Topic: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

So, I wanna go racing.  I actually got the score of the century and got a ride at CMP back in September with a couple of great guys in a great car (Volvo 240).  It was everything I've ever wanted to do in life, so, naturally, I'm looking to do some more.  Being me, I am attempting to make the unwise decision of purchasing a racecar, in the wisest manner possible.  I've done a lot (probably too much) reading around here, and the general consensus seems to be that, if you're not a great mechanic, have little to no fabrication skills, and mostly are just looking to go racing and have a good time, Buy a prepped car someone else is selling

In my pursuit to not be a total idiot about this, I did some digging to try and find out what to look for.  Somehow, I have made it thus far in my life without actually purchasing a racecar, so I'm a bit green.  Unfortunately, my search didn't turn up much, so I pose the question: What are the things I should look out for?  I mean, basically just like buying any used car, but try and determine if the cage was done according to the rule?  (Please feel free to link to the detailed post going over all of this that I missed because I have the misfortune of not only being a useless millennial, but a useless millennial who can't even use a computer correctly)

There's also the issue of timing.  Am I an idiot for buying a car shortly before the 2020 rules come out (potentially with changes that would cause more people to want to unload their cars for cheap rather than upgrade to them)?  Putting aside all the other reasons I'm an idiot, of course.  Probably not that big of a deal?  I would rather go ahead and do it, because several of the races near me (Barber isn't that close, but it's close enough and I hear it's a great track) are early, and I know it's going to take some time to get everything sorted on the car, even if it's 'prepped'.  It seems quite often teams don't race the car and let them go a season or two before selling, so there's already known tech issues that need to be addressed just from rules updates, and things not wanting to work right from sitting, etc. 

So, what say you?  If you were tasked with purchasing a pre-raced car, especially one that you are un-reasonably expecting to require minimal work to get going, what are you going to be looking for?

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

Like you have stated,the best option is to buy a car that has competed recently.
Teams sometime outgrow the car and want to get rid of it to fund an even more obscure build.
My team is selling our Allante' because we have even more bizarre shit in the works.
We bought/built it to win the IOE(which it did) then went out for a ClassC win(which it did)so now it's time to go to a new home.

The rules packages don't really change much from year to year,so you should be safe there.
You may find the deal of a lifetime out there.
Small fixes could be a good thing,tho....you can see how the car is built and get to know it a lil' bit.

40+x Loser.....You'd think I would learn......
5x I.O.E  Winner   1 Heroic Fix Winner   1 Org Choice Winner
2x  I Got Screwed Winner    2x Class C Winner
(Still a Class B driver in a Class A car)

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

A few notes:

If the car has not passed tech in the last two years at Lemons...consider passing on it.  If you really like it, take an experienced Lemons person with you before putting down money.  Since you are East of Barber and North of CMP, you have a number of teams around you but the one that is prolific in their hoopties pops to mind...Knoxvegas Lowballers.

Now until January is the best time to buy recently raced car.

The package is what you are buying...not just the car.  Spares are valuable.  Especially wheels, transmissions, engines, knuckles, etc.

Before you buy, seriously consider the total cost of being a car owner.  Where are you storing it?  How are you getting it to the track?  How are you getting the spares, fuel jugs (that is right, gonna need at least 4), tent/camper, canopy, food, etc, etc to the track?  Where are you going to work on the car when it is raining, you have to replace and engine, etc.

Try to get the most "stock" racecar you can with parts available at every Autozone at 7PM on Sunday.  If not stock, grill the prior owner for year, make, model of every part and write it down.

Make sure at least you FIT the car as built.  Take a helmet, any helmet, with you when you try it out.  Consider how wide a range of driver shapes it will fit since you don't have team yet.

Any car you consider...go to their enthusiast forum and find out how bad the common issues are.

When possible, buy a street legal, titled car.

Start deciding, before you get the car, what kind of team you want to be.  Three basic types with infinite variations:

1) We are here to race and tolerate the rest of this Lemons stuff (Real Racer tm)
2) We are here to race but not at the expense of the full Lemons experience (75% of the field)
3) We are here for the shenanigans and occasionally racing happens.  Also know as "Don't come in yet, we are eating hot dogs" (IoE wannabes or winners and Class C lovers)

4 (edited by VKZ24 2019-11-07 06:47 AM)

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

mthew_m wrote:

So, what say you?  If you were tasked with purchasing a pre-raced car, especially one that you are un-reasonably expecting to require minimal work to get going, what are you going to be looking for?

First let me say, there are people willing to help if you ask.  Put me and my teammates on that list.  We've been racing Lemons for over 10 years and thus have lots of experience in the do's and don'ts.  My shop is in Wilson, which is not far from you.  One of my teammate's also lives in Raleigh.  If you need a hand with fabrication or maybe looking at a potential candidate let me know and maybe we can help.  You can come to my shop, look over our car, ask questions, etc.

If you have read a lot here, you should already know that buying or building a car isn't really the biggest hurdle.  IMO assembling a team willing to put for the effort and fork over the $$$ needed is a main concern.  Do you have a team?  It's pretty hard to do this by yourself, not to mention the fun factor is raised when you have a group of buddies that share your passion.

Regarding the car, if you have little to no mechanical ability, you either need to find a teammate who has said ability, or buy a platform known to be very reliable.  I'm biased towards late 90's Hondas myself since that is what we have run for over 10 years.  Be sure whatever you buy uses OTS parts that can be found locally at any parts store or salvage yard.  You can also learn to work on car simply by having the NEED to do so.  That's kind of where my team started.   We learn as we go, which has been part of the fun.

If I can help, shoot me an e-mail at vkeenez24@gmail.com.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
'93 Acura Integra - No VTEC Yo!

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

Don't worry about the 2020 rule changes. Don't assume you are going to buy the car and just go racing without doing some work on it and spending some money. This is endurance racing and things wear out. There is more race time on a Lemons car in one race (assuming it actually ran for the whole race!) than an awful lot of SCCA or NASA cars get in a whole year.

Do check the front window for the tech sticker from the last race it ran. Most teams leave it on there until it is replaced at the next race. Do check for recent past years rule changes. Most costly that I can think of is the required fire suppression system.

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

Don't have too much to add to already good info posted, but in 2019 they added the fire system rule, so any older car will need that added, and that is like $400 itself, and they expire after 2 years, so even a 2019 car will need it replaced in 2021.  And belts expire after 2 years, though you can get cheaper ones, the better ones are more.   Older tires not too useful either, so don't count on using the ones it comes with if not raced recently, at least if you plan to race and not just go around until the party starts.

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

nimblemotorsports wrote:

And belts expire after 2 years...

The above is only true for SOME, not all belts.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
'93 Acura Integra - No VTEC Yo!

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

It's very easy.  Buy one with a legal cage and a good platform to build off of.  Like my 00 Firebird!!!  https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=38589

Team Glue Sticks
00 Firebird, 02 X-Type, 93 NX2000, 00 Mazda 626 (Sold)
2016 NJMP Heroic Fix, 2017 NJMP Near Heroic Fix except we can't drive, 2017 Thompson I Got Screwed, 2019 Pitt Heroic Fix

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

Lots of really useful information. 

-For fit, that's probably one of the more difficult ones.  Pretty much all of the cars that I've found are 5+ hours away, so I can't just pop-over and see if I fit in them.  I'm not too far off of the bell curve, but at 6'3", it's definitely something I have to consider.  I guess I just have to hope someone of a similar size has raced in the car, and the seller tells me the truth. 

-Reliability, I definitely want something that's at least going to have a good shot at being reliable.  And doubly so for being able to easily replace crap on it when it inevitably wears out or breaks.  I know it's not overly 'in the spirit', but, it would be great to get a decent amount of track time in our first few races (although, no guarantees no matter what route we take) - at least long enough to get things figured out.  I hadn't thought about looking at car forums - I know that, drivetrain-wise, street reliable and Lemons reliable can be two vastly different things.  I've mostly been looking around here, but I guess Googling '4th gen F-body endurance racing' or similar might turn up some good information.  Considering what extras the car comes with is important too - I've found most ads are good about noting age of belts and if a fire suppression system is present, but a lot just say 'lots of spare parts', which, I get not listing them all out, but, are they parts that break all the time?  Random stuff you decided to save from the donor car 5yrs ago?

-I guess the thing I'm most concerned with is, how do I tell if the cage is shit or not?  And, in general, just because a car will pass tech, doesn't mean a car is a good idea, from a safety perspective.  But, I guess that's just something that will come with experience.  I've just gotta remember that, no matter how many times I read the rules and look over the car, failing tech is something that sometimes just happens, especially early on. 

-About a team.  I know.  I've got my one friend, who I know wants to participate (he's the one who did all the legwork and found opportunity at CMP, and we spent the whole trip back talking about how we get into this, and we've talked several more times, so, I think he's on board), and several other people have expressed interest.  I think we'll also end up teaming up with the guys we did CMP with some, but, they don't seem to want to travel very far.  I'm finally about to where I can start working on the garage I've been dreaming about since I bought my house 3 years ago, but I have a fairly protected carport that will do in the meantime.  My Dad just got a new truck, and is giving me his '99 Suburban, so that's pretty awesome, and we can just rent a trailer from U-Haul for awhile.  I've got a mechanic friend who's said he wants to crew, but, we'll see.  It'd be great if he could come and help get us back on the track when idiot me overrevs the engine and blows it, but, I don't know how fun just being crew is (but maybe I can convince him to get behind the wheel).  Raleigh also seems to be a pretty popular area for Lemons, so, I don't think we'll have too much of a problem getting people to drive and help defray the costs.  I know the not-so-little things add up (gas cans, seats, belts, consumables, etc), but that's the case with everything (just on a bit grander scale here). 

BigBird - Hoping you're right (and you probably are) that tech requirements probably won't change much for next year.  I'd totally be in for your Allante if you were close, but, truthfully, if I were going to the left coast, I'd snatch up that Volvo 240/245 wagon in a heartbeat.  I really enjoyed racing the coupe.  But, where do you have it listed?  I check here, RacingJunk, and the 'Unofficial...' and 'Citrus Racer' groups on FaceBook, and I haven't seen your car.  Just want to make sure I'm not missing somewhere. 

OnkelUdo - You probably guessed, but we're pretty much 2's.  Although, we might could move into a 2.5 as time goes by.  We've already got a list of cars that we think would be good, fun racers to build, but I've also got a list of, not necessarily IoE cars, but cars that don't really belong on a racetrack, but I just think it would be fun to do.

VK - I'm e-mailing you, thanks for volunteering as tribute.  wink

10 (edited by VKZ24 2019-11-08 11:57 AM)

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

mthew_m wrote:

I guess the thing I'm most concerned with is, how do I tell if the cage is shit or not?  And, in general, just because a car will pass tech, doesn't mean a car is a good idea, from a safety perspective.

There are a couple of ways to go on the cage.  I've seen ones that passed tech, that I wouldn't feel safe in either, so I take your point.  First option is to take a TON of pics (with decent lighting!) and post them here.  Plenty of people here will help you critique the cage, and you can also send pics to TEO (Pagel).  Second option, if you find something local enough, I'd be willing to go look at it with you.  I've built four Lemons cages, so I'm familiar with the rules and what should be safe.


mthew_m wrote:

VK - I'm e-mailing you, thanks for volunteering as tribute.  wink


OK, cool.   Have you sent anything?  If so, I didn't get it.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
'93 Acura Integra - No VTEC Yo!

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

We have not heavily marketed the car yet....We did post it once on the Cars for Sale section here....
https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=38467

40+x Loser.....You'd think I would learn......
5x I.O.E  Winner   1 Heroic Fix Winner   1 Org Choice Winner
2x  I Got Screwed Winner    2x Class C Winner
(Still a Class B driver in a Class A car)

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

meyers0150 wrote:

It's very easy.  Buy one with a legal cage and a good platform to build off of.  Like my 00 Firebird!!!  https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=38589

Believe me, I very much want to.  A 4th gen was my dream car growing up (don't hate), and it'd be so cool to have one.  But, I Hate the 'sitting in a bathtub' driving position (I can only assume I'd hate it more on track), and, while I believe you can make them pretty reliable, supposedly they're an absolute bitch to work on, even hanging from a lift.  But I do want it...

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

If you're just starting, buy (or rent) something legal and party like rock stars.

Unless you're into actually building cars.

That guy

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

mthew_m wrote:

.  I hadn't thought about looking at car forums - I know that, drivetrain-wise, street reliable and Lemons reliable can be two vastly different things.  I've mostly been looking around here, but I guess Googling '4th gen F-body endurance racing' or similar might turn up some good information.

Honestly I was thinking more along the lines of hubs, bearings, brakes, giubos, ECU's, etc.  Blown engines and shelled transmissions sucks but many teams can't get back on the track the same weekend if one of those goes bad (we can and have lots of practice).  The thing that sucks worse is when it is a simple, known to fail by everyone that street drives the model type of thing...and you did not bring a spare (E30 giubo or ECU...Buick 3800 ignition module...Saturn 1.9L starter or alternator...VW Golf/Jetta wheel bearings).  Granted, if it is common enough car that "Available at Autozone in Peru, IN at 7 PM" becomes more likely but you skill loose valuable track time retrieving the part.  OTher end of the spectrum...most parts stores don't stock that magic rubber coupling every 3-series Bimmer guy knows to replace...yet the Yokohama former Spec (whatever E##) lost pretty much a whole weekend when theirs let go.

Re: How To: Buy a used Lemons Racecar!

mthew_m wrote:
meyers0150 wrote:

It's very easy.  Buy one with a legal cage and a good platform to build off of.  Like my 00 Firebird!!!  https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … p?id=38589

Believe me, I very much want to.  A 4th gen was my dream car growing up (don't hate), and it'd be so cool to have one.  But, I Hate the 'sitting in a bathtub' driving position (I can only assume I'd hate it more on track), and, while I believe you can make them pretty reliable, supposedly they're an absolute bitch to work on, even hanging from a lift.  But I do want it...

Working on them, at least the 3.8, is very easy with parts everwhere.  While it does sit very low, even lower that a stock 4th Gen to pass the broomstick rule it really is fun on track.  200hp in Lemons isn't too bad either.  Let me know if you're curious and want to check it out, the price is right.

Team Glue Sticks
00 Firebird, 02 X-Type, 93 NX2000, 00 Mazda 626 (Sold)
2016 NJMP Heroic Fix, 2017 NJMP Near Heroic Fix except we can't drive, 2017 Thompson I Got Screwed, 2019 Pitt Heroic Fix