Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week: Delinquent Racing’s 1996 Ford Taurus SHO

We return to the Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week series (go here for the older HSLCOTW posts) with one of the few surviving race cars whose history goes all the way back to the earliest days of the series, when cars swapped paint and teams performed unsafe repairs at the hallowed site of the infamous Altamont Free Concert: the Delinquent Racing 1996 Ford Taurus SHO.

Plenty of 1989-1995 Taurus SHOs have competed in the series, and the few that haven’t exploded in dramatic fashion have been pretty quick on our tracks. Those cars had screaming Yamaha-headed V6 engines and manual transmissions, however, and Ford went to a V8/automatic-only regime for the 1996-1999 cars. More torque, more weight, just two pedals… and that’s what Delinquent Racing chose for their race car, which debuted at the 2008 Altamont race.

The school-bus-themed Taurus, dragging a mannequin from the rear bumper, finished a solid 30th place in the 88-entry field at that race. It wasn’t particularly quick, but it didn’t throw any rods, break any axles, or explode any transmissions. Most V6 Taurus teams do at least one of those things per race, and some do all three.

Delinquent Racing returned to the fray in December of 2008, bringing their car to the second annual Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at Thunderhill Raceway. They’d updated from school-bus livery to a distinctive-even-at-a-distance skunk theme, complete with big fluffy tail. Painted on the rear bumper: If you’re behind us, you stink! The Lemons Supreme Court judges weren’t as knowledgeable then as they are now (when it comes to distinguishing the difference between cheating and effective cheating) and so they hammered this car with many penalty laps for reeking of Cheatonium-239. The team finished DFL and took home the MEGA CHEATER trophy for their troubles at that race.

The Skunk SHO continued to compete in West Coast Lemons races for year after year after that. Then, at the 2014 Arse Freeze, disaster struck: an engine fire consumed the front of the car, melting all sorts of important components and getting the Sonoma (then Infineon, but always Sears Point in our hearts) Raceway rescue crews all excited.

Delinquent Racing bounced back from that disaster, though it took a while for the Skunk to return to racing action. We next saw it at the 2017 Vodden the Hell Are We Doing race at Thunderhill.

After the 2014 fire, Delinquent Racing opted for one of the only fast Fords known to be less reliable than a V8 SHO: a Merkur XR4Ti. Starting in 2017, the team went to a TRUMPACO theme, complete with presidential costumes.

The Delinquent Racing drivers liked their Merkur so much that they sold the SHO to another team. We should see it back on a Lemons track in California, later this year.