The Trippy Tippy Hippy Van Build Saga

The idea came to me—as so many other bad ideas do—by simply wondering how to make something totally conventional into something far more creative and entertaining to watch. Our previous builds were based on the same premise. What if a plane could be made into a racecar? We built the Spirit of LeMons, a ’56 Cessna 310, into a totally reliable street/track car that handles incredibly well, despite the mundane ’87 Toyota van base. I chose that particular model van because it uses a mid-engine/RWD setup and torsion bars in the front, which made for a low center of gravity, and left no strut towers protruding from the narrow fuselage. What if we did it again, but with a helicopter? Most helicopters have quite rounded bodies and use narrow skids, so even if a fuselage could somehow be sourced cheaply enough, neither would hide the chassis of even a small vehicle inside. The solution was clear to me—use pontoons to hide the vehicle chassis, and add an extra layer of challenge to the build by making it amphibious as well! The Upside-Down Camaro presented fewer serious engineering challenges, but still worked amazingly well as a visual gag. I wanted to recreate the jaw-dropping wow factor of that build, but how? A backwards truck had already been raced. I needed to think more unconventionally.

Why not a vehicle on its side? Continue reading

2017 NCM Mystery Build

The Trippy Tippy Hippy Van!

For the first ever 24 Hours of LeMons race at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, we wanted to pull out all the stops. Check out our teaser video for what is possibly our wildest build to date:


speedys weenies jeff jaime dave

For the 24 Hours of LeMons race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May, I decided that we would bring our old Suzuki X90 (formerly of pop-up camper race car fame) back as a hot dog stand. The Gang of Outlaws and I built a steel framework and put a tin roof and wood brick paneling on it, along with some printed vinyl banners. Although it was a massive aerodynamic hindrance and added about 500 lbs. to our race car, we flogged it hard on the track, and managed to finish 48th overall out of 124 teams! Not too shabby for a little body on frame SUV powered by a stock ’94 Miata four-cylinder engine. More importantly, we raised hundreds of dollars for Bella Reed Pitbull Rescue by giving away hot dogs all weekend and accepting donations. Our efforts resulted in another Index of Effluency win, the grand prize in the 24 Hours of Lemons series.

Check out the LeMons wrap up video (with lots of footage of our hot dog stand in action, starting at about 8:20) here: