Topic: Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws - March 2012 CMP Race Summary
Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws - March 2012 CMP Race Summary
“…And the winner of Organizer’s Choice is---Speedycop’s trailer!”
Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong WILL go wrong. No matter how many LeMons races we do, or how many months we spend preparing, we’re always a day short. On paper it seems simple, and you’d think that after more than 20 such races, we could avoid this, but I’m always deciding to build new cars, and things rarely go as planned. This weekend was no different. Still, even though the Galaxie had some issues, and the Pacer didn’t hit the track until almost an hour into the race, we managed to get them and the Lancia through tech. Once on the track, two of the three ran pretty much all weekend, and all of our drivers got to race. That’s a win in my book! There were some highlights, and some lowlights---pretty much on par for a LeMons weekend. We had a fantastic group of arrive-and-drives. No attitudes, no know-it-alls, no whiners, and only one crash, and that was not the fault of our driver, which the video will prove once it’s up on youtube. The real highlight, though, was the new (used) race trailer.
How can a trailer be the highlight of a race weekend? Flash back to last year. Every race car we fielded needed its own race trailer. Our primary trailer was my 24’ enclosed, which could hold one car and the tools. Additional cars required additional trucks and open trailers, and that required additional drivers on long trips, and lots more fuel. My plan was to simplify the towing situation, while at the same time creating a mobile party spot and oversized garage on wheels. That meant a bigger tow vehicle. My ’06 F250 needed some work, and rather than sink money into a truck that was incredibly uncomfortable on long trips (extended cab with tiny rear bench), I traded it in on a ridiculously expensive 2012 Ford F450 4x4 crew cab dually. Sure, they knocked off almost ten grand off the sticker (I drive a hard bargain), and sure, I got a decent amount for my trade, even after being honest about the issue, but still, I’m gonna be swimming in truck debt for the next six years.
Now that I had a tow vehicle with 400 HP and 800 ft/lbs. of torque, rated to tow a staggering 24,400 pounds, I needed a bigger trailer. I searched online, looking at open trailers, wedge trailers, and enclosed trailers, as far away as Florida and Texas. Searching Craiglist revealed a decent 2000 Jensen 53 foot gooseneck enclosed trailer in North Carolina for a measly nine grand. One minor catch: I could only swing a thousand bucks in cash at the time. Luckily my old trailer was worth about five grand, and I had a Mustang worth about three more I was selling. I sent pics to the guy, and he agreed to make the trades. He delivered my monstrous new trailer, took the grand, picked up my old trailer with the Mustang inside it, and headed back to NC. Now that I had a tow vehicle AND a gigantic enclosed, we set about revamping it.
Bare, dirty, stained-up plywood walls and floor just wasn’t gonna cut it for my dream hauler. It needed lighting, and electrical outlets, and pizzazz. Doug jokingly suggested that we use the 45’ floor to bowl at the track. Naturally, the big kid in me loved that idea! I decided it also needed surround sound, and black lights, and a disco ball. After all, evenings at the track are for partying, or so I’ve heard (we’re usually wrenching all night). Still, one can dream, right? Fortunately for me, my neighbor Don is between jobs. He offered to do the bulk of the remodeling for $20/hour, and as I simply didn’t have time between the cars and work, I agreed. Doug and I helped him as much as we could, but Don gets the credit for this transformation.
I wish I could say we did it on the cheap. We did it about as cheaply as it could be done, but it still cost thousands of dollars. To pay for it, I sold the ’97 Fleetwood Tioga we’d been using as a tow vehicle and track camper. One less money pit around is a good thing, and I put a bed in the front of the new trailer, on the 8’ shelf. Now that I had a trailer capable of carry WELL over the 10k weight limit for non-CDL-licensed drivers, I needed a CDL to tow it legally. Doug and I both got our CDL learner’s permits, so that there would be more than one semi-legal (bad pun intended) driver on the CMP trip. The day before we left, the black lights and fog machine that Cousin Dave (“Caddywrecker”) ordered from Amazon showed up. Don installed those as well, and when the unfinished Pacer and Galaxie were loaded up Thursday night, we knew that at least we’d have a place to party out of the forecasted heavy rains.
The drive down was smooth. We left a mere 5 ½ hours later than planned, which is actually early compared to our normal departure delays. The 29,000+ lb. rig (I had it weighed at a truck stop) managed a terrific 10.2 mpg average at 64 mph (2k RPM in sixth gear) on the 9 hour drive. It towed so smoothly, with the cruise set you could easily forget the trailer was there! Once at the track, Nick Pon came over to see the new monstrosity, and snapped this pic for Car & Driver’s blog:
The arrive-and-drives pitched in with the remaining work to be done on the Pacer and Galaxie. Luckily the Lancia didn’t need anything significant---Tom did a great job of prepping it with new brakes and tires, and an alignment. The skies grew dark and threatened to rain all afternoon, but it held off until nightfall. Saturday morning rolled around, the green flagged dropped, and the Lancia started cranking out laps. It was still raining, and that car hates the wet, so they were slow laps, but it was circulating. The Pacer finally passed tech shortly after the green dropped, and I headed out on the track, putting the first miles on the car since it was parked in 1990! It handled terribly, the oversized Galaxie spare tires had no grip in the wet, and it had no power, yet somehow it still managed to get loose fairly often. Bad handling plus lousy grip in the rain plus no wipers (wiper motor was rusted solid) plus new brakes that had not been seated yet made for an AWESOME time! I was grinning from ear to ear when I got back to the pits about 20 minutes later. The Galaxie was being a bitch and refusing to stay running in gear, thanks to a cheap used take-off Holley carb. Stupid $500 car limit, making racing affordable for brokedick slaps like us… *grumbles*
Eventually, one of the guys driving the Galaxie (we’ll call him “Steve”, mostly because that’s his name) called in his mechanic buddy Randy, who knew a lot more than I did about tuning carbs. Randy fiddled with it for a couple of hours, and got it running well enough to race. It hit the track, and proved to be pretty damn quick for a 47 year-old barge. It still had issues, and got towed/pushed in more than once, but at least it was turning laps, and it handled great. Once the track dried out Saturday afternoon, the Lancia got really fast. I did the last hour of the day Saturday in it, and it was dialed in well enough for me to go 2:02 on the full course while driving smoothly. The Pacer astounded us all. 22 years of hibernation had killed the rear main seal, something we only discovered last week. We spent two days of the week leading up to the race yanking the old 258 straight six, pulling the trans and oil pan, dropping the crank, and changing the two-piece seal. The fix worked; we had no discernable leaks, and only used one quart of oil all weekend! Here’s some team shots from the weekend:
Her Judgeliness “Doctawife” MB in the Pacer:
None of these small victories compared to the epic win of “Club Speedy”, the 53’ trailer. It was a smashing success! We had a crowd on Friday and Saturday nights, hanging out in our “nightclub”, and doing some midnight bowling. With the lights out, the blacklights on, the strobe going, the fog machine making the pins disappear at times, the disco ball spinning, and the surround sound pumping, it was easy to forget we were at a racetrack. We drew a crowd, and people took turns trying their hand at trailer bowling. The crescendo reverberated throughout the trailer, and you could have heard the unmistakable sound of a strike all the way across the paddock to the main gate, even if the resultant cheers had ceased. Jay Lamm stepped up and threw a strike, and Nick Pon followed him with a spare. I guess those guys have nothing better to do with the tens of dollars they are raking in from us poor saps each year than to spend it on bowling. Our “Pin Girls” were pretty fugly to be honest, and they closely resembled the male members of the team, even after consuming plenty of moonshine, and extra heavy use of the fog machine. We need some better looking pin girls for sure.
Special thanks go out to my whole crew; NONE of this is possible without you! I’m certain to omit many names here, but special thanks go out to a few:
Ron, thanks for hauling the camper down, and cooking those delicious meals and fried treats!
Doug, David, Joe, Joey, and Chadd, thanks for all those late nights working on the cars before we left!
Joes, thanks for hauling the Cougar down “just in case”.
Mara, Caitie, Kim, and Haley, thanks for making it not all dudes in our paddock!
Tom, thanks for spending your tax return to get the Lancia new brakes and tires. Nice job!
Dave Morrow, thanks for the bestest chili ever in the history of racing. At one point I went back for more, and got down on my knees and begged for another helping! I was calling it “Manna from Heaven”, it was so tasty, and I was so hungry. Thanks also for the awesome shirt, and the kickass comic book about your cars.
Bob, thanks for bringing me food when I hadn’t stopped all day to eat, and was ready to pass out.
Tyler, thanks for the inflatable skank/copilot, and for the kickass tires for the Cougar. The vets that race that thing in June will REALLY appreciate the added grip from those Star Specs!
David C and Bryan D, thanks for bringing projectors and video gear, even though we didn’t use it. We’ll have to do that next time.
Guys who brought me the trailer graphics, identify yourselves again, so I can thank you properly! The Club Speedy graphic looks great on the door, and the giant LeMons disco logos in reflective vinyl are absolutely amazing! I was hoping you’d come back when we had time to put them on. I’ll get them on and get pictures, and we can talk about ordering the rest of the vinyl.
Thanks to the other teams who loaned us stuff, brought us food and T-shirts, gave us encouragement, lent a hand, and kept the party going in our paddock space for half the night. You guys made all the sweat and all the money put into the trailer worthwhile. I was thrilled to see it used and enjoyed.
Thanks to all my arrive-and-drives for not wadding up or blowing up the cars, and for all the help.
Thanks especially to Jay, Nick, Jeff, Mary Elizabeth, Kim, Brett, and the whole LeMons/CMP gang for a great event, and for the Organizer’s Choice award for the bowling alley trailer. We were beyond thrilled to win that, once we realized Dave Morrow’s team had easily sown up the IOE bid, and the Pacer didn’t stand a chance. Dunno yet if we’ll run it again, or if a certain gentleman in Colorado (not Phil) will make me an offer I can’t refuse, so that he can run it there. Congrats to Morrows Auto on a well-deserved and long-overdue IOE! ‘Grats to NSF on getting screwed. There’s only two ways you actually wanna get screwed, winning the I Got Screwed award in LeMons, and the other way. Crazy how the Pavlovian conditioning by our LeMons overlords is so complete, we get all excited at getting a piece of old car tire with some screws in it, and having Jay tell us we’ve won at losing!
See you all in Jersey.
I’ll bring the bowling alley.
Future Fleet: 1957 Ford Prefect 1942 Buick 1959 Bugeye Project GLCOAT