Lemons Racing at Pittsburgh

It’s been over a year since I’ve been away for any car events, so when my buddies called me from Team Punisher to stand in as their Crew Chief for a weekend of Lemons Racing in Pittsburgh, I said yes immediately!

Team Punisher has been around for about 10 years as a Lemons team, starting out racing a couple of Peugeot 405s, but soon upgraded to a Porsche 944. A couple of years ago, they got their hands on a salvage 928 and the allure of a powerful German V-8 has been hard to give up!

The Llanos brothers have been working all winter getting a second Porsche 928 ready for racing this season, and I was asked to sit in for one of the brothers who had a scheduling conflict. After working pretty steadily on street Ferraris for the past year, I was looking forward to doing some time at the track.

If you’re not familiar with Lemons racing, I call it “The Burning Man of auto racing!” It’s real racing, but the participants don’t take themselves too seriously, and everyone is there to have fun first, and drive fast second,… or at least as fast as their $500 dollar car will take them! Our Porsches were a little bit of a ringer compared to the other cars, but there were plenty of cars in the top 5 that were just as fast.

Our first mechanical failure was in the shifter coupling, which took us out of racing for a couple of hours, but we got her back on the track for the last few hours of racing for Saturday. This was endurance racing, so there was at least 7 hours of racing for each of the two days we were there so all of us got plenty of seat time.

The debut of the white car went well, with no major issues. Mark and I were trying to find the source of an oil leak after the end of the first day, deciding whether we could fix it, or if it would last a second full day of racing.

A foggy Sunday morning was met with a bad crash exiting the motel for the track. Running without headlights, a Hyundai broad sided Ryan’s Cayenne with such force it moved the Porsche 25 feet further down the road. Luckily no one was seriously hurt, but both cars were totaled and a passenger in the other car sprained her ankle. It just goes to show you it’s more dangerous out on the streets than on the track!

The Lemons organizers took pity on our off track accident, and awarded us the “I got Screwed” prize. Although the white car came in 2nd overall on Saturday and in the top 10 on Sunday, we were honored with the ability to overcome our obstacles.

Pro driver and Internet celebrity, Randy Pobst, punted Mark into a spin when he was driving the white car on Sunday and came over after the race to apologize.

Signing the back of the car was a perfect apology!

Despite Ryan losing his tow vehicle, and Dave getting a shiner from the passenger seat in the accident, we managed to secure a tow of our car and trailer half way home. By Monday night both cars were back in CT, and I was back at work, absolutely exhausted…but it was a good tired!