The 24 Hours of LeMONS Provides Fun For Low-Budget Racers
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Tuesday, May. 13, 2014

The 24 Hours of LeMONS Provides Fun For Low-Budget Racers

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/07/15/59/184SRx.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - DEB WILLIAMS
    Shawn South and three friends rebuilt a 1989 BMW 325i to enter the 24 Hours of LeMONS endurance race for $500 cars.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/07/15/59/wPhQ6.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - DEB WILLIAMS
    Shawn South is the owner and one of the drivers of the car he and three friends built to race in the 24 Hours of LeMONS.

Four friends who play in a Sunday night ice hockey league at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail decided the suggestion by one to form a race team for the 24 Hours of LeMONS sounded too good to ignore.

So Concord-based No Business Racing was born.

“Brian Robusto, our goalie, has been doing this with his family, and when we saw them doing it, it looked like a lot of fun,” said Shawn South, a network engineer for Lowe’s. “Our crew chief is an engineer for Lowe’s, and one of our other drivers is an engineer for Scott Safety in Matthews. Our fourth team member is in construction. Being engineers, we just couldn’t resist building something.”

This isn’t a style of racing familiar to most. It’s endurance racing for $500 cars. The name is a play on the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France.

Each region – South, East, Midwest, West and Gulf – has its own schedule. There also are sprint races at Sonoma, Calif., and the Concours d’LeMons, comprising events in Braselton, Ga., Plymouth, Mich., and Seaside, Calif.

“There are three classes (of cars in the 24 Hours of LeMONS),” said South, a Concord resident and the race vehicle’s owner. “Class C cars, physically, have no business being on a racetrack. To some extent, they can be rolling chicanes out there. For them, it’s seeing how far the car can get before it explodes.

“The Class B cars are the ones that are reasonably well put together but won’t necessarily be the quickest. Maybe they don’t have the horsepower or the gearing to turn the fastest times.

“It’s an interesting mix out there of complete rookies racing alongside sometimes even professional drivers. The makeup of the team can really determine whether a car is a Class B car or a Class A car. Some of the Class A cars can get around a track relatively quickly. They tend to be quite fast, but they also tend to have the potential to blow up pretty quick.”

South, a Houston native, and his friends spent the better part of a year constructing their No Business Racing entry for Class B. They wanted to create a vehicle that had a stock car, NASCAR racing truck feel. So they took a 1989 BMW 325i, stripped it, rebuilt it and equipped it with a Chevy 4.3-liter V-6 engine that they changed from fuel-injection to a carburetor.

“We took the drive train out of it, sold it and essentially got the chassis for free,” South said. “It was a lot easier to put the cage in if we took the roof off, so we started looking at it and decided it didn’t look all that different from an S10. We changed a few body panels, welded a Chevy tailgate to the back of it and cut off the back half.

“We’ve done a fair amount of work to try and hide what it was originally.”

After about a year of working on the vehicle, the team decided to enter the May 3-4 Southern Discomfort at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. South, Robusto and Matt Kirchner were the drivers, and Aaron Cole the crew chief.

“It went pretty good on Saturday, but then late Saturday we had a bracket that holds one of our brake calipers on (break) on us and took us out,” South said. “Unfortunately, that was one part we didn’t have a spare for. The car was running well up until that point. We were having a good time. We’re still working on getting it tuned in.”

The team plans to return to Kershaw for the Sept. 20-21 LeMONS South Fall event.

“Once we get the car running reliable enough for us to where we’re finishing races at Kershaw, we’ll probably start going to some of the other (events) in the region and some of the ones further up north,” South said.

There currently are four events in the South region. In addition to the two at Kershaw, Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., hosts one and Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., the other.

Concord Speedway series ending

Only two race days remain in the spring series on Concord Speedway’s quarter-mile track. The Bandoleros, Legends and Mini Cup will race at 5:30 p.m. May 16, while the Bandoleros and Legends cars will make up their March 29 event 9 a.m. May 17.

The track’s fall series begins Aug. 8.

Grissom 5th in standings

After four races in the 16-event Southern Super Series schedule, Concord resident Kyle Grissom was fifth in the standings, 28 points behind leader Anderson Bowen.

Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at dwilliamscltobs@gmail.com.

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