Around this time last year one of my coworkers approached me and asked if I’d be interested in starting up a Lemons team. Within a few weeks we’d rounded up about three more and set about trying to find a car. We all had different requirements, some wanted reliability, easy to find spares, robust aftermarket support. Others wanted to do something different and obscure. Myself, I told them I’d quit if we ended up with a FWD racecar. Due to one of our team mates having ethical issues with simply lying about the value of the car, the only thing we could find that met most of our criteria was this SN95 Mustang

Truly a pile, but it ran and drove, so we proceeded to strip it, cage it and get it ready for it’s first race. Sticking to the $500 rule to a T, we did not have anything left for upgrades, and due to time constraints we showed up to our first race with an entirely untested Delorean themed sn95

It was during check in where my teammates realized just how loose the “spending cap” was (one of the other cars was a pristine C3 Corvette). We got about an hour in to the race before the car came back in, knocking loudly with the temp gauge pegged. Turns out, the headgaskets in our 25 year old motor just couldn’t hold themselves together racing. We ended up blowing out the coolant passage holes in 5/6 cylinders. Not having the tools or parts needed to do a headgasket job on site, and expecting that the heat from that first session had warped a few things, we decided to keep on sending it out until it died.

The above video was taken on a hot day with a hot engine. I have honestly never seen a head gasket go so badly, but it still ran so we decided to keep racing. We found that we could get about 5 hot laps in before the coolant gauge sat wholly buried in the red, on the 6th lap the bottom end would start knocking pretty bad and we’d bring it in. After about 25 minutes we could pour in more water and repeat the whole thing. At the end of the day we decided to leave it out and see how long it could go. Turns out about 8 laps before it started to lose noticeable power. The engine finally seized in the pits after that session and we decided to call it for the race and build something better for the next one.

Missing from the above video, the sizzling sound of oil boiling inside the block.

We had a talk over dinner and decided to double down on the platform, A couple weeks later we’d bought this


Well, this post is already a little longer than I intended for it to be. Tune in next time to read about how we swapped in a 302 that we didn’t know had low oil pressure until a week before the next race.