Remember the movie Cannonball Run? You know, back when Burt Reynolds had a full head of hair. Well, when I was a wee lad and I saw that movie in the theatre, the image of those two ladies with the huge racks piloting their Lamborghini Countach down the freeway and tagging the 55 MPH speed limit signs changed my life forever.
Fast forward a couple of decades, ole Burt’s hair line has receded but my yearning for an all out open road race adventure has not. Roll tape on the Beetleball. It’s just like the Cannonball, only instead of Lamborghinis it’s Volkswagen Bugs. Trust me, it’s hard to get a speeding ticket in an air cooled Volkswagen, well, at least in the one I was driving anyway.
Photos by Jeff Balliet[ASK Photography]
Most of us can’t wait to get to our next track day, autocross or drag race. But sometimes, when our racecar has a connecting rod oddly hanging out of the oil pan, we are far, far from our next competitive event. Never fear, you don’t need a racecar to race head to head against your buddies. You just need to get to Fast Lap.
Fast Lap Indoor Kart Racing is a place where you can show up, pay your money, and race like crazy on a quarter mile twisty race track in gas powered go-karts. No trailering a race car, no all-nighter before the race fixing the motor, and no fresh set of tires required. You arrive, you race, you show everyone why you should be a sponsored driver in the Speed GT series, and then you go home. Real speed and victory could be yours for less than you would pay for the next Project Gotham Racing video game.
You’ve read about it in all the car magazines and you’ve been to the 24 Hours of LeMons website a hundred times, obsessively pouring over the rules. It’s the endurance road racing series for $500 cars. You’ve commented on numerous forums that “someday, if you can get a team together, you want to do LeMons.” You even went as far as e-mailing the Chief Perpetrator of LeMons, Jay Lamm, and bothered him with some stupid question regarding the current market price of your Mom’s 2001 Camry (he told you to read the rules again, the car isn’t worth $500). Stop blowing bench racing smoke up everybody’s ass. Find a piece of crap car (that runs unlike a piece of crap), make four new friends (one with money, one who can weld, one who can fix motors and one who has a car trailer) and get yourself to the biggest thing happening in the world of motorsports. The 24 Hours of LeMons is absolutely the coolest thing you will ever do in an automobile (excluding, of course, things that happen in the backseats of automobiles).
You want to do some sort of racing but you don’t have a bunch of money, a high horsepower great handling sports car, or even a helmet. You’re in luck. Borrow Dad’s pick-up and head to your local drag strip for some E.T. Bracket Racing. Slow cars have an equal chance to win against fast cars based on a dial-in system where the start of the race for the faster car is delayed. At the end of the straight line quarter mile track both cars should cross the finish line within a few thousandths of a second of one another. First one across the line wins. If anyone sandbags and goes faster than they should, they are disqualified for breaking out of their bracket. Driver skill and consistency triumphs over big cash big horsepower machines. I watched a dude in a rented Ford Focus with an automatic beat a guy in a Z06 Corvette. How about that for some bragging rights?
“Slot car racing?” you ask. Yup. I’m not talking about that weak ass Tyco set that ran on six C batteries that you found under the Christmas tree when you were a kid. I’m talking about blistering fast slot cars on technical 8 lane tracks with race position telemetry and lap times as you race head to head against other racing fanatics.
What makes slot car racing really fun is the fact that you are actually racing. This is door to door passing, full contact competition. Driving one of these bad ass fast slot cars around a track is fun, but going into turn 1 with eight other guys is what gets your blood pumping and your competitive juices cranking. And the best news is you can own these racing emotions for less than you paid for that billet aluminum, glow in the dark, skull shaped shift knob you installed. You know the one that has the hidden nitrous button that you have hooked up to… well nothing.
So you want to get into motorsports, but the only thing in your driveway is grandma’s 1976 Buick stationwagon. You’re in luck. Knock the windows out of that bitch (the stationwagon, not your grandma) and head to the demolition derby.
Not only will you get the chance to cut off the exhaust system and enjoy the kick ass melody of an uncapped V-8, but you’ll get the chance for motorsports victory in front of a fairground stadium filled with drunk, derby fans. That’s right, you’ll be vying for glory in front of a paying and cheering crowd, try to find that at an autocross.