There’s a good gearhead story around every corner. Recently, while ordering up some parts for a friend of ours down under, I got to talking to Jeremy Boysen at JBautosports about Free Candy Racing, the LeMCar team he started with his friends in Iowa.
Who is Free Candy, how did you come to be involved in these shenanigans, and when did this all start?
Free Candy Racing is a 24 Hours of LeMons/ChumpCar endurance race team. The team is made up of six people located here in Iowa. Chip, Mikey, Jamie, John, Pat, and Jeremy. Everyone on the team is involved in other automotive racing activities, which is how we all met.
Chip had the idea to go LeMons racing back in late-2008/early-2009 and he contacted Mikey and I. From there, we contacted Jamie, John, and Pat, and we formed our team. We then needed a car and purchased a 1989 Honda Civic SI to go racing in for $500 from a freind of Chip’s. It was at the top of the LeMons rules for car budget, but we made it work with minimal expenses – only replacing brakes, tires, and other safety items.
Our first race was in 2009 at Nelson Ledges in Ohio. The race was a true 24hr endurance race and over 130 cars started. We finished in, I believe, 36th place out of the field, which we felt was awesome for our first race.
Solid. So your first outing was a success, then. What were some of the toughest obstacles you guys had to overcome between deciding to go racing and getting to the starting line? What sort of lessons did you learn during the race in terms of vehicle and even strategies?
Yeah, our first outing, we came away quite surprised – 36th out of 100+ – that’s not damn bad for a bunch of cone chasers! We learned a lot from a couple teammates’ spins and a head gasket failure that race. The car underwent some changes in terms of reliability and handling. We needed to keep it as reliable as it came from the factory, yet get every ounce of handling we could out of it.
We’ve had a lot of obstacles to overcome during our racing career, if you want to call it that. The toughest to this point, I would say, is ourselves. We have some great wrench throwers on the team that can also drive incredibly well, but we seem to keep having issues with stupid little team mistakes that cost us that 1st place finish. We have drivers who get to caught up in the moment (myself included) that pass under yellow or we have a failure in the hubs somewhere. When we do get it right as a team, the car seems to let us down. We had a bearing fail in the front left last year at Autobahn that cost us 1st place and set the car on fire, this year at GingerMan, the right hub shattered, sending us into the weeds and again costing us a 1st place finish. We need to just get Lady Luck on our side for a race and I think we’ll be onto something!
The things we have learned from a team standpoint and strategies, well; we like to keep those a secret as that’s the only upper hand we have at this point. We have learned, though, that hubs on the Civic suck, Ebay parts are for hard parking, not racing, and that everyone fibs a bit on their $500 limit.
You’ve got me curious with the team practices and strategies giving you an advantage. This gets me thinking these are more a factor in the results than perhaps the car. Without revealing any of your double super secret practices, could you maybe tell our readers a bit more about how some of the other people you’ve encountered have tried to progress with whatever degrees of success?
The reason I ask this is because – for outsiders like me – the idea is a couple friends get a $500 turd and abuse it at these things. You’re telling me there’s more to it than that, unless you want to DNF and go home.
A lot of us fall victim to the bigger-is-better mentality. It’s probably a side effect of being on the forums, where we see people building forged motors and stand alones for their seldom raced daily drivers. You’ve shared some of the consequences of actually racing a commuter car with minimal race prep, so how have these experiences impacted your perspectives for your other automotive projects? What are your thoughts on form, function, reliability, and value when it comes to performance part selection for the application?
Strategies and how the team performs is a huge part of being successful in LeMmons or ChumpCar. When you think about it you are racing – it may be slower, alleged $500 cars – but it is still racing. You can get hurt or die, and that fire suit you are wearing might just be used. I’ve seen it happen three times now.
The goal of racing in these two series is to have fun while doing it and we have an absolute blast racing with LeMons and Chump. We have a huge Pedobear costume and enjoy the antics LeMons brings. Roaming the paddock at night, watching everyone work on cars, sharing some beers, and being around genuine car people is absolutely amazing!
When it comes down to it though, at the end of the weekend, we’re out to get a win and we have a slow car compared to most of the field, so we have to look outside the car and see what we can do to improve time there as well. Look at any form of professional road racing and ask yourself, “What are they doing and why?”
There are key areas you can make time up on, but people only worry about the car… when they need to look outside of the car to find some time. Sure, you can spend money improving the car, cutting weight, getting 7 more horsepower, but something tells me all of us at this amateur level of racing won’t be able to drive well enough to make that extra 20lbs of weight shaved or that 7hp count for an extra .5 seconds a lap in a 16+ hour long race. Hell, you are in the car for 1.5 hours, if not more, driving, you’re going to get fatigued anyway.
You have to remember you are going to be beating the ever-loving piss out of these cars for 15-16hrs (segmented LeMons race) or 24+ hours (full 24hr LeMons or ChumpCar races) so reliability is key. Each race costs $500-$750 a person by the time you are done, so we all want to get something out of that.
Tons of things can go wrong on a car thats being raced in that time period; cheap Ebay parts just cannot hold up to the abuse, so you are really stuck with making OEM equipment as racey as possible or fabricating your own solutions to keep the money factor down and not get caught for cheating by the judges. Those shiny camber plates, coilovers, headers, intakes, etc., all draw attention to your car and count against your $500 limit.
We go a bit more low key. Heat is your main enemy for reliability, so fight that and you are off to a good start. You also want to maximize the amount of time you are on track; the more time you are not on it, the farther back you drop in the standings. (wink) That is really the biggest key in these types of races.
We have seen people go home with broken cars after 5 laps and that sucks. Hell, Chip and myself tagged along and rented seats on another team’s LeMons adventure to a Colorado race in 2010. We each paid $800 to race on this team, and by the end of the weekend we each only did 5 laps due to all the issues with the car. Talk about depressing. So when it comes to our team and our car, we will do everything we can to be sure the race gets finished or damn near finished anyway.
The honest truth is you can hone your skills as a driver, upgrade brake pads, stainless lines, some DOT4/5 fluid, decent summer tires, and go out and rock the world out of a car worth 3 times more than your own on track and go home with a bigger smile IMHO.
As far as the bigger is better mentality, I’d agree with the side effect of forums or trying to keep up with your “neighbors.” We all see it day in and day out, people buying mad tyte JDM light wheels just to hard park, or that titanium exhaust that will never see a single track day, etc.. The honest truth is you can hone your skills as a driver, upgrade brake pads, stainless lines, some DOT4/5 fluid, decent summer tires, and go out and rock the world out of a car worth 3 times more than your own on track and go home with a bigger smile IMHO. When I or my team picks out parts for our LeMons car, or even our personal ones, I would like to think we all look at how we will use it. Will it help solve a problem I have with the car? Yes…. then do it. If not, then don’t waste the money.
Recently did this with my personal Evo X. The car needed a clutch. After 3 years, 24,000 miles, and tons of track days and autocrosses, it was time for a new one. So I evaluated my situation. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, needed something that would hold up to the abuse I give it, and be reliable for a couple years.
Now, I don’t daily drive the car, I mainly track it and drive to work on nice days. Given these requirements I ended up with a six puck sprung style clutch. Sure, it will suck daily driving (yep confirmed that it sucks BAD), but you know what? It’s going to hold power on those autox starts, grab when I need to put power down at apex, and not break my wallet. New flywheel? Stock one weights 13lbs, Fidanza comes in at 9lbs – yeah, I’ll save that $300 and turn the stock flywheel. The extra money will buy a track day at Road America and something tells me that will make me smile more than a new shiny aluminum disc.
We apply that same logic to our LeMons car. Tricks from drag racing, autocross, HPDE events, and more all roll into one car to make it as reliable, quick, and agile as possible.
Why does this type of racing appeal to you guys?
Why should people pay more attention to it?
How can people learn more about getting started?
This type of racing really apeals to us as it provides what we see as the most seat time racing per dollar possible. Not many other forms of racing out there you can spend $500-600 a weekend and get 4 hours or so of seat time racing wheel to wheel.
People don’t really need to pay attention to this form of racing so to speak, but preofessional drivers have already started. Tony Stewart raced a Chump Car race in 2010. At Gingerman this year, we had some pro top fuel dragster guys racing with us, and Danica Patrick’s father was there running as well. Last year at Road America, for the ALMS race, we were watching the Corvette team work in their paddock spot when Dan Binks (Crew Cheif) came over and pointed at Pat’s 24hr LeMons t-shirt and said, ” Thats the last real form of racing left.” We talked for 10 minutes about LeMons and the team he was on for the LeMons race at Autobahn in 2010. What other sport can you go toe-to-toe with the pros on a level field to some degree? Pretty damn awesome if you ask me. Thats why you should pay attention to LeMons and ChumpCar!
To get a team started, I reccomend hitting up both of the offical websites, reading the rules, joinging their forums, and asking lots of questions. Lots of people even go spectate at one before getting their feet wet. One thing we learned is everyone says they want to join or start a LeMons/ChumpCar team, but few people do it. To find your motivated and like-minded racers take a non-refundable $500 dollar deposit from each interested party and start building the car. With out that it’s hard to get started.
We did this interview a little differently than usual. Can you tell? What do you think?
We’d like to learn more about why people go LeMons/ChumpCar racing and how their teams roll. If you or someone you know would like to tell us about why this type of racing matters and how you got started, leave us a comment or drop us a line.
Press on regardless. Gearheads united.