Cool is for hippies. We at The Corporate Machine Corporation do not adhere to "cool" or any standards therein. After working a low-paying government job for years, we are tired, broken, soulless and disgruntled. Our starched short-sleeve shirts and coffee-stained striped ties have been worn to the end of their useful rotation, and its time to retire them. Decades under flickering lights and windowless offices eventually drove us to insanity. We take smiling as a sign of aggression and will react accordingly. The cesspool of regulations and bureaucratic nonsense has worn our nerves thin, but toughened them like steel. Wading through rush hour traffic leading into the Pentagon has prepared us well for endurance racing, hardening our nerves and perfecting our passive aggressive driving skills.
Update: TCMC FINISHES AND WINS THE 'PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD' AT LeMONS SOUTH!!!
Race Weekend! LeMons South: July 24th-27th, 2008
On Friday night, we picked up the trailer and loaded up the cars with everything we thought we might need for the weekend. We finished around 11pm or later, and planned to meet back at the house at 4am to leave by 4:30. Everything just barely fit into the truck and the Prius, and it was a good thing we had a vacuous Caddy to stuff other things into as well! We met our goal of leaving at 4:30ish, and the trip to SC was quick and uneventful, aside from getting strange looks from other Cadillac drivers on the road.
We arrived at the Carolina Motorsports Park racetrack in Kershaw SC around noon, offloaded the car, and picked a prime paddock spot close to the action and to LeMons HQ. We set everything up and checked the Caddy to ensure it had made the trip safely- it had. We felt excited and ready to go! Because we were so early, we were one of the first cars through tech, though the caddy failed initially due to seatback wiggling. We returned to the paddock, discussing what to do to resolve this critical issue.
Several solutions were suggested, but in the end, we wound up using a jack from neighboring paddock- purchased for $15- and were able to adjust the seatback position. Our creative and quick thinking amused and impressed the judges. We re-entered tech and passed- thanks to our friends at the Kudzu Kommandos team who sold us the jack! (We were struck by how friendly and helpful everyone was at the track, and by how everyone immediately loved the Cadillac and kept checking in on it throughout the weekend. We also enjoyed the jocular atmosphere at LeMons- Jay and the judges would regularly stop by and joke around with the teams, and the signage and black flag punishments were all amusing and in good humor.)
Before reentering tech, we taped a dollar bill under the hood to bribe the judges, and handed them a TPS report to fill out, and gave them our corporate mission statement. Everyone enjoyed how into our theme and branding we were, and we kept this up all weekend long- always wearing our short-sleeved white shirts and ties; the grungier the better! The judges from Jalopnik proceeded to play Good Cop/Bad Cop, with one disbelieving the factory strut brace. The judges were clearly inebriated and had on cockeyed wigs and robes, complete with gavels. There were nuts and seeds inside the caddy's engine, and the judges made fun of it. Then the poli-sci major judge drilled us on our Goldwater/Nixon political memorabilia. All clearly appreciated our theme and costuming efforts. After a hard afternoon's work, we then shotgunned beers on the hoodpins of the caddy with a neighboring team. (the CRX people- Obamanation) Then we went swimming back at the hotel and ordered pizza... and were in bed by 9:30.
Saturday morning we got up and got over to the racetrack by 9. The short guys won the coin toss to determine who would drive first, and then we all drew zip ties to determine driving order. The order was Mark, Matt, Jason, Alex, Eric, Zack for the entire weekend. After that, Mark got suited up and we fired up the caddy and got in queue. Mark went out on the track, spent the first 30 minutes under a yellow flag, spending that time first studying lines and then getting bored out of his mind. He spent 80% of the caddy's brakes in the next 20 minutes, flying around the track in the Cadillac- much to the chagrin and surprise of our competitors. The engine was running strong and kicking ass, and straight line speed was really impressive. Mark had some good contact with the Prelude during that first run. The e30 BMWs and spec Miatas were kicking everyone's ass and cutting up the track.
Then it was Matt's turn; the driver change in the hot pits took about 5 minutes. We had good temps on the driver flip- everything looked great. Matt went out and the caddy was hauling ass, felt really good... he barely made it around twice before the car overheated. He then lost brakes and power steering through the chicane. After almost hitting a wall, the caddy died. The tow-truck came and pushed the car back into our paddock. Immediately upon its return we restarted it and then it died again. Realizing we needed a new thermostat, we sent a team member on a thermostat-seeking mission. Matt went back out and the car died again on the far backside; the tow-truck came to get him and chained him on, brought him to the pit entrance, and we pushed the caddy back to the paddock from there. We got the new thermostat and put it in.
Jason was next. His parting words were "Holy shit, I'm driving a racecar!!!" The car was really solid on the straights, and we were confidant we'd fixed the thermostat problem. The car had plenty of time to cool down before Jason got in, and it was eating up the track.
When Alex took over, the brakes went to lunch. He barely made it a lap before the car "shit the bed" and he had to come back in. We knew the brakes were bad, and told Eric to take it easy on the brakes for his next turn. Eric was later told by other drivers that his brakes were sparking the whole run. Halfway through Eric's session, we got fresh brake pads for the first time during the event. Eric came in at 22 minutes because he thought the walkie-talkie said "brake pads"- we sent him back out. When Eric came back after 30 minutes, there was oil all over the inside of the hood, and we realized it was power steering fluid. Before Eric's turn, we had tested pressures and rotated the tires from front to back.
We put the new brake pads in before Zack's first run. Zack had some contact on the track, and the caddy was running well again. Zack was posting 1:31 lap times very consistently.
Zack came back, and we pulled the hood, made guards, cooled it down, and poured water on the radiator. We cut up some milk jugs and fashioned shields for the distributor and power steering reservoir out of them. Then Mark got the car and had some contact with team Punisher and their converted LT1 reclaimed cop car. Mark turned in consistent times - the best time that day from TCMC was Mark's 1:15 lap. The brakes felt like they were fading a little by the end of the session, though Mark still felt he had control over the speed of the car. Mark said the brakes were hot and complained about them, but he's a huge whiner so we sort of let that pass. Other drivers later said they saw sparks as he finished his time on the track.
Then Matt changed quickly into the driver position- engine temps under the hood were great. Matt took off and had some incidental contact with two BMWs. He was picking up places and it was going pretty well. The brakes started fading out on him and he was having to take it easy toward the end of the session. Coming around, he lost half the brake system, and then went pedal to the floor... other drivers and spectators reported seeing flames shooting out of the wheels of the car. Suddenly, the brakes were totally ineffective. Matt pulled off the track and into the hot pit area and the fireman was yelling at him. Jason and Lindsay ran up to see flames in the front wheel wells- and a fireman made Matt get out of the car. Everyone arrived and watched the flames, finally someone told the fireman to put out the fire. He just stuck the nozzle through a rust hole to put the fire out in the wheel well. As irritating and frustrating as it was to be pushing the car back, we got props and ovations for being the first car to catch fire. We drew lots of spectators! We got the car back to the pit, pulled it apart, and found the calipers fused to the brake pads.
We took a shot in the dark and sent a team to Napa and Advance Autoparts (Kershaw County is desolate and it is difficult to find a business that is both open during normal hours and doesn't have boards over the windows) for calipers, rotars, pads and bolts. They found the parts and brought them back. We made friends with a Road and Track photographer who pointed his Mercedes' headlights our way so we could see to work. We did a late-night fix and put the calipers and pads on. We sacrificed cosmetics and removed the headlights, punched holes through the wheel wells, and saws-all'd the ends off the bumper to increase air to the brakes. We drove around the paddock with a snakelight as a headlight. Cheering ensued from the other teams when they saw the caddy was up and running again. We got candy from the Quattro Libre's piņata. After getting yelled at by security, we parked the car and went back to the hotel, falling asleep by 1am.
Sunday morning we woke up exhausted at 5am and put our filthy outfits back on, ties and all. We looked haggard. Jason made "shants" out of his pants to battle the quickly-rising South Carolina heat. Jason had the first and fastest laps of the day, pulling a 1:13 lap time! He rocked the chicane. The car was wicked strong, and Jason's confidence went through the roof (read: hubris) as he blew by the PT Cruiser. The situation on the track went from careful driving to second-day-kamakaze mode. Jason exited turn 14, came down the main straight and tagged the Mercedes 300 diesel, and took it conservatively after spinning him off the track, worried we'd be black-flagged. The Camo Geo had spun off going into turn 1, and Jason was behind RX7 (chop top); it spun out, resulting in a head-on collision. Jason went around on the grass and sped by the 3-4 car pileup crash in turn 1 (later they complained that they were pulling caddy parts out of their fenders. They brought parts back to Jason, and referred to it as the Mazallac). Things were pretty steady after that, performance was good. Came to a yellow flag, made another lap, pitted, and then passed to Alex. Sometime in the morning, Phil the Jalopnik guy came over and was talking to us and we offered him a shot at driving the car (after he offhandedly begged to drive it). We told him to come back at 2pm.
Alex's run was steady and uneventful. He was out almost 45 minutes, and the car was running awesome. When Alex's yellow flags turned to green, he noticed some transmission issues. Alex came in and we sent him back out, thinking the problem was not a big issue.
Eric took over and noticed some transmission problems after 20 minutes. Shifting stopped, and the engine was cutting out. We iced stuff down and rotated tires, as front tire needed replacing. Eric did one more lap before "church break" at 11am. With an hour to cool down before Zack raced, the car was in good shape.
Then we went to see the People's Curse Award with the nom-nom machine. The fiesta hat BMW got crushed. It was awesome. Enough said.
Zack got the car and took it easy the first lap, and the second lap Zack decided to punish the other cars. He saw the PT Cruiser and focused on him, trying to hit him as often as possible- he'd pass, brake in front of him, make him loose control, etc. The guy couldn't get past Zack. Then Zack took his frustrations out on an RX7. He also had a drag race with an Accord, who skidded and spun out in the field. So the team was pumped- the caddy was wasting people left and right. Shifting got sluggish at the end...
Mark went back out. The car ran great the first half, and went shitty the second half. Mark stuck the e30 on the back straight as he snuck up on the left to cut Mark off in the chicane line- the BMW's throttle cable got stuck as it bounced off the Caddy and ended up running into the chicane tire wall at full throttle. Then there was a yellow flag and Mark started having severe transmission problems, at 50% power. He brought it back in and pitted it. We dumped lots of water down the hood. Matt took it out and had an awesome run for about 15 minutes, had contact with another beamer who tore the tailfin off. Alongside the PT Cruiser he had side contact. He traded paint with the bomber Olds. Matt radioed to tell us there wasn't a car out there as fast as the caddy, and then promptly got passed. The car was performing really well and Matt was really excited.
Then everything went Kershaw (read: south). Matt lots pretty much everything. We cooled it down again, got Phil in the car. We nursed the overheat- and decided to let it cool down between laps. We kept icing it and sent Phil off; he promptly made a right turn onto the track (should have been a left). (Handed the haggared caddy over to Phil, pretty sure it would be the end of it). Phil got about 6 laps into it and had had enough- he skidded around a little and found the car to be rather dramatic. The car gave out on him, he brought it back and thanked us for the ride. We let it rest for awhile and it cooled down.
Next was Jason's turn, it was good for a third of a lap. Alex drove it for a few laps, and came back. Then we had an hour left in the whole event and we just wanted to finish. So we broke the windshield with a chunk of rollcage pipe, tore the windshield wipers off, took the spray hoses and reconfigured them to spray water onto the radiator with hopes of keeping it cool enough to run. We told Eric to hold the washerfluid button down to cool the car. The car performed really well with this system, and he stayed in the car until the end of the race, which was supposed to commence at 3:30. The course went under double yellow, as cars were exploding everywhere during this time. Finally the course went green, almost ten minutes after it was sent to end. The caddy's pace did not increase, but we ran a couple laps and the car crossed the finish line under its own power! Eric was a trooper, taking the car around and around at an average speed of 20 boring miles per hour. It should be noted that many teams stopped cheering for their own car and started cheering for the Cadillac.
Coming into the pits, Eric was pushing the BMW into the pits with the caddy- the same car that Mark had put into the tirewall only hours before (it had conked out in the pitlane). We went back to the paddock and had a celebratory beer. After the race, we were taking some pictures, and decided to sit on the car for photos. Matt sat on the windshield and broke through it, getting a million little pieces of auto glass stuck in his butt, despite Lindsay having helpfully expressly recommended that no one sit on the windshield.
Then we went to the award session. Jay announced the People's Choice Award and it was us! Our prize was 10,000 nickels, which weigh more than you would think; roughly the weight of a pygmy hippopotamus, and just as cumbersome to carry. Jay said we took more metal off our car than any other group, and were actually really nice guys as well. We got a great trophy shaped like a lemon, plus the obvious eternal glory and fame. And those nickels.
Then we went back and did everything we've ever wanted to do to a car- jumping on it, breaking its windshield, kicking it, etc- all while drinking beer and smoking cigars. We dismantled everything we'd want to save, and then loaded it up with its own junk and drove it to the graveyard, where Jason took it for a wild spin before bringing it to its final resting place. He did some reverse donuts by the nom-nom machine. He ran over the caddy's own discarded parts to smash into another car. He hit the hood and ran it into the pile of discarded cars, turned off the ignition, and stepped out, still smoking his cigar.
We packed everything up, and left. Wow, was that awesome. Thanks to Jay and the LeMons staff that made it look effortless, though we know better. Thanks to the other racers for putting up with our fat-ass car on the track. And thanks to all the awesome people we met this weekend.
Jalopnik's TCMC Photos
Video of the Carnage... More to Come!
Pres. of Managing Oversight Management
Holding various licenses in air and on land, Vroom now rots behind a Formica desk, diligently testing bandwidth limits for the DoD. Matt will ensure that opposing teams' cars do not race again.
General Technical Specialist
Weekdays, Hoffman crawls around submarines, poking missiles with a stick. On weekends he low-sides motorcycles at Summit Point. He can usually be found sleeping on your couch.
Company-Wide Division Manager
Bagden has a car that refuses to stick to the road, it also puts down 450 whp. This mysterious situation is currently under investigation by VDOT, NHSTA and MythBusters.
Refuse Movement and Dispersal Advisor
Learned how to drive from Grand Theft Auto and Rad Racer. Kevit may or may not show up, he is super flakey. TBD.
Government Productivity Consultant
Broken or not, Stutzman will try to weld it and spray it with Rustoleum. Aesthetics be damned! As a heavy diesel mechanic this gasoline engine will perplex him. Come and see his head implode.
Informative Information Redacter
Using skills developed during covert operations for DHS he exfiltrated his house, now this new father is helping give birth to man's ultimate creation!
Advanced Marketing Marketer
Impressed and drawn to loud and obnoxious things, Clark began her interest in motor sports by helping rebuild a 'murican V-twin engine. Now she is roped in and we're making her work.
Hydration Control Specialist
An expert on all things potable, we brought Alli along to ensure the team got enough fluids in the hot Carolina sun. Alli was blocked from her duties on Sunday, as Kershaw County was unexpectedly arid (read: dry).
Midgrade Quality Control Analyst
Moyer will fit in an overhead compartment so we are bringing her as a spare for Lindsay, in case she breaks down. She handles the tube socks full of change used to buy parts.
Convoy Skateboards is based Arlington, VA and recently became our first official sponsor!
Official Website of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Funny and informative, what more could you ask for? Click the image to visit site.
This links to additional images from our journey to LeMons South from Zack's Flickr album. Click the image to visit site.
Coverage of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Even though Jalopnik will most likely be fielding some competition against us, we'll give them a shout-out. We'll always love Jalopnik, no matter how hard they hit us. Click the image to visit site.
Chassis Engineering produced our custom rollcage setup quickly and inexpensively. They are Manufacturers and Distributors of Pro Quality Chassis, Ladder Bars, Suspension, Driveline and Accessories for race cars.