2019 Lemons Alabama: The Winners!

Over the last five years, the ‘Shine Country Classic has become a favorite date on 24 Hours of Lemons’ calendar. Not only does the finely manicured grounds of Barber Motorsports Park host our beloved hoopties, the track may also be one of the most fun we visit annually. Further, Lemons’ Southern crowd tend to draw utterly fabulous cars. Without further adieu, here are your winners from the 2019 ‘Shine Country Classic at Barber Motorsports Park.

Overall Winner – LemonAid Racing, BMW E30

At the beginning of the race, the Lemons Supreme Court handed out five laps to LemonAid Racing’s BMW E30, Done Racing Racing’s “AMC AMX,” and Save the Ta-Tas’ “Cadillac Seville Coupe.” The latter both feature body swaps on a BMW Z3 and a 1984 Chevy Camaro, respectively. Ultimately, LemonAid’s E30 prevailed by just 51 seconds for their seventh win as a team and the sixth with their E30.

The second-place car, back-to-back winners Burp Racing, began with four penalty laps as a friendly handicap against the field. Maybe there’s some kind of science to this, because that 5-versus-4 penalty laps gave a good fantastically close race in the final hour. Ultimately, the top three finishers all started with penalty laps and raced hard against each other.

Class B Winner – Surrealtime Racing, Honda Civic

As usual, Class B pitted a couple of unlikely competitors against each other in another race that went back and forth all weekend. Surrealtime’s Civic has always been a reasonably competitive car and despite a late flat tire, they held on for a narrow win by a single lap. Like most Class B winners, they picked up no black flags and ran quick-but-not-too-quick laps all weekend. If you want to win Class B, it often helps to be nearly invisible.

Silent But Deadly’s Fox Body Ford Thunderbird made a good run for the Class B win and even looked pretty quick at times, but a couple of black flags cost a class win for the car. How weird and varied is Class B? The competitors in  positions 3 to 9 were a Nissan Maxima, Acura Integra, BMW E12, Volkswagen Golf, Porsche 944, a Ford Mustang, and a BMW E28.

Class C Winner – Knoxvegas Lowballers, Triumph TR8

It really turns out that you can always find someone to race within Lemons, though it might not be exactly who you expect. The Class C battle also turned into a helluva race between three totally unalike hoopties. In Lemons’ slowest class, Knoxvegas Lowballers’ Triumph TR8 hung on for a narrow three-lap win. That came just a month and a half after winning the Index of Effluency trophy at Road Atlanta, so the teal ‘80 Triumph is on as much of a success wave as any TR8 has ever had.

Second and third places in the class also finished on the same lap. Three cars within three laps almost never happens in Class C and here’s what makes it awesome: a Triumph TR8 beat out Escape Velocity Racing’s six-cylinder Dodge Dart and RetroRacing’s Volkswagen Beetle. That’s some Real Racing™ right there.

Heroic Fix – Old Dude, Ford Ranchero

You’d think the Old Dudes would have everything sewn up and figured out by now on their Falcon-based Ranchero. They tend to use decent speed parts, but every time, the ol’ Ranchero reminds them that it’s still built on finicky 1960s technology. Dang if it doesn’t look utterly fantastic, though.

This time around, the Old Dudes had the engine in and out, built and rebuilt, about three times during the week lead-up to the race. Naturally, it gave up for good after seven laps. They grabbed their spare engine, a 289 from a Mustang, and swapped it in just a couple of hours to get back on track.

Honorable Mention for Heroic Fix – Cuzzin’ Racing, Volkswagen Cabrio

The Cuzzin’ Racing crew deserve a Heroic Fix shoutout, as well. After their little VW got collected by someone else spinning their car, the Cabrio looked a little worse for the wear. This car has raced tons of times over the years with a handful of times, so we were afraid it might be the poor little Cabrio’s end.

The team had other ideas, however, and they set to work with tow straps and a couple of trucks. Within a couple of hours and a few pulls, they’d yanked it roughly back in Volkswagen shape. The alignment might have skewed a bit, but with a few more hammer blows, they had it good enough for Lemons.

I Got Screwed – Mock Grass Racing

We’ve made no bones about our endorsement of Korean cars in Lemons and, generally speaking, the little econobox ones have done pretty well. However, when they go wrong, they tend to go really wrong. Mock Grass Racing’s Kia Sephia has run tons of races and cycled through dozens of Lemons rookies. So it seemed likely that it was sorted and when it came clattering into the paddock during the Saturday race session, maybe it was fixable. The carrier bearing had gone bad, but one team member piped up to say he could make a new one out of what was laying around.

Amazingly, the handmade carrier bearing fared well…until the car ground to a halt a second time. The team poked around and found what they thought was a socket atop the starter motor. It was only when they picked it up that they realized it was actually a wrist pin for the connecting rod that escaped from a hole in the engine block.

The team set to work throwing the junkyard-sourced backup engine into the car. As luck would have it, that engine also expired with a vacating connecting rod. They sure tried, but Screwed!

Lemons Ruins Another Christmas – IWGF Racing, Ford Probe and Mazda MX-6

Not many teams travel 2,500 miles to race Lemons, but this Washington-based family team decided to try their luck in Alabama as a Christmas present to share. That’s a nice reminder that not all Lemons racers are the shame of their families; sometimes the whole family is the right kind of shameful. Anyway, unable to take the time to tow the cars, however, they planned to prepare them for the race and then ship them to Birmingham.

We say “cars” (plural) because in addition to the Ford Probe, they opted to bring a freshly built Mazda MX-6, the Probe’s platform-sharing cousin. Unfortunately, the MX-6 was not nearly done before they had to ship it, so they spent most of the weekend trying to finish it up, only to get seven laps and finish next-to-dead-effing last.

It wasn’t a total Chrismas loss for the team, however, as the Probe ran well enough to get a full weekend of seat time for the team. For their geographic dedication, IWGF Racing took home the event-specific “Lemons Ruins Another Christmas” trophy.

Judges Choice – Dodgie Racing, Dodge Daytona

When the Lemons Supreme Court first met this team at Barber in 2017, they knew virtually nothing about Turbo Mopars. However, they were excited for their Shelby Daytona and couldn’t quite figure out why we told them to expect a long weekend. That race ended predictably with a nuked turbocharged engine and 60 laps total. Like many Lemons teams, they took their time getting the car put back together and showed up two years later with a good attitude and some pretty tempered expectations.

The bad news is they sheared off all the lug studs, broke the shift linkage (Pro Tip: You can road race with only odd-numbered gears), and had the steering rack come loose mid-corner. The good news is that the engine held together without issue and all of that stuff can be fixed up for next year’s ‘Shine Country Classic. Because they brought exactly the kind of terrible car we like to see in Lemons, Dodgie Racing took home the Judges Choice.

Organizer’s Choice – The D-Team, Chevrolet Corvette

Yeah, it’s a Corvette and no, it’s not worth more than $500. If you saw, heard, or smelled it in person, you’d get it. Here’s the full scoop on this supremely ratty C4 Corvette.

Index of Effluency – Slant Six, Plymouth Valiant

Few teams have put Chrysler’s Leaning Tower of Power to such good use. You may remember the E30/6, a BMW 3-Series with a 225 cubic-inch Chrysler inline-six. This perfectly patina’d ‘64 Valiant comes from the same sick minds and the car’s owner, Jason Ernst, has become renowned as one of Lemons’ real good guys. At Road Atlanta in 2017, he loaned the car out to teams who have needed an emergency car after failing tech and helped them run the car.

This time around, the old Mopar ran perfectly well for an hour. After that, the clutch wouldn’t disengage for whatever reason. That left the team having to start the car in gear (not generally recommended) and then bangshift the manual to fourth gear, where it would stay. It wasn’t the slowest car on the track—it set a quicker lap time than the aforementioned Corvette—and it beat dozens of teams with a single gear on track and no clutch. That’s Index of Effluency territory in our book. Well done, Slant Six!

The 24 Hours of Lemons returns to action this weekend at Inde Motorsports Ranch in Willcox, Arizona, for the Arizona D-Bags race. Get the full schedule details here, including the upcoming HooptieCon West event on March 9 at Sonoma Raceway.