CLEVER CONSULAR CAR

Part of the process of running in the 24 Hours of LeMons includes Judging. This weekend at Thunderhill Raceway Park for The 24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze-A-Palooza Race, the Judging was Friday, after the more serious Scrutineering.

The judges can assess laps if the car is thought to be a cheater car. One such car Friday was the No.140 Diplomatic Immunity team. The car is a 1995 Mercedes S600 V12, which retails new for $135,000. The owner/builder SETH SCALLY, bought it for $1,000 on Craig’s List. He sold the air bags and driver’s seat for $500, thereby fulfilling in his mind the $500 purchase limit. Everything else remained in the car, which weighs 5000 pounds. This was no stripped down race shell. While it is not armored, the Mercedes does have double-pane bullet resistant (not bullet-proof) windshields. The car itself has had many owners, perhaps originally a drug dealer. It’s possible the car was part of a drug bust and couldn’t be sold in the US without a title or smog certificate, so it turned up in Mexico. All the Bills of Sale indicate it was sold at auction after auction, and ended up on Craig’s List. Scally decided it would either be a parts car or a LeMons car. He chose the latter.

The Mercedes has assumed the persona of the Republic of Paraguay, complete with official seal and (cleverly forged) Consular license plates. A license plate frame says “I collect 42 % G.D.P.” Team Captain/co-driver, JOHN MAGNUSON, is channeling the late General Heissman from Paraguay, complete with uniform, medals, sash and boots. In the Judging, the Generalissimo drove the car very slowly, while the crew – dressed as Secret Service men with sunglasses – ran beside the car.

The LeMons judges assessed a world-record 13,500 lap penalty against the Mercedes. The General does not accept any penalties and chose to run the risk of being voted The People’s Curse. He dodged the bullet. No car was voted The People’s Curse.

Team Diplomatic Immunity is not especially fast and not without mechanical problems. It’s car number was almost its position after Saturday’s run – P137 at 1:49.01.662. But it’s still out there and having a good time…and has no dents.

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