Saturday, October 25, 2008
Chris accepted the award for the team. This was way beyond any of our expectations. We initially prayed that the truck would run long enough for everyone to get a turn. The fact that it made it to Sunday was an absolute bonus!
The truck ended up being a huge surprise for everyone. It was the ONLY truck entry in the field of 75 cars accepted to run this race. It had not been run except to the corner and back a couple of times. It handled and turned like no one expected. It never overheated or had any brake failure. In 403 laps, not one of our team drivers spun out. Only 1 driver put 2 wheels off and it was an evasive move, not an out-of-control one. After starting 14 laps down, we actually got a top 10 finish!
The team had a celebratory dinner in Baytown, TX on the way home. The trophy was the table centerprice as we bench-raced and congratulated each other on an absolutely fun and wild weekend of racing.
The link to the results on the 24 Hours of LeMons website is: http://www.24hoursoflemons.com/results/
There are complete resuts up on MyLaps: http://www.mylaps.com/results/showrun.jsp?id=996969
Jalopnik's coverage can be found at: http://jalopnik.com/tag/24-hours-of-lemons/
There is also some great coverage on http://www.autofiends.com/ under "Great Moments in Texas LeMons Judging." Look for all 4 parts to the series of articles and a couple of other miscellaneous articles.
And last, but not least, there is a Yahoo Group for the 24 Hours of LeMons: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/24hoursofLeMons/
P.S. We want to race the truck! I get to race the truck next on Nov. 1-2, 2008 in the Grand Bayou Race Series at No Problem Raceway. Check back to the Mike Poupart Motorsports blog for that report!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Mike was shown the "meatball" flag to him to come in because the bumper was hanging a bit on the driver's side. His stint was over at this point anyway. He got out of the truck in our paddock and the jack went underneath to get it up in the air to check stuff. An official came over the made them stop and put the truck back on the ground and bring it to impound. Mike was also required to go with the truck as he was speeding in the pit. Impound would be for 30 minutes from 12:30 - 1:00 p.m. At 12:42, we were released and told in a clear, firm tone to "go fix your bumper." Whoo-hoo, only a 12 minute penalty. I think maybe they like us!
The team took the truck to the fueling station first and then went to the paddock to fix the bumper and get Rowdy #1 (Chris Wilken) in the driver's seat. We only lost about 20 minutes between the time Mike came in to when Chris went back out. The next set of timing sheets came out at 12:37 p.m. We were up to 12th place with 277 laps and a total race time of 8:44:24.158. Mike had the new fastest lap for the team with a 1:19.535!
We couldn't figure out how the Cajun Rice Burners (our friends from Baton Rouge) were increasing their lead over us when they were in the penalty box so many times today. We still trailed them by 5 laps and the leaders were 38 laps ahead of us. Rowdy #3 (Phil LaHaye) was up next at 1:50 p.m. Phil ran clean. He had been a "lonely goat" for about 24 hours from the time of his fender bender yesterday to Mike's bump-n-go today.
The latest timing sheets came out at 2:00 p.m. showing us in 13th place with 317 laps. Our total race time was 10:13:41.009 and Mike still had the fastest lap time for our team. Phil was due to come in about 2:50 p.m. and the rest of the team was ready in the re-fueling station. Yellow flags came out everywhere and it was a full course yellow. Standing on top of the motor home to signal Phil at the appointed time, I let him go by me once and on the 2nd time by I gave him the sign to come in. The radios weren't working by this time (batteries dead) and I had to scramble down the ladder from the top of the motor home and run through the pits to make sure someone was waiting to direct Phil to the refueling area. Our team was on the ball! Dennis was already there waiting.
The last driver swap of the day took place and it was time for Rowdy #4 (Mark Summers) to drive. Another set of timing sheets came out at 3:16 p.m. and we were scored in 9th place with 365 laps. Our total race time was 11:30:39.446. We were now ahead of the Cajun Rice Burners by 3 laps, but the leaders were now 50 laps ahead of us. The checkered flag finally waved at 4:20 p.m. signaling the end of the race. Our total race time was 12:30:43.770 for 403 laps and we finished in 9th place!
Time to go to the awards ceremony before we finish packing up and loading the truck and golf cart on the trailer.
The team decided that Dennis Gros (Rowdy #5) would be first up today. He got the truck in line early and was the 3rd car on the track to resume pace laps at 9:32 a.m. The green flag dropped at 9:50 a.m. Today is the day that the race is won. There are a lot of cars that won't be starting and, out of those that do, many of them won't make it through the entire day. Not only will the attrition rate climb due to mechanical failures, but the count on penalties resumes and there were a lot of teams that are dangerously close to being put out.
Speaking of penalties, we've seen some pretty wild ones assessed and carried out so far this weekend. Yesterday, I was in the golf cart passing the impound area and saw a guy with his shirt off and his driver's suit tied down around his waist. The strange part was that he had been coated with honey and feathers and he was standing there picking feathers off of himself! I realized after a moment that it was the "Colonel Sanders Penalty." There was the "Sarah Palin 'Hunt the Bear' Penalty" where the driver has to put on lipstick, pull on a camoflaged hood and apply "coon urine." The driver must then take the baby and shotgun and hunt a brown bear in the pits. When the driver returns he/she must then change the baby.
Another of my favorites is the "Barnyard Penalty" where the Arc Angel welds metal farm animals to the roof of the offending car. And another that I saw and almost fell off the top of the motor home from laughter was the "You Drive Like Shit Penalty" where the Arc Angel welded a toilet paper stand on the front fender of a car.
At 10:28 a.m. Dennis was brought to the penalty box. The team met up with him while he was getting out of the truck and the penalty was being explained. Supposedly, he passed under a yellow flag and ignored a black flag for quite a while. He was to stay in the penalty box for 30 minutes. In talking, Dennis remembered that an Rx7 was passing him and suddenly put on the brakes to drop back in line. Apparently the official that called it in saw what looked like Dennis going by the RX7. Oh no! That's not going to fly! We explained it to the impound officials and they let us go after 7 minutes into the half hour. Whoo-Hoo! Patty kissed the Judges (on the cheek) before jumping onto the back of the golf cart as it sped back to the pit.
Rowdy #6 (Robbie Poupart) was next up. The team got him in the truck and on the track within 10 minutes from being released from impound. The first standings sheets for the day came out at 11:09 a.m. showing The Professionals in 14th place with 223 laps in the race and a total race time of 7:23:54.944. The team's best lap was now a 1:20.200, probably set by Robbie in his first 25 minutes of his stint. His helmet radio was working and Chris and I had the headsets on to communicate with him and each other. At one point, Chris is telling Robbie to pick out his spot to get in line before going through the tire walls on the back straight. We watched as Robbie made his own lane and drove right up the left side of everyone and ducked in front of them! Chris radioed back, "I'm sorry, I forgot who I was talking to." Robbie keyed back with, "You're talking to Rowdy "F**king" Burns!"
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Mark and Phil went off to the auto parts store before dinner. They came back with a Cherry Bomb muffler and a new radiator that "might" fit the truck, if it was needed. Some of the work was started before we went down to Brent's condo to eat dinner. We brought salad and bread. They were serving steak, pork chops, baked potatoes, and corn roasted in the husk. Donna "The Pie Nazi" Lyons' friend, Susan, went all out to make Mike a special pumpkin pie with a pecan topping. She made a couple of them and gave Mike one to take home.
There was a lot of work going on in the pits as the team returned to work. We weren't able to play music because Dennis had his small welding machine plugged into Mark's motor home. We figured it was a smarter idea to unplug everything to stay safe in case of any backfeed from the generator.
Strange people were seen wandering around in the paddock and a lot of them stopped and talked to us, including the BS Judges. They reassured us that they had not heard any talk of crushing the truck, which could have been BS on its own. I told them we hoped to take it home and raffle it off at our charity event to raise money for autism or something like that. It was late when we were finished. We didn't get to party as much, however we did drink. "Deejay C.W." didn't make it to the microphone and Mike didn't do that chicken dance. (That's another story in itself.) We all went to sleep pretty tired, but looking forward to another great day of racing.
At 4:05 p.m. it was time for the next driver change and Mark was given the sign with 2 fingers which meant to pit in 2 laps. The driver change was made in the fueling area. Dennis Gros was next up as the #5 driver for today. After only a couple of laps Dennis was flagged by the officials to come in. The team headed for impound to meet him and find out what was up. It seems they were looking for red paint on the truck. This would have been from a "supposed" incident while Mark was driving. When they couldn't find red paint, they called to T&S who said that a red car came into contact with another car numbered 11. OK, we were a truck with a large number 51 on the doors. The officials said it was a mistake and we were free to go. I couldn't resist and asked if we could have 5 of our penalty laps back for our inconvenience. I got one of those "looks" and was told to get out of there. Hey - it was worth a try!
So Dennis went back out for the remainder of his hour. The team continued to watch from the fence in our paddock and from the top of Mark's motor home. Everything was looking good. At 5:00 p.m., "Rowdy" #6, Robbie Poupart, was up for his stint and, as he exited the truck, Dennis helped Robbie get strapped in. The truck was refueled and Robbie was on his way.
The next timing sheets were posted at 5:00 p.m. and between Mark & Dennis, we had worked our way back up to 18th place. We were on lap 127 with a total race time of 4:29:52.068. I walked back over to the condo to get photos of Robbie from the balcony. Robbie had a good battle with the #68 Miata of The Bum Steers and the MooPoo Crew. It was a white Miata with black spots to look like a cow complete with a tail flailing in the air drafts behind the car. Robbie got close enough to it several times that he could almost reach out and touch it!
At 6:00 p.m., Robbie was shown the "meatball" flag and had to come in because the tailpipe was hanging. A temporary repair was made for that by Dennis and Mike. The O2 sensor had come loose and the truck was idling rough. Can't do anything to do about that now.
An announcement had been made earlier that because the race got such a late start, they would run until 6:30 p.m. tonight. We had an extra half hour of racing that we hadn't expected. So, since Mark had his session shortened due to the repairs being made after Phil's fender bender, Chris had Mark suit up and be ready to take the last half hour session.
Mark's session was somewhat uneventful and he kept the truck out of trouble. Mark took the checkered flag at 6:38 p.m. The Professionals were scored in 15th place with 182 laps and a total race time of 6:04:06.536. Robbie had recouped the team's fastest lap time of 1:21.428. We were down 24 laps from the leaders, The Schwing Team.
The truck made it through the entire day, was still in good shape, and the team was excited about their position at the end of the day. A couple of things need to be repaired on the truck to be ready to race tomorrow and we hope to party while we work!
Since the number peeled off of the hood during the trip over and it was looking a little bare, we found a black marker pen and drew a math equation on the hood that best described how we came to where we were starting the race.
All said and done, we were off to the driver's meeting.
After all the introductions and thanks to various volunteers and workers, Jay got serious about a few of the race rules and procedures, one of the officials from MSR-Houston went over flagging and track rules, and the Judges came forth regarding the depth and breadth of their wrath should a driver or team incur an infraction. Nearby was the Wheel of Misfortune and explanations of the terms of the penalties to be paid should a driver be black-flagged to come off the track to visit with the BS Judges. (Look in the slide show above for photos of the wheel and penalties.)
When the driver's meeting adjourned, there was only about 15 minutes before the cars would be let out on the track at 11:30 a.m. Chris Wilken got suited up and Mike, Robbie & Dennis cinched his belts and hooked up the radio in his helmet. Our paddock was right next to the pit out gate so he didn't have far to go to get onto the track. Chris' wife, Lois, and Mark's wife, Angela, and I went up to Brent's condo to watch the start of the race.
The Cajun Rice Burners, our friends from Baton Rouge, with Bryon Rome behind the wheel, were first out behind the pace truck and Chris was in 6th position. After about an hour of pace laps due to transponder issues with a multitude of race cars, the green flag finally waved for the 76 cars slated to race in this event. It was 12:29 p.m. and the race was on! Our team strategy was for each driver to go out for 1-hour stints, but it didn't always work that way. Yellow flags, fueling, driver changes, and the occasional incident altered the plans.
Chris made a lot of passes and even got as high as 4th place at one point. He came in for the driver change at 1:06 p.m. after an hour under pace laps and a half hour under race laps. Timing sheets were posted about every hour. At 1:30 p.m. we were scored in 16th place with 32 laps and a total race time of 59:20.062. The team's best lap time was 1:22.344.
Mike was the next driver and he did well in the Danger Ranger during his stint. He raced hard against the car that was leading the race, the light blue Toyota of the Schwing Team which was made to look like the AMC Gremlin from the movie, Wayne's World. He said the truck was easy to drive but the stick shift seemed to "run around" and was never in the same place when he went to grab it. Huh?? At 2:30 p.m., we had moved up to 7th place with 65 laps and a total race time of 1:.58:50.039. Mike also snagged the fastest lap for the team with a 1:22.165. We're not doing bad at this point! Remember, we started 14 laps down!
The next driver change put Phil LaHaye in the driver's seat. Phil was doing well, moving through traffic and staying clean. Suddenly, he was coming in off the track and heading for our paddock. It was 3:00 and he was in earlier than scheduled. Hopefully nothing was wrong. As the truck came through the pits we noticed that the front bumper was hanging. That was not a good sign. When he came to a stop, the front right tire had a groove cut into it from the bumper and it was shredded but not flat yet. The radiator was leaking and it appeared to have been punctured from the motor side.
The team sprang into action as Phil got out of the car. Robbie grabbed a jack and started changing the tire. Chris got to work on removing the front grill and getting the radiator out while Dennis took the sawzall and cut the ends of the bumper off. There wouldn't be any more tires cut from the bumper if the truck took another hit in the front! Once the radiator was emptied and taken out, Mike fixed the hole with JB Weld. After a 5-minute period to dry, the radiator was replaced and refilled with water.
Mark Summers was next up and Phil helped him get strapped in. By the time he pulled off, only 30 minutes had passed. Hopefully we haven't lost too many laps.
Friday, October 17, 2008
As it turned out, Chris did the talking for the team. He is the captain; he's a good guy; and he always tells the truth. Always. In return for his honesty with regard to how the shocks and alternator were acquired, the team was penalized 14 laps! That's equivalent to about 1 lap per every $10.00 over budget. We're starting 14 laps down before the green flag drops! Chris should have at least tried to bullshit his way out of it! In any event, the team was approved and given a "More or Less Good Enough" sticker to start the race.
The tech stories were shared over lunch once we got back from the store. I was disappointed because I wanted to get pictures, video, etc. and missed it. The guys said it was rather uneventful and I really didn't miss anything.
We went over to tech and watched a few other people get through. The Judges were dressed in long black robes with white curly wigs and carrying gavels. Some teams stood by and saw their cars get whacked with a sledge hammer or got small penalties of 1-5 laps, while others offered enticing bribes like steak & shrimp, beer, or large bottles of whiskey, and left tech with an approval and no penalties. The teams whose bribes were successful got a "bribed" stencil spray painted on their car. Our 14 lap penalty was not setting right with me. I felt we should appeal! I managed to get one of the Judges to the side and tried to talk our way to a lower penalty by "admitting" that I acquired the parts in exchange for personal miscellaneous services rendered and told the team that I purchased them as was requested. I had one Judge going for it and the other one (who looked like his twin brother) told him he had to quit being nice and that I should talk to Jay (the "Chief Purpetrator") to see if he would change it. Jay was nearby and said he only changed penalties upward. I held up my hands and said that it was time for us to go, thanks for your time, and we had fun playing the game! The Judge I had converted to our cause felt bad and gave me a t-shirt with a graphic of a drive shaft through a skull. Oh well, something is better than nothing!
While all of this was going on, Chris was mulling over the fact that although he did get to practice in the truck first, he had the crappiest set up. The tire pressures were too high and no one had a clue as to whether or not it would handle, much less drive a straight line. So he suited up and jumped in the truck and went out for another handful of laps. That was fun! Mike jumped in next and had the new fastest lap time for the team with a 1:21.4. Phil took the next stint and got a lot more seat time until he felt good about how the truck was handling on the track. They agreed that it was getting much easier to drive and it should be great tomorrow.
When the track went cold, the team picked up around our paddock area and headed down to the condo owned by our friend and fellow racer, Brent Mosing. Brent had invited all 4 of the Louisiana teams and their crew & families to dinner at his condo overlooking the turn at the end of the front straight. They cooked shishkabobs & sausage and served it with potato salad & bread. We brought a pumpkin pie for dessert and it was served with some apple pie by Brent's friends, Donna & Steve. Mike made such a fuss about getting some pie that he got a new nickname. Mike "I Must Have Pie" Poupart.
The team thanked our gracious hosts and his helpers and returned to our pit for cocktails, music and fun. Mark and Angela had a DJ station set up with their music. With liquid encouragement, Chris took over the microphone and began broadcasting from the WLMS Radio Network. "Deejay C.W." entertained us with his music introductions and various announcements to the crowd of a few and Patty danced in the pits moving and grooving with the music.
We were having a lot of fun, but not too much that we neglected to notice what was going on around us. A number of teams were working really hard on their cars. Some were still building their cars. We commented on it, looked back at the truck parked under the canopy, high-fived and fixed another round of drinks!
Soon it was time to call it a night and drive the 20 or so minutes back to our hotel. Tomorrow will come soon enough and we can start the fun all over again!
When found our pit and prepared to unload. Mark & Angela Summers and Phil & Susie LaHaye each had their motor homes parked with space for the race truck and the golf cart in the middle. The team unloaded the vehicles and we finished getting things set up before getting back to looking around at some of the competition.
There was a very old, rusted BMW that was parked across the road behind us. I was afraid to get too close without having a tetanus shot! There was one car with a fake parachute behind it that looked like it had been rolled off of a mountain and beat back into the shape of a motor vehicle with a maul. Then there were the fun-looking cars. The car with a huge mop that hung the length of the rear bumper and had a screen pop-up when they hit the brakes showing a poster of the guys from Pulp Fiction movie pointing guns. There was a Mus-Tank, a Lemonade Stand, one had a Chuck Norris poster on the hood. One had a big, giant joint mounted on the roof, while another had martini glasses mounted on the rear. There was also a land shark and a cow (complete with tail). I took lots of pictures of those throughout the day.
But this is the practice day. Its put on by the track and not really part of the event , so you have to be nice and play by track rules and do what the nice man says. Nothing special, just normal flagging rules like you would have on a track day.
The guys decided that they would draw for the order in which they would drive today. A deck of cards was produced and Chris peeled off six cards with the ace as number 1 for the first driver and the six being for the last. I shuffled and mixed and shuffled them up and laid them out in a row on the rear deck of the truck. Everyone stepped forward to pick a card and then gathered for a group photo with the truck while it still looked good. This is the "before" photo:
The line-up would be Chris, Mike, Phil, Mark, Dennis, and Robbie. Now they just hoped that everyone would get a turn to practice without an incident. They shuffled through driving about a half dozen or so laps each before switching out to the next driver. I took some photos of the truck on the track, but the comments in the pit during the driver changes were priceless. Here they are in the order that they drove:
Chris: "It was icy out there." "I think there's too much air pressure."
Mike: "It's like racing a pogo stick!" "No Problem Raceway is like Barber Motorsports Park in comparison to this track." "Yah, there's more out there."
Phil: "It's the nicest race car I've ever driven."
Mark: "What's the deal with the flag? I got scolded!" "It's gonna be fun!"
Dennis: "It's like driving a 5 h.p. go kart!" "Whaddaya mean I've got the new fastest lap for the team? I couldn't find 4th gear half the time!"
Robbie: "It's cool." "The dip back there was wild!" (Robbie also swipped the fastest lap time from Dennis with a 1:24.8)
During the team meeting after the morning sessions, Chris expressed that his #1 goal had been met - everyone got to drive the truck. And the bonus was no one spun and no one went off in the grass.
Although everyone is having a great time and enjoying the fun and games and wild ridiculousness of this event, we do miss our friends who worked on the truck and/or planned to be here with us as a driver or part of the crew. To Johnny Walter, Marshall St. Amant, and Richard Martin - we miss you and you will NOT miss this next time!
We stopped at O'Reilly's to get hose parts, clamps, and pipe for a parking lot repair to the fuel tank. Damn! We're working on the truck and we haven't even made it to the track! Chris, Mike & Robbie went into the store and Mike came out saying he left the two design engineers to figure out how to make what they needed. A few minutes later, Chris & Robbie came out with a bag and big smiles. The guys got to work on remaking and fitting the parts & pieces. Lois Wilken went back into the store for more parts. Robbie found an outdoor outlet on the front side of the building to plug in a power saw so he could cut the pipe. Dennis gave an assist by holding the pipe while Robbie cut it. I took pictures and giggled.
The parking lot repair didn't take very long. Chris yelled out a "yee-haw" and we got back in our vehicles headed for the track. Confidence in the filler neck repair was so high that we didn't even stop at a gas station to see if it would take the fuel properly. We headed straight for MSR Houston.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
A short time later a distress call went out due to the tow vehicle having a flat tire. Help was needed because Dennis didn't have the key to unlok his spare. How far did they get, you ask? 5 miles! Hopefully the remaining 375 miles to the track will be uneventful.
No such luck! The trailer had a blow-out about 40 minutes later in the Baton Rouge area. Luckily, it was on the right side again and they were able to change the tire without being exposed to the traffic passing on the interstate.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. Everything made it to Houston except the big numbers on the hood of the truck which blew off somewhere between Kenner and Houston. That lemon peel finish on the hood wasn't exactly the best surface for graphics. Oh well!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Guys and Gals,
After going through the multiple to do and check lists, we are getting down to the nitty gritty. Seems like fluid changes, a general nut and bolt check, and a string alignment is left and we are well on our way to making LEMONS HISTORY! Well, setting out to have a good time anyway.
It seems like a departure around 1:00 or so on Thursday afternoon works for most of the group, getting us to the hotel at or near 7pm. We will be using the open trailer and will try to pack the golf cart in the front along with a couple of small tool boxes and some spare parts and tires, mardi gras beads, lots of snacks and alcohol, etc. Not sure what the track food supply is going to be like so any contributions you want to make towards the effort will be greatly appreciated.
And while I am on the subject of appreciation, I just wanted to thank all of you for making this project come to life. If it is half as much fun to run as it was to build I can guarantee everyone a good time!
Talk with you all later!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I came back to find Robbie and Dennis set up in Chris' office with the vinyl cutting machine. The race number had been voted on and "51" was chosen. (Also because it was one of the few that were still available.) You "Days of Thunder" fans remember that "51" was the number of the Rowdy Burns. Well, you can't have Rowdy's number without putting his name on the car. So, the driver's name on both sides of the car is "Rowdy".
The truck has been made to mildly resemble those run in the "Craftsman Truck Series." This one is appropriately named "Crapsman Truck" on the windshield and the sponsor's name on the rear quarter panels is "Crapsman Truck Racing."
Besides being called the "Lemon Hauler" which is appropriate for the white and yellow paint "scheme" and the fact that it is being built for and raced in the 24 Hours of LeMons, it has also been called the "Danger Ranger." What better to put on the tailgate of the truck but it's designation which might help ward off any potential tailgaters or bump-drafters!
I'll add the slideshow so you can see what we have so far. Be sure to sign up as a follower or just check back during next weekend for updates. I'll have the computer at the track and will be able to upload pics and do blog updates as the race progresses.
Wish us luck! We'll need plenty of it! In any event, we'll be having LOTS of F-U-N!!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I hear things are being wrapped up. The roof is going to be welded back on as well as the "kill" switch and a few other things. It does run! After all, it was running when it was purchased. It "put-puts" a lot and the team is just hoping it will handle on the track.
Oh yeah, and the party plans are falling into place too! We'll be towing the truck on an open trailer. That ought to get a lot of attention! Sounds like we'll have 2 motor homes, one of them towing an "equipment/tool" trailer, bar-b-que pits, and ice chests with lots of food and drinks. It's gonna be a PARTY - New Orleans-style!!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Now we need a vote!