Yesterday, we honored Team Police Brutality for their repeated last-minute, knuckle-shredding thrashes on cars that warm the ice-cold hearts of the LeMons HQ staff. Today we honor Morrow’s Auto, the only team that rivals Police Brutality for sheer never-say-die futility heroism!
The first time we saw this team was at The Lamest Day LeMons at Nelson Ledges in ’09, where the jaw-droppingly amazing Snoopy’s Quest For The Holy Nickelbag GMC 1-ton van got our hopes up during the BS Inspection… and then proceeded to grenade the engine during prerace practice laps. No problem, though; the Pittsburgh-based Morrow’s Auto crew scavenged up a bunch of random small-block Chevy engine parts and proceeded to do a full engine rebuild in the muddy hell that was the Nelson Ledges paddock.
It took most of the weekend, but they finally got the van out on the track. 97th place (out of 122 entries), plus the Heroic Fix trophy. This would not be their last Heroic Fix, oh no!
The next time we saw this bunch of grimy Pennsylvania wrenches was at the American Irony 2010 race at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan. Because the Holy Nickelbag van wasn’t challenging enough, they also brought this Grand Prix, complete with the first-ever Pontiac 400 in LeMons history.
The Pontiac engine turned out to be quasi-reliable, but the transmission blew up within seconds of the green flag waving. After exhausting the supply of BOP-pattern Turbo 400s within several counties, the Morrow’s Auto & Woodstock’s NAStiCAR Quest For The Holy Nickelbag Grand Prix limped in for a 45th-place (out of 51 entries) finish. By this time, we’d become accustomed to seeing these dudes completely covered in various automotive fluids, surrounded by every tool they own, and generally lying on their backs beneath their dead race machines.
Yes, I said machines, because Morrow’s Auto brought the Holy Nickelbag Van to this race, and this time they had a solution to the less-than-reliable small-block engine: move it back a few feet and add twin ghettocharging!
Running a blow-through carbureted turbo setup should have been just the ticket for a trouble-free race, but somehow things didn’t quite work out that way. Several dead turbochargers, much overheating, and a couple of engine fires later, the Holy Nickelbag Van managed to get 35th place at the Detroit Irony race!
In fact, the van even helped push a dead E30 around the track for the checkered-flag victory lap, then pushed it past the judges for the traditional “you managed to finish this stupid race” high-five ceremony. This time, the team took home the Organizer’s Choice trophy, for a 2-for-2 trophy record.
At the Capitol Offense 24 Hours of LeMons, the van and Grand Prix rolled to 70th and 41st place, respectively. I’m sure the team spent most of the weekend busting off various low-bidder Detroit fasteners in various 300,000-mile cylinder heads, but I was busy getting married and couldn’t see it happening. What I do know is that the team won the Best Finish By A Non-Fuel-Injected Car trophy, making them three-for-three in trophy opportunities.
And that brings us to the Detroit Bull Oil GP 24 Hours of LeMons last weekend. The Holy Nickelbag van got scrapped, which made us sad… until we saw its replacement! Yes, a Bradley GT with Vanagon Wasserboxer power. What could possibly go wrong?
I begged them not to take the car out for practice on Friday, figuring they’d have a repeat of the two-laps-and-kaboom routine they went through with their van at Nelson Ledges. I was wrong! The Wasserboxer blew up in spectacular fashion after a single lap.
Fortunately, they’d brought several air-cooled VW engines of unknown origin, so a quick swap and they’d be back on the track. Right?
Wrong! The only functional carburetor between all four engines was the two-barrel Pinto-sourced Holley they’d rigged up on the Wasserboxer’s homemade intake manifold, and there was no way to get the manifold to swap onto one of the air-cooled engines. What to do? Why, rig up a fiberboard adapter plate to mount the Holley atop one of the bad Solexes, which would then be de-butterflied.
But then the linkage wouldn’t reach, which meant that a coat-hanger-wire-and-bungee-cord rig had to be fabricated.
Hooray, back onto the track! Well, for a handful of laps, because then the brakes seized up and the engine started pouring out vast quantities of oil.
After a brake swap and another engine swap (but who’s counting?), it turned out that all the spare engines had terrible front and/or rear main seals and were dumping oil at all times.
But Morrow’s Auto never wises gives up! Using bicycle inner tubes, or maybe it was vacuum-cleaner belts, they managed to fabricate VW main seals from scratch, and the Bradley was out there when the checkered flag waved. 68th place out of 71 entries!
What about the Grand Prix, you ask? Well, this time it showed up as a Grand Prix-amino, complete with bumpers made out of logs and a big plexiglas window in the hood.
How did the Morrow’s Auto & The Wacky Racers “Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth in the Buzzwagon Quest” fare? Other than some fuel-dumping problems and the usual GM mechanical problems, pretty well: 37th place! The trophy this time? The second Heroic Fix. Good work, Morrow’s Auto!

4 Responses to “LeMons Legends of Morrow’s Auto Get Highest Engine-Swap-Per-Lap Ratio In History!”

  1. Tom Hergert

    So conflicted about this kind of article. On the one hand why not just bring something out that has a prayer of running? On the other hand what fun! Let me know when somebody else has to use a fork lift to fix some damage from horrible driving.

  2. theeastbaykid

    I think the riskiest proposition in all of this is the E30. I mean, think about it. If you bring a 1-ton van with a mid engine turbo conversion, a Vanagon-powered ANYTHING, or any car that passed on using a Chevy smallblock for the purposes of brand identity, there is an absolutely infinitesimal expectation of doing anything other than catching fire and/or killing every living thing in a 100 yd radius.

    If you bring an E30 and it breaks down, and you must be pushed off the track by one of the aforementioned machines, wow. I’d hate to be you.

  3. Speedycop

    And they are nice guys to boot!

    I’m looking forward to hanging out with them this weekend. If that happens, that means our crapcans are still running, and we’re not elbows deep in some ill-advised repair attempt. Hey, one can dream…

  4. dickc

    You don’t mention the over head radiator. There was now way in hell you could get me in that car. I have no clue how it passed tech. Those guys are nuts! Nice as can be, but NUTS!!!

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