What does it take to go LeMons racing? This is a frequent question. What it takes is a good bit of money, a lot of time and patience. Lots of patience. Working on beater cars is tough for a lot of reasons. You have rust, funky wiring, lack of parts, tight spaces, sharp edges and more rust. You pretty much bleed money for three or four months. Still, you have a ton of fun, get to solve a lot of problems and you get to drive a race car like Allan McNish. OK, maybe night quite like Allan McNish.
There are three general categories of LeMons cars. The cheater beater that is way faster than it should be and has had way more money than appropriate (or legal) spent on it, the cheap and reliable car (our Escort) or the novelty car that is raced just to see if it can make it. I freely admit that we go for reliable because we love being on the track. For me working on the car is fun, but is nothing compared to racing it.
That said, we still end up spending a ton of money on the thing. The Escort cost us $300 from Craig’s list when we bought it in 2008. We then put in $2000 to get it ready for the first race. Each race after that has seen us spend around $1400 on maintenance and tires. Tires are the kicker. Even cheap tires are going to run you $500 a set after getting them mounted and balanced.
The time commitment is also big. We are not professional mechanics. Everything takes about three times longer than you would think to do. It is just the nature of things. Fabricating roll cages, fitting seats, bleeding brakes and clutches all take time. You need to be ready to commit that time.
So, you might be asking, how is your car? Well, it is as ready to race as we can make it. We’ve fixed the blown head gasket, replaced the front struts, installed some cheap Ebay coilovers, replaced the rear brake calipers and all the rotors and pads (thanks Raceshopper.com!), and tested our spare engine. It should all be good to go. Tonight we load up the car and tomorrow we head for the track. We’re all excited and I expect we will have a great weekend.