Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Because LeMons Legends Don’t Just Win Races: The Amazing Cars and Costumes of Eyesore Racing

We of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court hear a lot of whining from certain quarters about the handful of teams that keep on taking overall wins in race after race. “That can’t be a $500 car!” they wail about Hong Norrth Racing or Cerveza Racing or Skid Marks Racing. “They have a secret hidden 50-gallon fuel cell! The corner workers hate our team!” It goes on and on, and the team that makes the biggest blip on conspiracy-theorist West Coast racers’ radar screens is, of course, the New York Yankees of the area’s LeMons events: Eyesore Racing and their ghettocharged Mazda Miata. Sure, Eyesore wins a lot of races, and the team includes Mazda and Garrett engineers plus about 1.4 advanced science degrees per team member, but what really makes them Legends of LeMons has always been the way they decorate their car and the costumes they wear to the track. Let’s take a screaming turbocharged drive down Eyesore Memory Lane, shall we?

The Eyesores started their LeMons career in 2007 with a Honda CRX—a very appropriate choice, given that team captain Dave Coleman spent many years as Engineering Editor of Sport Compact Car magazine. They and their car didn’t much stand out from the other beat-to-hell Hondas at the early California races at the time, but that would change in a hurry once the ’08 LeMons season got going.

Eyesore showed up for the notorious “Altamont demolition derby LeMons” of May 2008 as Eyesore Pimpin’, complete with all the drivers dressed as mackin’ pimps and bad-ass hoes.

Their CRX had been converted to the “Honda CRXdorado Shaftmobile D-Luxe” with Continental kit, leopard-skin landau roof, a Cadillac grille, a custom license plate reading PIMPN≠EZ, and gold wheels.

What had gotten into this bunch of pocket-protector-wearing, super-nerdly engineers and scientists? Nobody had ever seen anything like this at a LeMons race before, and Eyesore Pimpin’ instantly changed 24 Hours of LeMons culture forever. After that race, which saw Eyesore Pimpin’ win the People’s Choice trophy (precursor to the Organizer’s Choice) and finish 19th out of 89 to boot, the LeMons team costume and car theme arms race really began.

After that race, the Eyesore crew realized that the CRX had just been hit too many times to race again (LeMons races at Altamont were metal-crunching, paint-trading affairs, unlike the less crashy races of the current era), and they fed the CRXdorado D-Luxe to the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. They weren’t done with LeMons racing, however.

So, the team stitched together the unwrecked halves of two wrecked Miatas, then plumbed in a turbocharger from a Mexican-market Dodge minivan for $95.55. Thus was the Frankenmiata born.

The Frankenmiata made its debut at the 2008 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at Northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway, and it proved to be very fast and reasonably reliable, finishing in P4 and racking up the second-quickest lap time of the race.

The car was decorated with metal stitches and missing body parts, and the team wore these Frankenstein-ian outfits (the men were supposed to be dressed in white lab coats, but the lab-coat supply company shipped them late). With back-to-back great themes, plus a top-five finish, Eyesore Racing had become one of the main LeMons teams to watch.

The next West Coast race was the Goin’ For Broken at Reno-Fernley Raceway in the Nevada high desert. At this point, the Eyesores knew they had a reputation to uphold, so they went all-out and converted the Frankenmiata to Elvis Presley’s pink Cadillac.

Fins, chrome, Las Vegas 1964-style logo, the works.

But the car itself sort of faded into the background, once everyone at Reno-Fernley caught a look at the Eyesores themselves. Every single member of the team, male and female, had become Elvis!

On top of all that, Eyesore Racing took their very first win on laps, taking advantage of their forced induction at the near-mile-high altitude and building on all their previous driving experience to beat 100 other teams. The other teams stacked with “serious racers” didn’t quite know what to think after getting smoked by these nerds in goofy costumes, so they started complaining about the unfairness of a Mazda team captained by a Mazda engineer.

The next time we saw Eyesore Racing was at the 2009 Buttonwillow Histrionics (so named because the race took place at the same time as the Monterey Historics, much to the dismay of many LeMons racers who wanted to go look at old Ferraris whacking guardrails at Laguna Seca). They’d gone with a Molly Maid theme this time.

Yes, just as every team member had become Elvis (regardless of gender) at the previous race, this time they had all donned “sexy French maid” outfits. They wore them all weekend, even when working on the car. This time they finished fifth out of 99 entries; the overall winner was the Ford 302–powered Volvo 240 originally built by the team assembled by your LeMons correspondent, in a crazy battle that saw the Volvo take the lead on the final turn of the race when the race leader flipped his car with seconds to go.

By this time, Eyesore had become the team to beat in West Coast LeMons racing, not only on the track but in the costume department. For the 2009 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at Thunderhill, the Eyesore Miata returned as a reasonably credible Batmobile.

No off-the-shelf cheapo Halloween-costume Batman outfits for this bunch!

Eyesore finished second at this race, with lap times several seconds quicker than the BMW 325i that took the overall win.

For the first and only LeMons race in Arizona, the 2010 Auction-Weekend Gavel-Tap at Firebird International Raceway (on the same weekend as the nearby Barrett-Jackson car auctions, hence the name), Eyesore Racing opted for an “Alice in Wonderland” theme.

The car was covered with Lewis Carroll–esque imagery, complete with a tablecloth and tea set glued to the decklid. To see the on-track view from the TeaSetCam™ installed on the decklid, go here.

If the universities that awarded “Tweedledum” and “Tweedledee” their doctorates ever saw this photograph, they’d probably need to undergo an agonizing reappraisal of their policies. Or maybe not, because Eyesores in Wonderland won this race by a massive 21 laps over the P2 car.

In the Spring of 2010, the 24 Hours of LeMons rolled into Sears Point a.k.a. Infineon Raceway, and Eyesore Racing celebrated by converting their much-modified Miata into the Starship Enterprise.

Note the air channel on the top of the fiberglass-and-spray foam “starship’s” disc.

Yes, these pi-to-the-5000th-digit-memorizing engineers actually performed computer-simulation wind-tunnel modeling of their car’s decorations, because why not?

According to Eyesore’s calculations, the Enterprise’s disc would allow sufficient cooling air to pass through the radiator, while not slowing the car as much as your typical LeMons starship’s rig.

Let’s compare the Eyesore Enterprise’s design with that of the Homersexuals, a team of U235-handling technicians from the Oak Ridge uranium-processing plant. These guys, who were so pleased to be called “a bunch of Tennessee Homer Simpsons” by your LeMons correspondent that they decided to run with the theme, bolted a garbage can to the roof of their hooptie Chevy Malibu and then built a gigantic Homer head around it. The only wind-tunnel testing they did was to mash the throttle and see if the head blew off at 90 mph (it didn’t).

The Eyesore Enterprise wouldn’t have been right without more hand-tailored costumes, and the team managed to top even the bar set by Eyesore Pimpin’ two years earlier.

If you were issuing federal security clearances, would you grant this man access to your top-secret ████████ or your sensitive ████████ ████████ projects?

Eyesore kept the Star Trek theme for the 2010 B.F.E. GP in Colorado (where they went on an uncharacteristic black-flag binge but still finished in P3) and the 2010 Goin’ For Broken at Thunderhill (where they were beaten out for the overall win by about 19 seconds when the Rogue Squadron Sentra SE-R became the first Nissan to win a LeMons race), then revamped the team with an Aladdin theme for the 2010 Arse Sweat-a-Palooza at Thunderhill. Yes, the “magic lantern” was a bit disturbing.

The Miata got high-speed-rated palm trees and a magic carpet on the roof, and the team finished fourth out of 121 entries.

For this race, Eyesore added the ex-Team Blanco Basura Honda Prelude, which got a quickie Aladdin-ization treatment and finished 15th.

The Aladdin theme was great, but the Eyesores were on a costume roll by this point and started over from scratch for the final California race of 2010, the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at Buttonwillow. This time, they were the heavily armed, red-white-and-blue Eyesore Team America, complete with Kim Jong-il and a missile launcher on the Miata’s roof.

With 173 entries and the competition getting stiffer with each passing race, the Eyesore Miata finished in P2, on the same lap as the Spin-N-Out Urge BMW 325i of POSRacing. Meanwhile, the Eyesore Prelude suffered typical Honda head-gasket problems and ended the race in 148th overall.

Regional champions get free admission to LeMons season-ender races, and so Eyesore Racing towed their Miata— still sporting Team America colors— all the way from Los Angeles to Florida for the controversy-fraught 2010 Painfully Bland Bowl of Thin Lukewarm Oatmeal That Can’t Possibly Offend Anyone, No Matter How Much They Enjoy Being Offended, 24-Hour Season Ender. That race, they ran up against a couple of emerging powerhouse teams of the southeastern LeMons world, finishing just behind the Mazda MX-3 of Hong Norrth and the Ford Probe of Team BoomPowSurprise. Back in California for the 2011 season, they fell under the spell of Charlie Sheen and his bewildering tirades early in the year and redecorated as Eyesore Sheen for the 2011 Sears Pointless race at Infineon.

The car was painted up in tiger stripes, with an appropriate hood mural.

The team dressed as Charlie, his “goddesses,” an Absolute Ninja Warrior Vatican Assassin, and so on. It all looked pretty good, but there was just one problem . . .

The Cannonball Bandits, LeMons Legends in their own right and creators of the LeMons Wienermobile and the Tiger Woods Escalade, had also decided to do a Charlie Sheen theme, with a far more convincing Charlie plus a stripper-equipped pole on the roof of their Supra.

Whenever the Cannonball Bandits’ car would come into the Penalty Box, “Charlie” would be covered in white powder. All in all, the Eyesore Charlie Sheen theme didn’t quite meet their usual standards.

After that, the LeMons Supreme Court commanded Eyesore Racing to re-theme their car as the Manson Family Miata for the 2011 Goin’ For Broken race at Reno-Fernley. If you don’t do that, we told them, we’ll give you 10,000 penalty laps. Well, they didn’t believe us, which meant that they had to burn rubber to Reno and get the paint needed to go all Helter Skealter (sic) on their car in a hurry.

The Helter Skealtermobile ended up winning the race by five laps, or about seven and a half minutes, an eternity in a race like this. We’re sure they had fun explaining the “DIE PIGS” signs, seemingly painted in blood on their car, to CHP officers on the way back to Los Angeles.

For some reason, the Eyesores wanted to ditch the Manson paint job for the next race, which happened to be the 2011 Arse Sweat-a-Palooza at Thunderhill, so they donned smoking jackets and bunny outfits and Hugh Hefner-ized the whole team.

They covered the car with (tastefully censored) centerfolds.

Here’s Judge Armand of the LeMons Supreme Court, getting martini’d by two Eyesore drivers and their costume designer. Yes, boys, these women drive faster than you!

All weekend, we saw multiple pipe-smoking “Hugh Hefners” in smoking jackets and bunnies with tails and ears roaming the Thunderhill paddock. The Hefnermobile finished in P2 out of 112 entries at that race. The team returned with the same outfits for the 2011 Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 at Sears Point, where they finished third (out of a staggering total of 164 teams) and looked good doing it.

For the 2011 Arse Freeze-a-Palooza at Buttonwillow, Eyesore took a look at current events and decided that the then-peaking Occupy movement looked like good theme fodder for their car. Occupy Sesame Street!

Other teams went with Occupy themes, but this time Eyesore Racing didn’t fall into the shadow of a team with a better version of their theme (though this Occupy Pit Lane Celica did look great).

The Miata, now hauling at least 100 pounds of paint from previous incarnations, got some garbage cans and Sesame Street signs.

Playboy Bunny one race, Cookie Monster the next! That’s just how Eyesore Racing rolls.

For the 2012 season, Eyesore Racing installed a gigantic North Korean “Most Glorious and Totally Innocent Research Satellite” on the roof of the car and painted the whole mess a proletarian olive drab.

The Communist Party! Note the festive party hats.

Because of the demands of work and new parenthood, Eyesore Racing didn’t have the time in 2012 to keep up their usual new-theme-every-couple-of-races pace. The Communist Party Miata finished first, fifth, third, and ninth during their 2012 LeMons campaign, all in hard-fought events with 100-plus entries. Rumors are swirling about a new Eyesore car for the 2013 season, something that should be far more ridiculous—and thus more LeMon-y—than a turbocharged Miata. Let’s hope the team finally steps up with the Norma Desmond Isotta Fraschini theme your LeMons correspondent has been demanding for years!

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/DG9GfucLJgE/

Georges Grignard Bobby Grim Romain Grosjean Olivier Grouillard Brian Gubby

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