The 24 Hours of Lemons has raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 10 times since 2011. With race-entry deadline looming for our 11th race at NHMS, we decided to recap all of the Index of Effluency winners from our first 10 races at the track. It’s a good mix of everything, including two cars on the Greatest Lemons Cars of All Time list.
The first NHMS race was held in the spring instead of its current October date. In that race, the IOE came down to an epic fight between the all-white ‘85 Chevette and a Geo Storm with an automatic transmission. That’s the kind of power struggle that was tailor-made for the GM Board Room. Anyway, the Chevette finished five laps ahead of the Storm with the cars finishing 26th and 27th of 54 cars, respectively.
Neither car won Class C at that race, however. That honor went instead to the Volkswagen Golf campaigned under one of the greatest Lemons team name of all time: Team Rob, His Two Loser Friends, and His Idiot Brother. Nevertheless, the Chevette team would finish 6th place overall to win Class C in their next race.
Lemons Legend Speedycop assembled this marvelous machine with his Gang of Outlaws in 2012. The self-propelled pop-up camper was utterly magnificent on the racetrack. A Suzuki X-90 sat at its center with the camper’s body panels mounted to the little two-seat off-roader. The hitch and propane tank were fakes, also, so as not to spear or maim anyone in case of an accident.
But video really tells the story.
Datsuns can run the gamut in Lemons. Some can run with the quickest cars in a given race, while others languish like they are, well, 45-year-old cars with small engines. The Dirty Penny Datsun falls into the latter category. Their Datsun 210 was the fourth-slowest car in a field of 117 cars at the second Lemons NHMS race in 2012, yet they beat almost half of them. “In Rust We Trust,” indeed, because that’s all that holds their heap together.
The collective of horrible hooptieness known as 3 Pedal Mafia swept both IOEs at NHMS in 2013. The first came when they finished 17th place overall in their Triumph TR7, which is still the highest-ever finish by a Triumph in Lemons. That won them Class C with second place going to The Boat (which was a boat so it’s not just a clever name). Like most Triumph racers, 3PM ditched the stock engine, this time in favor of GM’s sonorous 3.8-liter V6.
For their next trick, 3PM assembled the maintenance nightmare that was a 1969 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow in brown over brown. The Roller was the absolute slowest car in the field and quite possibly the slowest car ever in Lemons. The team kept it to one side of the track for the whole weekend, letting the field blow past it at a rate of almost two laps to one for the entire weekend. Still, the Silver Shadow ran all weekend and beat 20 teams.
What’s in a name? Futility Motorsports’ progenitors fought this car tooth and nail for four years just to make the turbocharged Chrysler engine live for an entire race. That included two very well-earned I Got Screwed awards. While most people would have given up on what has proven itself in Lemons one of the least-reliable engine setups, Futility stuck with it long enough to win an IOE when it finally lasted. They made two more good attempts at a Class C win before finally tossing in the towel and switching to an oddly reliable Saab 9-5 Wagon.
The Lemontarians have cultivated a reputation as Lemons racers out to have some serious fun. Their pit-vehicle setups are the stuff of legends and while their original vehicles were a bit mundane (Dodge Neon, Honda Prelude), they upped their game with the Citation. It turns out that the married couple on the team had an X-11 when they wed, so they dug this old club-racing car out of the New England woods and brought it racing. Considering the Citation is one of the absolute worst cars built in the last 40 years, their top-half finish merited the IOE win.
Was it designed by Isuzu for Opel and sold by Buick? Or designed by Opel and rebadged as an Isuzu too and sold by Buick? Maybe Buick commissioned them? Who knows…all we know is that the Great Globs of Oil Buick/Opel/Isuzu (Buopuzu?) has overachieved for a mid-1970s coupe.
It’s a pretty rare non-diesel Mercedes that ends up in Class C, let alone takes home the Index of Effluency. However, the depths of this team’s hopelessness from the outset suggested to the Lemons Supreme Court that they would struggle to find their paddock space after BS Inspection, let alone get on the racetrack. One could debate their success at the latter, but beating anyone with hopeless organization and the third-slowest car of the weekend? That was good enough for Index of Effluency in the eyes of Lemons judges at NHMS.
By now, you’ve probably started seeing a pattern: Very slow car beats many quicker cars. And this is no exception. Top Off Racing’s diesel Volkswagen was the absolute slowest car at the last NHMS race in October 2018, but they parked it in 67th place ahead of almost 50 cars. Further, you may know that the Cabrio was never sold with a diesel engine. Indeed, the team deliberately swapped in the 52-horsepower version of VW’s diesel engine. Making your car slower intentionally? That goes a long way in IOE consideration.
Maybe you’ve got a Daewoo Lanos that needs a Viking funeral. Maybe you’ve perused our Wish Lists and are elbow-deep in a car we’re dying to see. Or maybe you just want to race at the same place as NASCAR for some reason. Whatever the case, you can get information right here for Halloween Hooptiefest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on October 19-20. Sign up by this Saturday (August 24).