NMC LeMons Experience – Part One – The Maui Reveal

My wife is basically crazy. A typical not-crazy wife will give her husband a nice polo shirt for Father’s Day. She will help the kids make bacon and eggs for him for breakfast. If she’s way out there, a Bloody Mary might be part of the deal. My wife? She’s crazy.

It was Father’s Day 2016. We were on our annual vacation with all of our family in Maui, sitting on the back deck when she handed me a box and wished me a “Happy Father’s Day”. Opening the box revealed printed sheets of paper, the first of which read “How Not To Fail Tech Inspection”. She had given me the go-ahead to participate in the 24 Hours of LeMons. I was dumbstruck, not expecting this at all. LeMons is one of those things I expected to always wanted to have done without actually doing it, like skydiving (the difference there being I strongly desire to never skydive). I revealed the news to my dad at our Father’s Day dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House that night and we spent the entire evening planning our glorious victory.

For those of you not familiar with the 24 Hours of LeMons, I’ll provide a brief overview. Those of you who know all about it may skip ahead to the next paragraph. LeMons is an endurance race held at tracks around the US, primarily. The race runs over two days and is a total of about 15 to 16 hours of racing. Teams may have up to six drivers. The value of the team’s car may not total over $500, or the team gets penalty laps – one lap for every ten dollars over $500. Parts sold from the car can offset the price of the car. For example, if you buy an $800 car, sell the dash for $300, you now have a $500 car. The $500 limit does not include safety items. The roll cage, brakes, fuel system, kill switch, wheels, tires and exhaust after the manifold are all exempt costs, as are gauges.

The next day, the realization soon sunk in that when we returned home, we would have less than two months to purchase a car, strip it, have a roll cage installed, and prepare the whole thing for competition. Most of the rest of our vacation was spent in the pool discussing potential cars, modifications and a theme. We chose our core team of drivers – Me, the 17 and 26 year old sons and my wife. We browsed Craigslist while poolside, identifying a Pinto wagon that was already caged and a Volvo coupe as potential candidates. Our primary criteria were that the car be rear wheel drive and have a manual transmission.

Each LeMons team must have a funny theme. When applying for a race, the team must submit an essay detailing the car and, most importantly, the theme. We quickly decided that our team would be NachoFriend. We would serve nachos in the paddock, bribe the BS judges with tequila and celebrate all things nacho.  The BS judges determine the actual value of one’s car at the race. They expect to be bribed. Our essay for the Ridge race in Shelton, Washington was due before we were to head back home from Maui, so I submitted it before our team had a car and hoped for the best.

To be continued…

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