Evan J. Smith
January 12, 2014
Photos By: Josh Russell

Goin' Green: Day 1

With nine hours on the plate the first day, our plan was to run hard, but be aware of the cars around us and stay out of trouble. Nevertheless, on green, trouble came quick. I was first up and after just a few laps, I got caught wide in a fast kink and spun the car.

I felt like a complete bonehead. I was pissed (at myself) for pushing too much. I didn't want to be "that guy"—but I was. Crap! Spinning, contacting another car, or going "off," could easily damage the car and cost the team time or the entire race. Plus, I now had to take a mandatory trip to see the LeMons officials in the pits. I knew it wouldn't be pretty.

Finishing my spin (a perfect 360, mind you) I dropped Second gear and kept the GT going without losing much momentum. I saw the Black flags and headed in. After receiving my stern talkin' to by the LeMons officials (where I sat in penalty box and felt great shame), I was sent back on track with a much-improved sense of reality. I drove smooth, kept it clean, and even passed a few more cars than passed me.

Next up was sweepstakes winner Jack Wilson, who kept us moving forward, save for the shunt when he was cracked into by a Chevy Chevette. Again, the black flag dropped on us (yes, that means you must pit), even though it clearly wasn't our fault. Mr. Chevette driver even admitted to officials it was his doing, and later came over to beg for our forgiveness. He even told us what the officials said: "What were you thinking trying to pass a Mustang with a Chevette?"

One by one, we cycled our drivers through the car, Zizzo, Emrich, and Bohlander. Bryan and Brian were the fastest pilots. We each drove twice throughout the nine hours. I was about to take over for a third session to finish the day, but when 6-foot, 4-inch Brian Bohlander got out of the car, he inadvertently bent the seat adjuster, locking it in the full-back position. Some say I'm vertically challenged (at 5 feet, 7 inches), so my legs didn't reach the pedals. Unable to fix the seat quickly, we refuled the GT, got Bohlander strapped back into the car, and he double-stinted to get us home.

Due to the random starting order of this type of event (all cars are on track when the race starts, so the lap-one order is based on how you cross the start/finish line once the green flag drops), we started back in the pack and worked our way carefully up to 24th (out of 78 cars). More importantly, we had a strong-running Peak Mustang, and our only maintence was a brake and tire swap. Pleased with our position, we were ready to attack.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Goin' Green: Day 2

Since the Mustang lasted 9 hours (which equated to 212 laps around the 2.1-mile track) we were confident that it could go another 5.5 hours. While every racer wants to win, our goal was to finish the event and maybe score a top 20 position. We saw a lot of teams experience random failures late on Saturday, so we didn't take anything lightly.

Wilson drove first on Sunday and kept it clean. I jumped in after an hour and followed suit. Then one by one, Bryan/TJ/Brian advanced our position place by place before Wilson climbed in for the final nail-biting hour. At one point we cracked the top 20, but another incident (not Wilson's fault) with only a handful of laps to go caused us to pit, and more importantly, it cost us valuable time. Despite getting back on track quickly, we slipped to 21st, where Wilson brought the Peak Mustang home, only one lap behind the next competitor. We completed 349 laps, ran a total of 733 miles, and our final finishing position was P21.

I'm incredibly proud to have been a part of this team. I believe we all felt the same sense of accomplishment, as we ran true for the entire event. We ended the 14.5-hour adventure with a strong Ford Mustang, full stomachs, and the satisfaction of completing the mission. I made new friends, ate like a king, and spent a few hours road-racing a Mustang—what could be better?

For more photos and info on 24 Hours of LeMons racing, check onlite at musclemustangfastfords.com and www.24hoursoflemons.com.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery