This is not my fault you see… a good friend of many years decided to build a lemons car to race in the BFE Grand Prix lemons race held at High Plains Raceway. I had decided that I had too many other things to waste my time with. Like Jeeping, Working for a living, Fixing other peoples cars or Jeeps, Dabbling in Triathlon, Living the joys of herniated back discs, Keeping my own fleet running and now I’ve been hooked on this lemons racing thing. Seems my buddy BOB had a team and managed to build 90% of a functioning $500 1965 Rambler Marlin racecar before the three other participant/builder/drivers decided to lose interest three weeks before the race. Conspicuously absent was any form of wiring to make the swapped in TBI 454 chevy run. SO….. Bob calls me dangling the proverbial carrot…… sez he, “I need drivers and I need someone to wire the fuel injection to run (somehow he figured I could) so wire it and you drive!” By this time there were about 6 days before the car had to appear at tech inspection – it has no brakes, exhaust, firewall, wiring, gauges, paint, seat, safety equipment or most of the stuff you would think of as important to race a car. Upside: Bob is an extremely driven and talented craftsman in many fields with a knack for pulling off the impossible with no resources and both of us are the types that don’t really get into stride until the absolute last possible millisecond. Fast forward 6 days and we have a running racecar and two more teamates, Johnny and Scotty, who were exceedingly helpful in the last minute prep. With only a little bribery and a few seat belt attachment mods, Bob got the car through tech in time. Of course I had to work on Friday but I got the RV out there before dark and got my helmet and gear tech-approved.
OK so now we are set to race- but a new problem has arisen…. another good friend has his race car there but it still needs (in the words of Jay Lamm ) about another 3 weeks of solid work…. oh well who needs sleep anyway? The tech judges accepted the generous bribe to tech in the morning after the car obviously failed to even be a motor vehicle. Its a french car- a Renault 4cv probably one of about 36 or so that anyone even bothered to ship to the states in 1956 and probably the rarest (but not necessarily valuable) car to ever race in lemons! We jump in and help. I build double flared brake lines for the front and part of the rear brakes and the hydraulic clutch line too. At one point literally hundreds of new and used brake and hydraulic fittings, copper washers, bubble flare line, inverted flare line were spread over the fenders and a nearby table. Others are welding on other vital bits and pieces like firewall and fenders. Finally at some time in the dark part of morning we rest……for a while…. wake up, build some food-like substances to eat and begin the thrash anew.
The Marlin starts and runs fantastically, the big block chevy making a much deeper rumbling than the engines of the competition most of which were at least half the size of the giant lump of iron we had rumbling away. For a car built of the random collection of parts that resulted in a racecar the thing drives like a caddy! Well actually, a lot like a full size coupe deville shorn of about 3450 or so pounds! What a HOOT! This thing is a blast to drive and actually turned in a best lap of about 2.30 on a 2 1/2 mile twisty track. GPS verified speed at the end of the straightaway was 100 mph…… wow…Oil pressure issues kept bugging us keeping us from running it as hard as we wanted as it wanted some cool down time before the pressure would come back…..the last 10 laps to the finish had NO oil pressure….Gauge ZERO…ZILCH…NADA.. Red LED warning lite installed as a backup plan… Glowing with undiminished intensity…. Lifters clattering….. All the way to the checkers! AND THE DAMN THING WOULD NOT DIE! For our trouble we even won the organizers choice award with $500! And our bud with the Renault? He finished too! And took home the best trophy at the the whole race- the Index of Effluency award with it’s $1501 prize! ….I sure hope Bob finds some other drivers for next time……cause im buildin’ my own….Probably a 72 Vega with a 283 Smallblock just for old times sake……DAMN YOU JAY! MORE INFO HERE. Look for pics of a swiss cheese 65 Rambler Its not hard to miss!