The 24 Hours Of LeMons Was A Wet, Miserable Time And I Loved It

What do you do when you have a family emergency the week before a 24 Hours of LeMons race, and your folks tell you to do the race anyway? You race the car, that's what.

I only had a short list of about six items I had left to do on the car, so with a couple weeks left to go, everything was looking like a piece of cake. My Porsche 944, Der Porschelump, survived the frigid LeMons race at Eagles Canyon back in March, survived a track day at Texas World Speedway, and flopped around for numerous hours on Harris Hill.

I'd gotten new harnesses that wouldn't get stuck in the side holes of my seat quite so badly and new, lower, meatier sliders to replace the ones that broke on us at Eagles Canyon. Plus, I ordered new numbers and backing plates that would hopefully stay on the car this time. The kill switch didn't work now that we'd swapped out a faulty alternator and something in the fuel filler neck kept it me from being able to dump fuel in as fast as usual, but those were the only known mechanical gremlins I knew that were left to fix on the car.

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Everything was looking easy peasy until my dad went in for eye surgery on a detached retina. This isn't the first time he's had a detached retina, so I wasn't too worried about it. The vitreous
material in your eyeball tends to shrink as you grow older, so over time, that can pull away your retina from the back of your eye. Generally, recovery time from these kinds of surgeries isn't too bad.

These are some of the joys of aging that you start to learn about when your parents get older.

Complicating matters was the fact that my mom is in a wheelchair from a spinal injury, and my dad is usually the one who helps her with many daily tasks. I needed to wrap up a couple to-do items on the 944 before I left, but I planned to visit my folks the next day to make sure everything was going fine. Eye surgery usually comes with "don't lift anything or your eyeball will explode" type warnings, so I figured there might be a few hurdles when it came to taking care of Mom. I'd stay a couple days, make sure everything was going to work out, and come home in plenty of time to wrap up the LeMon.

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Then my dad had a stroke. We didn't know it was a stroke yet, but it was a stroke.

It started with Dad being unable to get out of Mom's van the day after his eye surgery. They were heading to his eye doctor to remove the bandage for his eye when things went downhill fast. The doctor had to come out to the van to look at the bandage and assess the situation.

Lots of panic. Mom drove straight to the ER. Dad back in the hospital. More panic.

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Drop everything. Go to see parents. Leave a list of race car nuisances to fix with folks who'll be in town. Arrange for teammates to test out the car if they want at the track where it lives. Fine. That works. That will have to work.

This was another minor stroke like he'd had before, but the combination of having a couple strokes before and having a healing eye that's out of service meant that Dad was pretty disoriented. He was struggling with names and finding it difficult to put things he wanted to say into words. Mom was also pretty shaken from it all, not knowing how long he'd be in the hospital or who she could call on for help with things while he was there.

Worse yet, they didn't figure out the cause of this latest round of confusion for a while. They finally figured out that a stroke had happened after a day or so of various tests.

So, I was there. Hospitals make me cringe in a way that nothing else really does. The smell is bad. The thought of being surrounded by terrible things that can happen to you is even worse.

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I tried to find anything that could distract me from where I was: Puffalumps, ice cream, any visitors who'd drop in, trying to find all the outdoor spaces in the premises. I snuck in some work whenever I could, even though I was generally too busy taking care of my parents to get much done. Work was nice. Work had race cars. Thankfully, even the news of drivers' recoveries was positive, making it a nice break. Hey, this guy hit his head against a tractor at speed and is still recovering, slowly but surely. Modern medicine is swell. This blood clot should be fine.

Realizing that you're suddenly the most able-bodied, self-reliant person in your family is a lot more stressful thank you'd expect.

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Back at the 944, things weren't looking good, either. The kill switch was fixed and we didn't even have to break out the shiny new four-terminal version I'd picked up just in case. Reroute a few wires, and bam, done.

The fuel filler neck was another story. To give some background on why I never want to think about this fuel filler neck ever again, we lost an hour to a fuel leak at Eagles Canyon. We were black flagged for spilling fuel out the end of the neck, and as the LeMons rules clearly state, if you're busted spilling fuel on the track twice, you get sent home. We were using the neck from my original 944 that had most of the baffling inside removed for quicker fueling, but not wanting to take any chances, we put on the new 944's stock fuel neck for the rest of the race.

When we took the car back to Harris Hill, the 944 was still peeing fuel out the end of the neck when I tested it out. The gasket around the neck was pushing up on the cap, so we removed it. On top of that, the cap itself wasn't making a good seal. We replaced that. Now it spat fuel back up before we could ever get the tank full if we filled it up at a gas pump or fueled with a jug where we opened up the air vent for quicker flow. Pit stops were our biggest time-suck at Eagles Canyon, so this was a real problem. It also suggested that one of the floats or baffles in the neck wasn't letting enough fuel through.

The solution that everyone helping with the car came up with, much to my nuisance, was to swap the leaky fuel neck back on. "You'll never get caught," assured the car's previous owner.

No. No. No. No. No.

We'd been busted for this before. The powers-that-be over LeMons know to look at that issue on this car. We couldn't have the same issue again if we wanted to enjoy a full weekend of racing. If we came in with a streak of fuel down the rear quarter-panel of the car, we'd end up with the car back on our trailer.

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The leak, admittedly, was minor, and JB-Weldable. It was at the top of the neck itself and was only about a pin-sized hole, presumably from when they'd drilled all the baffles out.

That was one more thing to worry about when I get home. Groan. It was "fixed," but not fixed, and I wasn't sure I'd have time to run the car myself anymore to look for the leak.

Item number two to worry about was something one of the drivers had found when he went to test out the car: the car was bogging down intermittently between 3,000 and 3,500 RPM. Emails flew back and forth trying to pinpoint a fix without having the car right in front of us. I'd never had the issue before, so perhaps we knocked something loose fiddling with the fuel filler neck or launching it at speed off the big bump at the apex of turn nine.

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It could be anything from a bad coil to a clogged fuel filter to simply the open differential messing with us if we took turns hard enough to lift a wheel. I couldn't get to to the car, regardless. I ordered a mess of fuel system related parts to swap out as soon as I got back: a new air filter, a new fuel filter, a new coil and new spark plugs. If that didn't get to the cause of the issue, we'd be hosed.

Thankfully, Dad was getting better every day. He was more lucid and could remember names and places more easily, even if he did need a prompt every now and then. As soon as the rehabilitation facility had space, the plan was to move him over there to work on rebuilding his memory. Mom knew I had a whole team relying on me to show up with the car, that we had already paid to run it, and that LeMons would be good for me, dagnabbit, so she said that she'd try to manage in the meantime, and that I could go.

A dead car battery kept me in northeast Texas 'til lunch time the Tuesday before the race, so I ate my feelings and left, spending the next couple days trying to catch up on work and my now urgent list of Porschelump tasks.

A Mad Dash To Break Otherwise Unbroken Things

I decided to start with the harness and slider issues, knowing that rounding up hardware for these things can be a royal pain. I drained the coolant while it was up on stands to get that started while I worked.

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Unfortunately, the seat was even more of a time-suck than expected, which meant that I didn't get the number of other things done that I wanted to. The bottom bolts didn't line up with where they were on the old sliders, so new mount holes had to be drilled for the seat. Then there was the clearance issue: the adjusters for the new belts' submarine straps were under the seat, and the lower sliders meant that I had very little room to wad my fingers in there to adjust them.

Worst of all, the metal bar in front that locked the sliders in and out of place was hitting against the bottom of the floor pan itself, which prevented it from locking in place.

Additionally, I couldn't find the spare push-to-talk button for the in-car radio. I found the receipt, though: we'd only ordered one. So, the only one we had was pulled apart at Eagles Canyon after the wire got wrapped around the steering column too much. I frantically ordered two more and called to make sure the shipping option I'd selected would arrive on Friday. They assured me that it would even though that option was listed as two to three days of transit time, so I placed the order.

I packed everything early Thursday morning, reorganizing everything into neat, see-through plastic totes and labeling each box's contents on the top of each tote. I grouped similar items together so that we could stack items I know we'd need to reach on top of spares that would be bad news if we had to use.

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The truck took longer than expected to load, however, since I had to bring heavy boxes of parts down from a second floor apartment to the truck (an evil twin of the truck I'd borrowed last time) below.

Luckily, the previous owner of my original 944 was around Thursday afternoon to lend a hand. We JB-Welded the tiny hole in the fuel filler neck and re-filled the coolant system with water, running it a couple times to make sure it stayed at the right level.

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I left defeated on Thursday night, having really only fixed the leaky fuel filler neck (hopefully), swapped the coolant for water and thoroughly borked a perfectly good enough seat and harness setup.

I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide somewhere for being unable to tackle all of the fuel system items. All I needed right now was a long nap with Fluffy Bunny, and for someone knowledgeable (with more arm strength because I still struggle with tasks requiring brute force, too) to help me get all this crap done. Oh, and for my parents to be both home and well. That would be nice, too.

I stopped to fuel the Porschelump at a gas station to test out the neck patch. Sure enough, it filled with eight gallons or so with no problems, although the gas gauge only read that the tank was 3/4 full when I turned the car on to double-check. I may have another issue with my gas gauge.

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While stopped for fuel, I sent a panicked message on the LeMons forums asking if anyone who'd be around MSR-Houston to drop off their car could help with the slider issue. We could tackle the short preventative maintenance items with the fuel delivery system easily in the morning, or even after testing if we needed to. Same goes with the new, readable numbers. Adjusting harnesses into place should be a quick task, too, but if the seat didn't stay in place, we were screwed.

The latest word from my mom was that there still wasn't room to move Dad over to rehab, either. That wasn't good. While I was confident that my mom would be able to take care of herself for a few days despite the fact that she was nervous about being on her own for the first time in years, I was more worried about how she'd fare for a longer period of time.

Did I really just come home to the LeMon for nothing? I now had a seat that rocks back and forth on its sliders that won't pass even for test day. I'm pretty sure all I did was make everything worse.

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Then there's the worst-case scenario: what if I have to drop everything and go back to my parents?

With an hour to go before MSR-Houston locked its gates for the night, I arrived and looked for a place to unload the Porschelump. Knowing I would need a tall person to be able to push down the 944's clutch without having the seat fly backwards, I quickly found one in a garage to help unload my car.

The car glided right off the trailer. "I fixed your seat," said the man as he climbed out of the car. "The tube handles on these are so flimsy that you can just bend them up where they need to be."

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I was overjoyed. We could go out and practice now, even if we didn't bother to do anything other than adjust the belts in the morning.

I'm not a hugger. I gave this dude a hug.

I unloaded everything I needed to clear the bed of the truck and make enough space inside to pick up crew member/boyfriend Matt from the airport, and made a neatly organized wall-o-spares. 'Lump was here!

(Then I got lost trying to find Matt's airport. THANKS, GPS.)

Work And Practice Day

Friday started with a mad dash to get the remaining items done on the car. I hated using practice day time to do it, but we didn't really have a choice given how the past week had gone. It was freezing cold, so I tried to bundle up as best as I could without being unable to move.

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Matt and I got working on the maintenance items early, and two of the other drivers trickled in as the morning went on, so we knocked through most of the list by lunch time. The passenger seat I'd borrowed for a track day came out, too, allowing me to use it as a comfortable chair all weekend long. We failed miserably at applying the numbers and a sponsor decal Matt had brought smoothly in the bitingly cold wind, but they were at least readable from a distance. We also found a brake line that had come loose from its brackets underneath the car, so we zip tied it back in place, too.

Finally, we got to the harnesses. Not a single one of us could adjust the new harnesses' submarine strap from beneath without unbolting the loop. There just wasn't enough room under the seat. The fact that the adjuster was by the part that bolted through the floor meant that adjusting it for our tallest drivers would make it way too short for our shortest drivers, and vice versa.

We noticed that the belts I'd borrowed from a friend to run the trackday at TWS had adjusters that were accessible through the hole in the seat for the submarine belt. Crotch straps cutting off circulation to your legs? You, the driver, could just reach down to loosen or tighten it right there. Luckily, they were still in spec and I'd brought them along with the rest of Der Porschelump's kit. In went the borrowed set of harnesses, saving our butts in time to put the car through tech and run some laps in it.

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After swapping all the bolt-in hardware for the clip-in harness bits from the passenger side, we finally took the car through tech and BS inspections, where the usual happens. The car goes through tech and passes because we always err on the side of paranoia when it comes to the tech sheet.

Then it's on to BS inspections, where the LeMons judiciary decides whether or not your car is really worth $500. I whip out my theme-appropriate Puffalumps and argue for Class C ("The Ugly") because it's owned by an autojourno and LeMons loves to poke fun at automotive journalists for being abysmal drivers. "The car was in print!" I argued. "And I can't afford to cheat, either!" Judge Phil then argues that it should be in Class A ("The Good") and threatens to tie a Puffalump to the RX-7's exhaust if we screw up and end up in the penalty box.

Then we get Class B ("The Bad") with zero penalty laps, just like last time, because it's an early 944 on worn out suspension, and we haven't really changed anything since the last time we ran the car.

Automotive journalists in red 944s were a thing this weekend. Jack Baruth from Road & Track had signed up to run a Cars-themed 944 Turbo and was also there in a ludicrously huge press truck.

Another team from a television show was there running a yellow Dodge Neon, which probably kept having issues by sheer will of it not being a red 944.

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A fourth driver on the team who had been tied up with work all morning showed up in the afternoon. We had a fifth driver signed up, but he got stuck at home because his car died and left him with no means of getting here from Dallas. Ouch. (Seat's open for next time, dude.)

Anyway, I let my teammates take the car out since I'd had plenty of time in the seat. Zero issues. No one experienced the odd bogging down issue in turns. Everyone was feeling a lot more comfortable with the car. Success.

This had somehow become been the most prepared and the least prepared I'd ever been for a LeMons race. Eagles Canyon felt like a test run, but here, I had a car that ran fairly decently and plenty of seat time in it, plus the boyfriend was slightly better at keeping me from going "OOH! FUZZY SQUIRREL CAR!" and running off instead of getting work done.

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Those of us who were staying in Angleton went to pick up a few items in town and discuss driver order and morning to-do items over dinner.

Only one thing went wrong back at the hotel: the push-to-talk buttons for the in-car radio hadn't arrived as planned. Matt figured he could mend the one that we'd broken from Eagles Canyon, but there was no guarantee. We would just have to get up early the next day and work to get it done.

If there's ever a compelling reason for the continued existence of RadioShack, it's LeMony electrical and audio issues. While we couldn't get specialized IMSA audio connectors there, we could get everything else we needed to try to kludge a spare headset into an adapter for David's helmet and try to piece together the old radio button.

Race Day 1: Don't Kill My Car

The morning went as smoothly as you could expect it to. We rotated tires, fueled the car, Fog-X'd and Rain-X'd the windshield because Houston is a wet, soggy armpit, tried to mend the push-to-talk button, and adjusted the belts to work with both our tallest and our shortest drivers.

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The one hiccup was when David tried to warm up the car by letting it idle. It was so cold outside that I thought that this wouldn't be a bad idea. I forgot to mention that it only has one working fan, though, and that you can't let it idle for too long without it dropping coolant everywhere.

Oops.

So, we refilled the car with more distilled water, too.

I reiterated all of my usual paranoid car owner spiel to my team: shift at 5,000 RPM to save the engine, drive at 7/10ths max, don't spin, let the erratic drivers crash each other out, come in early if the back end gets wobbly from being light on fuel, don't crash, and don't spin.

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Part of the strategy for LeMons is avoiding the penalty box, and since it's a series open to total track novices, they even black flag drivers for dropping a wheel off of the track surface. I'm fine with this given the number of zero-track-experience guys who show up and don't always know how to bring a car back on the pavement safely. Still, even though they've gotten extremely lenient on punishments for mundane first-time offenses, any trip to the penalty box eats a ton of time. Don't go there in the first place, don't break down, and you've got a shot at finishing well even if you're a team who's just doing this for the fun of it.

The lack of a hatch on the back of the car makes it a whirling spin monster whenever it's not loaded up with fuel, so our plan was to fill it up at every stop.

The mended push-to-talk button was iffy at best, so we decided to signal by waving out the window on the front straight if the push-to-talk button quit working. A couple teammates wanted to hear their lap times, but I really wanted to be left alone unless there was an imminent problem on track or with the car.

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One of our shortest drivers, David, was first. Unfortunately, Judge Phil saw our car waiting in line and didn't feel as if our harnesses could cinch down tight enough on David's chest. We rushed to put the end of the adjustable 3" strip higher up on David's chest to allow for more adjustment, grumbled a bunch about how the tech folks yesterday had no issue with where the 2" to 3" belt piece laid and grumble grumble, Saucy Minx isn't in charge of technical inspections. Grumble.

Whatever. We still made it out in time to file in the end of the starting parade laps. I ain't even mad.

We took our first stop after an hour in the pits just to check oil consumption and fuel use. This car leaks oil like a sieve on a good day, but the fluids and fuel were fine, so we sent David back out to finish his stint.

Next up was John, who owns a 944 in much better condition than mine and is our tallest driver. We had trouble adjusting the belts to fit John because of the mandated readjustment for David. That was irritating, because our pit stop was far longer than it should have been, and we already killed extra time by bringing in David for a fluids check. Still, John brought back the car in one piece after more drama-free track time. Phew.

Marla went in third, and finally, after having calmed down from everyone keeping our nose clean, I finally started to worry a little.

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I was next. I hadn't driven this track in three years. Then, I'd driven it in the underpowered but cute Bunnywagen, a rear-engined Volkswagen Type 3 with a Type 4 engine stuffed in the back. That was a completely different kind of car than this floppy, hoppy 944.

I rushed to find some footage of laps to watch as a refresher. Unfortunately, the cell phone reception at MSR-Houston was so bad that it wouldn't even make it a third of the way through a lap before it gave up on loading videos. The open wifi signal that used to be at MSR-H had gone kaput as well. Even the LeMons staff was miserably trying to tether off Phil's phone.

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Finally, I sort of made it through a blurry low-resolution video and looked at the map enough to feel sort of okay with heading out on track. Sort of. We'd ordered a couple pizzas from in town for lunch and I nervously nibbled through a couple slices. It was cold and wet on-and-off all day long, so naturally, I was bundled up and worried about spinning my own car.

Once I got out on track, though, I relaxed quite a bit. This was not a super hard track to drive sort-of-competitively for LeMons. If you got off rhythm or fumbled through the twisty section too poorly, that could be miserable, but the rest wasn't too bad.

I had one scare early on, though. On one of my first few laps, sure enough, I experienced the 3,000 RPM lag in the double-apex right-hand-turn right after the main straight. It was still fairly dry on track and I had just gotten comfortable in the car, so I know I had to have been pushing it in that turn. Still, I decided that the issue wasn't worth pulling in for and pressed on.

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I was in until the checkered flag. Rain started to fall and I felt the track become slipperier, especially where a white 944 had blown a hole through its oil pan along the long back straight. I backed off quite a bit, knowing that when it first starts to rain is the slickest time to be on pavement. Several cars who didn't heed the little wet dots on their windshield spun around me, but I gave them plenty of room.

Finally, the rain started to clear up towards the end of the day.

There's nothing quite like finishing a day of racing in your own car, particularly one that hadn't even been running in time to make it to last year's race at this track. Porschelump made it! It's a miracle every time this happens.

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Saturday night is usually LeMons' social hour, but the storms that were moving in were starting to soak the entire paddock. Few braved the cold and rain to hang around for long.

Everyone agreed that our windshield wiper stalk wasn't working correctly as it was, zip-tied to the roll cage dash bar. We needed a more user-friendly solution that wouldn't randomly turn on and off and that wasn't as easy to hit with your hand.

A few less cold-averse teams stuck it out to continue working on their cars, enjoy a campfire and share a meal or a beer at the track.

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I had older parents that I probably needed to go back to after the weekend who I couldn't infect with whatever pneumonia I'd catch by sticking it out there. We checked suspension bolts for tightness, fluid levels, and tire wear, threw everything under tarps, lowered the EZ-Up closer to the car, and left to buy parts and eat Mexican food. Warm, cheesy Mexican food.

Smart decision, that.

Race Day 2: Don't Spin My Car

The good news is that we got the new push-to-talk buttons in overnight, and that the bitter cold was done for the weekend. The bad news was that the cold front gave way to wave upon wave of pouring rain.

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We put up more tarps along the sides of the EZ-Up to block out more rain, swapped the kludged-together push-to-talk button for the new one that arrived the day before, and Matt got to work on wiring the wipers to run off of a switch. We had off, intermediate and full speed as options for the wipers. We looked at the radio connector and determined that the loss in radio reception was probably from it coming loose, and re-did the seat belts to fit everyone better (again).

My paranoid advice to everyone was a little more focused for today: don't spin, and give drivers who look like they don't understand the magical skywater a wide, wide berth so they don't spin into you.

This is Texas. Rain is voodoo. No one knows how to drive in it.

John was up first because he had an early flight out of town for a business trip.

Despite the huge puddles left from the previous night in the paddock, it didn't rain much for most of John's stint. He brought the car back in with no issues.

Marla was second since her flight home was also fairly early in the afternoon. There was enough rain that I gave up on my soggy shoes and switched to flip-flops because feet always dry out faster. My throat as already feeling sore, and not knowing if that was from talking or illness, I knew I needed to stay as dry as possible all day.

The car had zero drama during Marla's stint, either.

Finally, it was time for my last stint of the weekend. The 944 is great on gas mileage when driven in LeMons short-shift mode, so being short one driver actually worked out okay. We could do one 1:40-2:00 session per person per day, making only three stops for the entire day.

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I was less nervous about this second day's drive, even though I don't have much experience on track in the rain, either. This is exactly how you get better at driving in the rain: by doing it. Seat time is key to getting more comfortable in bad weather, and LeMons gives you a ton of it all at once.

Still, the couple bites I'd taken of the Italian sub I'd gotten for lunch weren't helping. I decided the rest of the sandwich could (*belllllllch*) wait until after I was out of the car and my nerves had calmed down.

We pulled into the pits for this stop to check all of the fluids. I strapped into the car.

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Radio check: the push-to-talk button wasn't working when I got in the car, even though I could hear incoming radio chatter just fine. Oh well. Not important. Go out anyway.

Jack Baruth was out in the other 944 at the same time, so we waved at each other every time he'd lap the much, much slower Porschelump.

Turns out, I was just fine in the rain, and on pace with most of the other cars in our class that weren't spinning out. I even started to enjoy it a little towards the end. It was a lot like yesterday: I had several wet laps, and then a few where the track started to dry up. This weather was miserable, but manageable so long as you didn't spin yourself or get caught up in someone else flopping out of control.

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Finally, a radio call came through that wasn't about a yellow flag or debris caution on track: "Pit on—" and the rest was garbled. I drove by the stands, looking to check if my team was there. I shook my hand out the window, knowing that my requests for a repeat wouldn't go through since the PTT button wasn't working.

On the next lap, I pitted, assuming that not seeing them above meant they were in the hot pits. I drove slowly, expecting to see my team there since I had assumed we were going there after my stint based on the original plan. Nope. No one. This felt a little early, anyway, so I went back on track for a little while.

Finally, a clearer call came through: "Pit next lap at the pumps." I took the car in. Phew.

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I felt dumb taking the car in early, but it's that stupid radio system's fault. The original hole for the antenna is in a fiberglass panel that doesn't help at all with reception, and we desperately need to re-drill it on a metal section of the roof.

Now it was David's turn. The track surface had already started to develop the typical wet LeMons race slime of dropped oil, coolant and water all mixed into an unavoidable film of snot over the entire surface. I heard another racer compare it to driving on ice, in part because MSR-Houston is so heavily polished from use that the pavement itself doesn't help, either.

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Larger raindrops started falling from the sky heavier even worse as David got in the car. "The surface is crap, and everyone's driving like crap," I warned. "Slippery, slippery crap."

David went out as the rain eventually built up to a steady pour. I noticed the other 944 come in.

"Nemesis is in," I told Marla, who was manning the radios. "I'm going to see if it's Jack."

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It wasn't Jack, and worse yet, David pulled in right behind the other 944. Luckily, another LeMons judge who wasn't out for Puffalump blood took the call.

"This is your first black flag all weekend?" he asked. "Get out of here."

Phew, but nooooo! We were just about to catch the car in third place for Class B when David was brought in for a spin in one of the tighter turns of the track.

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It wasn't long until the race was over, so we started to pack things up in the paddock so Matt could make his flight in time.

It started pouring as soon as Cookie Monster Warlord threw the checkered flag.

We finished fourth in our class.

Most importantly, we finished.

I had a car that didn't let me down all weekend, and nothing compares to having the car you saw through to race day actually finish a race intact.

My car survived in much better shape than I did, though.

I felt horrible by the time I finally got home. The winter blast was alive and well north of Houston, which meant that I had to trailer my car all the way up to Austin with a strong cross-wind. I was so cold and exhausted that I didn't even unload the trailer for a day. Over a week of continual stress had caught up with me.

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Luckily, Dad made it into rehab for his stroke a few days after the race and came home shortly afterwards, lifting that huge additional burden off my shoulders. He's home now, still recovering but making decent progress.

The sore throat that I started to develop after being outside all weekend during a cold snap was no joke. I got so sick after LeMons that I was still too much of a dripping, hacking snotball at Thanksgiving to even leave my apartment. The boxes of LeMons spares in my living room haven't budged an inch for two weeks.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

The 944 simply belongs on track, and there's nothing more soothing than a couple hours of race time to immerse yourself in to remind yourself that there is more to life than misery and woe.

(I may bring more cold and wet weather gear next time, though, just in case.)

Photo credit: Murilee Martin (Puffalumps at BS Inspections)

Correction: I mixed up my Dad-strokes in this one. The fall in the shower originally mentioned in this article happened with a stroke several months ago, not this latest one.