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$250 and a Dream

At team of Olin students was awarded the coveted “Index of Effluency” award at the 24 Hours of Lemons: Halloween Hooptiefest 2017 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Team “Olga” also placed 5th out of 11 cars in their category and 84th overall.

The well-deserved honors came at the helm of Olga—a 1988 Mercedes Benz 300E bought more than a year ago for $250. Alexander Scott, Hunter Normandeau, Andrew Holmes, Jared Briskman, Steven Meyer, Lindsey Andrade and Juan Carlos del Rio all contributed to the effort.

The team spent months rehabbing the car including gutting the interior, installing a roll cage and racing seat, an ignition kill switch and a fire extinguisher. As for the ever-important engine, the team replaced the head gasket, spark plugs, and fuel injectors, cleaned all the valves, piston heads, and cylinders.

After months of prep, race day finally arrived.

The 24 Hours of Lemons may not rank up there with the Indianapolis 500 in the pantheon of car racing, but this endurance road race has its own fans. It is held in various venues across the country and boasts thousands of participants every year. The cars must cost less than $500 and be sound and safe enough to make it around a race track but other than that all bets are off.

The Olin team raced the car for more than 14 hours and completed 250 laps without a single mechanical fault. Although the team didn’t win their category, instead placing 84 out of 110, they were thrilled to win the Index of Effluency award for “bringing a car that should never go anywhere near a race track, but is so mechanically sound that it manages to finish the entire race.”

“For us, every lap was a victory lap. We began just hoping that we would pass tech. From there, even 24 laps seemed like a stretch. The fact that we not only ran the full race, but won the IOE had us in disbelief,” said Scott.