What's all this about?
Armed with a team of barbeque and
automotive experts and a 1989 Saab 900
purchased for $400, Team Carbeque is a
unique racing team determined complete the 24 hours
of LeMons... all while making barbeque under the hood.
Find out more: >> Click here to read our mission statement
Still. Awesome. After. Bankruptcy.
Posted by Adam Goral on September 4, 2012, 9:27 pm CST
When we started this whole thing we had but one goal, to be the first race team soley centered on not WINNING, but cooking authentic BBQ on the engine of a race car. After the team was founded and work began, there were a few manifold cooking attempts done in LeMons, but nothing that actually *worked*. I'm happy, proud, and slightly disturbed to report that Team Carbeque came back from Road America successful. Not only in preparing several racks of the finest BBQ you can cook (smoker, pit, or otherwise), but doing so on the engine of a dilapidated non-turbo SAAB 900.
But the weekend didn't start for us on Monday, when the 24 Hours of LeMons Chubba Cheddar Enduro event kicked off, but the Friday before when we drove the Q up in a LeMons parade that nearly caused accidents from people gawking. Before departing, our old partner in crime and friend of CBQ Soggy showed up with the Simca in tow, with a fresh paint livery and exactly 40lbs of unsliced slab bacon. When we started the 900 up, and it settled down to a smooth idle, we knew that this weekend would be like nothing we had ever experienced. The drive up also confirmed that the new (hastily fabricated) rear diffuser wasn't going to fall off...something that I realized might be an issue after departing (and recalling I had not tested it *at all*).
The American LeMans Series was running over the actual weekend, and while that was playing out other LeMons teams slowly started to show up, Team Free Candy, The Tetnus 944, and brightly colored Jetta belonging to the famous Gingerman Teletubbies.
We couldn't help but gawk at the spectacle that is modern day world class endurance racing. Flag girls, carbon fiber, flag girls, 200mph straight away speeds, flag girls...forgot where I was going with this...anyway we partied away in the campground while highly intoxicated people crowded around our cars. The most common phrase uttered around the Carbeque was, "OH! I (my wife, my dad, my cousin, my buddy) had one of these!" , while Soggy gathered sponsors from people passing by encouraging them to sign the Simca for a dollar. Someone eventually gave him a $20 to tape their company's catalog to the side of his car. As I recall, this money went towards alcohol, and a pair of superman underpants.
Flash foward to Monday morning, when we jacked the car up, popped in our fresh set of EBC brake pads, and took the green flag with freshly dry-rubbed racks of ribs warming happily in our insulated box.
Then, about 4 laps in, Dan the pitmaster came into the pits, complaining of something wrong with the engine. It sounded sour and was down on power. It was one of those, "Oh %@#$ here it goes" moments, especially since the junkyard engine we had installed over the break was...well lets call it untested. Then we realized (after a decent electric shock poking around the engine bay) that one of the spark plug wires had popped off the distributer. A little bit of contact bending and some duct tape, and the Carbeque SAAB 900 was back on track, completing lap after lap consistantly around three and a half minutes per.
It kept running and running, and after 3 or 4 hours we had actually gotten to relax a bit, with ribs coming off, being flipped, going on, and being scarfed. Sometime around then we learned something that every media outlet latched onto with giddy excitement, 5 time LeMans winner (that's the ACTUAL full shebang 24 Hours of LeMans in FRANCE) Emanuele Pirro was in the field, with his sons' terrible Porsche 944. They were all sporting his old Audisport driver suits and helmets, so a bit easy to spot when it looked like a team fielding an R10 prototype was lugging fuel jugs to the hot pits with sweat pouring out of their helmets. Imagine Jimmy Page awkwardly trying to push his guitar amps onto stage before playing Madison Square Garden, the irony of the situation was entertaining to say the least. Below is Pirro himself preparing to administer zipties in true LeMons fashion.
Day one completed with nearly no drama, save a spin that let us unload a rack of ribs in the penalty box for our beloved judges, and the almighty head honcho owner of the series Jay Lamm. They tasted their first ribs cautiously, looked up and uttered things like "Oh my god that's incredible", with frantic scarfing soon to follow. Better than Christmas for us.
Day two started with a new addition to our hood, a hastily (and drunkedly) fabricated intake air scoop adding we assume 20-30hp. Running through the stints without any drama, we all sort of looked at each other with a "we're actually doing this right now" look on our faces, as our totally loud ass SAAB went by on the front straight over and over again. Tire pressure was good, oil pressure was good, oil temps nominal, ribs: cooking nicely...the checkered flag dropped at around the same time the awful Lotus Elite barfed its guts all over the front straight in a cataclysmic smokescreen. Going past the marshal watching those checkers wave I realized we had fully completed our ill-advised mission.
During the award ceremonies we watched and happily munched down/handed out our final stint ribs, cheering, celebrating, cheering some more...and everyone that wasn't driving home was already well over the legal limit. Took about....10min for that to happen.
The results are finally in! Even though our non-turbo SAAB was running 10-25sec off pace from the faster cars, we had finished 4th in class B, and 17th overall. There were 51 cars total in the field making it a fairly open track, but something we realized was that there were around 30 cars in class A, meaning we had even beat a fair number of cars that completely outclassed us. One in particular, being driven by Mr. LeMans champion Emanuele Pirro. (begin LOW N SLOW chant)
That's right, we took a SAAB 900 to Road America, fielded it against an endurance racing LEGEND (and one of our heroes) in a Porsche no less, ran for nearly 15hrs straight, and beat them handily! Their 944 came in 25th place, and the family flew all the way from Italy to run this race. We simply drove our race car up from Illinois. On top of it, they weren't even cooking world class authentic BBQ. Damn we're good! Plans for the future include something we frankly never really considered, and that's finding an effective way to add power while maintaining our class B status. Now that the car seems what we'd consider "sorted" we think its possible to pull off a class B win with faster pit stops and longer stints. Open to suggestions on cheap power mods, saabies, let us know...but I think our super sekrit plans may have something in the works.
Next on the menu, for me at least, is crewing for Soggy (and his Simca) when they run at Autobahn, then back to Road America to help Team Failcar get their SAAB running around the place as well as us. Hah! The Carbeque will be back next season, until then check back here sometimes as I'll keep updating the site with juicy LeMons news and other stuff we think is fun. Until next time, keep it low, keep it slow.
Oh yea, Launcha Splatos, the FIAT X1/9 with a Alfa Romeo V6 engine swap won. They were fast. They passed us a lot.