I am finally getting down to writing my review of our Lemons experience – this first post will be about Saturday setup while following posts will be about things like on-track action, mechanical breakdowns, jury rigged repairs and other bits of lemons fun.
As I had mentioned before, we had some tire wear issues on during our Friday test session. The banked turns were enough lateral load (sustained 1.3 G) on the car that we were blistering the outer edge of our right front tire. While raising the tire pressures did help, there was no way that our tires would last an entire race with such uneven wear. The first thing we did was call pretty much every the tire shop in the Bay Area to find one that stocked Falken Azenis and was open early on Saturday. Eventually we found a place in Milpitas that opened at 8am and Gabe did an emergency tire run to pick up four tires.
The new tires would however only be a bandaid to the tire wear issues – we really needed a way add negative camber at the front in order to get even tire wear. In keeping with the Lemons philosophy of cheap and easy fixes, Rob brought out his trusty strut bender. The strut bender is a hydraulic tool that is bolted to the wheel hub and uses a combination of a positioning chain and a hydraulic ram to bend the strut and thereby adjust the camber on the wheel. Its quite an interesting device to look at and as you can see below, Rob had a large crowd of interested onlookers asking him what he was doing. 🙂
Once we had sorted out our suspension, we went to the tech inspection area. The inspection had two parts – first they inspected at the car and the drivers equipment to ensure that we passed the minimum safety requirements. Once that was done we went over to the judge to get our car costs accessed. The “Judge” (who wears judicial robes and a wig) inspects the car to see if it is worth $500 or less. Cars that are judged to be too expensive are accessed a BSF which calculated as follows:
To prevent cheating, all cars will be inspected by a panel appointed by the organizers. At that time, all teams will be given an opportunity to describe the car’s purchase and prep. If the panel believes the $500 limit has been exceeded, it will assign a Bullshit Factor (BSF) equal to one BSF per ten dollars above the limit. The entry will be docked one lap for each BSF assigned. (Ten dollars = one BSF = one lap.) Entrants are encouraged to bring all supporting evidence and make up plausible-sounding stories in advance. Appeal of BSF Panel Decisions: Get real. There’s no appealing this decision. You’re boned.
We did get a couple of questions regarding the cost of the car, especially since we had a new radiator and muffler (the lack of receipts and a bill of sale didn’t help either), but in the end they had to accept that an E30 BMW isn’t worth more than $500 no matter how many new parts you throw on it.
Once we were through tech we went through our final prep and double checked things like the lap transponder, fuel, chasecam setup, DL1, etc… At about 2pm, Jay Lamm (the organizer) called everyone over to the budget truck that served as his office and conducted a drivers meeting over a megaphone. After telling us several times to not to hit each other, he turned it over to the track marshal to explain the flagging situation. Unlike SCCA racing which have some 10 different kinds of flags, Lemons has just 3 flags:
Green: Race is on
Yellow: Full course yellow – slow down, no passing allowed.
Black: You’ve been a bad boy – come into the pits and roll the wheel of misfortune.
There are no debris flags or stationary yellows to warn of obstructions – racers will have figure out the best way around anything on the track. Additionally cars stalled on track will not be towed immediately, instead the marshals will wait until there is a car in an unsafe position on track before throwing a yellow flag and towing out a bunch of cars at the same time.
Once all the drivers meeting was done all the teams were sent back to the pits and told to line up to enter the track – the 24 Hours of Lemons “ARSE-FREEZE-APALOOZA” was about to begin.