The first day of the ’12 Showroom-Schlock Shootout 24 Hours of LeMons dawned hot and muggy and stayed that way until the checkered flag waved at 7:00 PM. The lead changed frequently during the day, with two former Midwest Region winners battling a couple of BMW E30s and a Porsche 944 for the top position. At this point, the fast-but-fragile Clueless Racing Honda CRX holds a two-lap lead.

Clueless Racing has a pattern that goes back a couple of years: most of the time, their engine fires a couple of connecting rods into the radiator, game over. If that doesn’t happen, they win. I believe the score at this point is something like three wins, twelve nuked engines. The team chasing the CRX in an ’87 BMW 325iS, Subliminal Racing, looked pretty strong in their last race and managed to avoid the epidemic of bad driving that kept the penalty box hopping all day today.

After coming agonizingly close to an overall LeMons win for over a year, Bucksnort Racing finally won the ’12 Detroit race a couple of months back. They spent some time today in the lead, but then a black flag cost them a bunch of laps. When Sunday’s session begins, they’ll start six laps behind the leader. Their BMW’s best lap time is more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the times of Clueless and Subliminal, but they’ll need a stumble by the teams in front of them in order to close the gap.

We saw a lot of spins, offs, crunching metal, and passing under the caution flag today, which meant that the justices of the LeMons Supreme Court had to provide plenty of their special brand of discipline. We’re hoping that Sunday will be cleaner.

If nothing else, all the cars knocked out with mechanical ailments should thin the pack somewhat. Autobahn Country Club’s track tends to be hard on engines, and we saw plenty of metal innards scattered around pit spaces.

Quick, what’s wrong with this picture?

The Toyota MR2 powered by a Kinner aircraft radial engine, which managed just a single lap at its racing debut last year, ran eight laps before getting sidelined by mechanical problems today.

Marc, the mastermind behind this project, just needs to weld these broken parts back together and find a semi-unobtainium shaft seal by tomorrow morning. We feel confident that he will succeed.

In the first-ever Volkswagen Type 3 matchup in LeMons history, the Team Gulp Fastback turned out to be 7 seconds per lap quicker than the Schnitzelwagen Squareback… but then the Gulp car threw a connecting rod and spent the entire afternoon with the team staring forlornly at their dead car, while the Schitzelwagons kept clattering around and around the track.

The Chevy Monza of Team Usual Suspects started out strong, with a huge Class C lead. In fact, this car managed to claw its way to fifth overall. Not long after that, however, the Monza’s driver plowed into a retaining wall and forced the team to spend hours banging the car back into some semblance of racing condition. As a result, the Class C lead now belongs to the three-cylinder Geo Metro of LemonAid Racing.

At this moment, filthy and exhausted team members are fixing their cars and eating barbecue. Check in Sunday night to see how things sort out!

By Murilee Martin