(This is a behind the scenes look at my recent race at LeMons. The full story is on Bloomberg News, titled “Clash of Clunkers Puts Speed Freaks on Racetrack in $500 Cars.”)
When I first contacted Jay Lamm, the “brains” behind 24 Hours Of LeMons — a race where no car can cost more than $500 — I asked if he could put me on a team. “Civilian or journalist?” he asked. I know how other car journalists tend to drive, so I quickly asked for the civie team.
Soon he linked me up with BuckSnort Racing, a family affair out of Michigan, who are hands down the nicest people I’ve ever met. I had about a five minute conversation with Tim Horbal, a 20-something who’s also an engineer at Toyota, before he’d invited me onto the team. No vetting, no wondering about my own credentials (ie, ability to drive). And little concern, seemingly, that all the hours of work, all the money and care put into their quite cherry 1987 BMW 325e could vanish under the hands of someone they’d never even met. I could crash into the wall on the first lap, after all.
My buddy and colleague Joshua Paul accompanied me out to Detroit, where we then made the two-hour drive toward Lake Michigan, where Gingerman Raceway is located. (I thought it was right outside of Detroit… um, research much Jason?)
Minutes upon arriving, I was buckled into the very clean, very well-taken-care of BMW, and was out doing practice laps. Minutes after that I was back on solid ground, confident in both the car and having an idea of the racetrack, and enjoying myself talking to parents Richard and Linda; nephew and his wife Ben and Jen Machnee (Ben is a genius mechanic) and their Austrian friends, the Scherzers. Five of us would be driving 15 hours over the weekend. Continue reading…