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Question Of The Day: What Used-Car Lot Refugee Would Make A Great One-Model Racing Series?


Question Of The Day: What Used-Car Lot Refugee Would Make A Great One-Model Racing Series?

Used car lots plague the landscape across the country. I’m not talking the ones ran by dealerships…I’m talking “Honest Mike’s Used Car Emporium! No job? No credit? No way in hell you can pay for this unloved pile of rust? NO PROBLEM! Come in today!!” It’s bad enough that driving by them makes me think of the stuffed toy bin at a secondhand store…”Why doesn’t anybody want me?” sniffed the 1992 Pontiac Trans Sport…but they occasionally give me a thought: Every lot usually has the same six cars sitting there, waiting for their second, third, fifteenth home. Wouldn’t there be a better use for a 2006 Trailblazer with 250,000 miles and a permanent “Check Engine” light? I think so.

ford taurus
The thought came up one night as I was pawing through 24 Hours of Lemons coverage. Take the basic premise of LeMons – A cheap crapbox racing series – but make it model-specific. Instead of a field of NASCAR Tauruses, how about fourteen 1996-2007 Ford Tauruses on the track at Talladega with a bunch of over-eager fans behind the wheel? Winner…or last car running, whatever…gets a chance to meet Danica, Dale, Jr. and the opportunity to kick Jeff Gordon right in the beanbag. Get every 3.8L supercharged GM W-body and H-body ever made that’s still languishing on dealer lots, and have the bracket race to end all bracket races. Winner gets to strap into the passenger seat of Big Chief’s GTO and scream like a frightened little girl in a haunted house when he turns the Pontiac loose. Innundated with Ford Explorers? The Death Valley 1000: winner gets an all-expenses-paid week-long vacation in Las Vegas if your Explorer makes the distance from Yermo, California, on an “as the crow flies” route. Vegetation, searing heat, sand and snakes be damned. What car would you throw under the proverbial bus use as a race car, and what kind of racing would you subject it to? A young driver’s series using nothing but Buick LeSabres and LaCrosses? A demolition derby series of nothing but trucks and SUVs from the 2000s with stupid 20″ wheels on them? “Every Dodge Stratus to a crusher!” isn’t a racing series, guys…

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14 thoughts on “Question Of The Day: What Used-Car Lot Refugee Would Make A Great One-Model Racing Series?

  1. Matt Cramer

    I’m thinking round up all the Mitsubishi Mirages or Nissan Versas and put them on a go-kart track. This could either work as a time attack format, running one at a time, or a wheel to wheel that borders on demolition derby. Tiny economy cars may be miserable for everyday use, but they’re the perfect car to drive like you don’t care if they stay rubber side down.

  2. David

    There are several good options…
    1: Ford Ranger (already popular with off-roaders)
    2: Ford Taurus
    3: Ford Explorer
    4: Nissan Frontier
    5: Nissan Rogue
    6: Jeep Cherokee
    7: Chevy Cavilers/Pontiac Sunfires
    8: Honda Civic/Accord
    9: Toyota Tacoma
    10: Mazda 3
    Those are the ones off the top of my head.

    1. Matt Cramer

      There’s one message board I’m on where setting up Accords for track day use has started to become a thing. Throw some mods at the K-series mill, some coil overs, a bit of weight reduction, and it’s surprisingly competent on a road course.

      Mazda 3s would be another one I could see being made into a good spec racer series without a hint of irony. I’ve got a couple co-workers who road race the Mazda 3’s ancestors (MX3, 323, Protege, etc) as it is. Two of them have already decided to put Mazda 3 motors in theirs to get a bit more power reliably.

  3. Just Gary

    Agree with David’s list above ^^^^^
    but would add Chevy S-10’s & S-10-chassis Blazers and 5.0 Mustangs. All are fairly common, simple, and have lots of used aftermarket performance parts availability.

    Gotta be wheel-to-wheel racing and for extra excitement, add a Lemans-style start. 🙂

  4. :Piston Pete

    It\’s already been done. While not formally declared model specific, the rules at the Indianapolis Speedrome have for years so favored 2nd gen Novas (and more recently, any G-body) for the Stock class and tube frames based on 1st and 2nd gen Camaro front clips for the Pro Stock class that it is nearly impossible to find a decent example of either anywhere in Central Indiana.
    I\’m sure there are dozens of tracks all over the country where this is also true. Seemed harmless at the time I guess, but sure would be nice to have these cars on the the street now instead of coming back to us in the form of tuna cans. Don\’t forget to recycle.

    1. Matt Cramer

      While they don’t seem to infest buy here, pay here lots, I’m a bit surprised that we don’t see more C4 Corvettes cut up and made into track toys. I autocrossed one with the Z51 package a couple times – the limiting factor was definitely a loose nut behind the wheel and not anything else on the car (except for tires with a high enough treadwear rating to survive more than a few months of commuter duty).

  5. 75Duster

    Toyota Prius as car crushing material for the stadium monster truck series.
    (Then I’d actually pay to see it!)

  6. BeaverMartin

    Minivans! No seriously here me out. By the time the wife and kids are done there is no residual value left. Every year millions of dads have to figure out how to dispose of the old Caravan while mom drives off in her new brand x nondescript CUV. We can’t afford a race car because we’re paying for college and weddings or even worse our kids came back home. Formula MV isn’t the race series we want, it’s the race series we need.

  7. JN

    The 200k mile Infiniti G35 sedan touring car championship! A PT Cruiser specific offroad gambler style race maybe? Dajiban style racing with Honda Odyssey mini vans. There are so many good options.

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