It was an intense experience once it was rebuilt, although the first iteration of the car—which debuted at this race—suffered a bit with its Honda Magna V4 drivetrain. The bike engine resided in the tiny car’s former passenger seat, which made its engine failure…exciting. The team earned the old Dangerous Banned Technology trophy for it. It continued to race for years until Lemons’ minimium-wheelbase rules outlawed the Angry Hamster.
The 1UP Nissan Sentra team brought a really good Super Mario Brothers theme with many iconic Mario items affixed to the car. That earned them the Judges Choice. It remains probably the best Nintendo-themed car ever in Lemons. Yes, that is a challenge.
The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys also brought their Peugeot 505 to Thunderhill. With their (frankly unbelievable) 24th-place finish, they brought home the ol’ Grassroots Motorsports Magazine Most from the Least award.
Pendejo Engineering were staples of early Lemons, famously running a V12 Jaguar that they called the “Two-Ton Miata.” The Pendejo fellows stuck to a V12 for Arse-Freeze-Apalooza, but this time it was a V12 Mercedes S600 that had been seized as part of a drug raid involving a Paraguayan diplomat. That’s a hell of a backstory, by the way, and if you as a Lemons racer ever are presented with the opportunity for something of that nature, don’t worry too much about Penalty Laps unless it’s a Porsche 911 or something.
Anyway, as expected, the complicated and overbuilt S600 gave the team electrical fits and then fried a head gasket. They replaced the head gasket—only a 19,000-step process—at the track. They grew so sick of the hulking monster that they begged Chief Perp Jay Lamm to exercise Lemons’ claiming rule so they would simply never have to see it again. For the first time—it’s only ever happened one other time—Jay claimed the car and gave it to a friend looking for an oddball hot rod engine. For their troubles and solution, The Pendejo/Diplomatic Immunity team took home both the Heroic Fix and I Got Screwed trophies.
The trophies only cover a small part of the action, as with any Lemons race. The Killer Bees MGB began its path to rechristening as the Killer ZomBee with its spectacular rollover. Chris Owens nabbed the famous mid-tumble photo, which you can see here. The car’s owner, Pete Peterson, would spend a few months rebuilding it and the ZomBee still toodles around mountain roads and the occasional Lemons race today.
One of Lemons’ few Renault Alliances ever, the F-ING Renault Fromage Racing Team, limped to an impressive 131st place finish.
Faster Farms’ Plymouth Belvedere still looked kind of clean at the time. Kind of.
The only Daihatsu in Lemons history, Team Dai Hard’s Charade, debuted in Lemons. They finished 95th, which means that more than 55 teams got beaten by a lowly econobox that you probably didn’t even know was sold in the United States.
Team Petty Cash debuted Lemons’ first Jeep Cherokee. We now know that the Cherokee actually makes for a surprisingly good endurance-racing platform, but the TPC Jeep with a 4.0-liter Jeep engine and an automatic finished 63rd. The Petty Cash guys eventually developed the Cherokee into an animal of a vehicle capable of Top 5 finishes.
The Gimp Pimp Cadillac STS debuted with hand controls. That was super cool, especially since it was a Caddy. If you’re gonna race, do it in style.
One of the more obscure pieces of Lemons history also came from long-time Lemons racers Hit & Run Racing. They’ve run a couple of V8-swapped Mazda RX-7s over the years in Lemons. For this race, however, they briefly attempted to run a Mitsubishi Starion as a second car alongside their (at the time) BMW. It finished mid-pack and would race one more time in March 2010 before they gave up on it.
As always, every team at the 2009 Arse-Freeze-Apalooza has countless stories to tell. We’d love to cover them all, but time is short. You can see more visual storytelling in Judge Phil’s photo gallery for the race. And of course, come check out the 2019 edition of Arse-Freeze-Apalooza on December 6-8 at Sonoma Raceway.