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I recently ran my very first auto race. I entered my 2007 Dodge Caliber R/T Manual in the 24 Hours of Lemons race at Buttonwillow raceway California. It was apparently the first Dodge Caliber ever entered in that series, so we were featured in the recap video.

Can anyone confirm if this is the first Dodge Caliber in a competitive race anywhere?

The 24 Hours of Lemons is a road track endurance racing series that specializes in cheap cars and has rules to keep costs down. The primary cost rule is that the total you can spend to buy the car and prepare it to race is $500. Safety equipment, roll cage, harness, seat, brakes, tires, etc., do not count toward the $500 limit. You can find more detail here: Homepage - 24 Hours of LEMONS

Here is the overall race recap on YouTube, we are featured in the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEd8MoCRndM&t=266s

The 24 Hours of Lemons series is reportedly the largest racing series in the world in terms of numbers of drivers and cars racing. They run something like 20 races a year at tracks all over the US: Upcoming Events - 24 Hours of LEMONS

The Buttonwillow circuit is 3.1 miles and we ran 273 laps / 846 miles. I had three other drivers on my team, and we drove in shifts of about two hours.

There was a total of 85 cars in the field in all three classes. There were about 20 cars in our class, Class C. We placed 29th overall and 6th in our class. A good result considering that we have never raced before.

We finished 41 laps behind the Class C winner, which was a first gen Honda Insight, with the batteries and motor removed. The Insight was running on the 70hp 3 cylinder motor, but the car was so light that it was unstoppable.

We had persistent overheating / coolant loss issues throughout the race. We upgraded to a racing radiator before the race, so we are sure that we had plenty of cooling capacity (picture below). The car started out running nice and cool, under 210, and did that for a few hours, then the temps would start to spike. Luckily, we had remote telemetry, so I could see from the pit that the car was overheating and radio the driver to take a cool down lap or two. If not for our remote telemetry and radios, I'm confident we would have destroyed the engine.

I believe the overheating and coolant loss issues are a result of the coolant adapter water routing, and the coolant return tube (which feeds water into the water pump) that is routed directly under the exhaust manifold. For our next race, we will upgrade to the Caliber SRT-4 version of the coolant adapter and put several layers of insulation on the coolant return tube. I'll also put on the newer style water pump with the upgraded impeller. All this together will hopefully resolve our cooling issues.

It was a great race with lots of challenges, we got a few black flags, and I had to sing a song for the resulting penalty, but we are all very happy with the result and will race again next year, hopefully at Sears Point Raceway.


Here is our in car footage

Taking the checkered flag:
IMG_1421.jpeg


Upgraded Griffin radiator:

IMG_1376.jpeg


Pit stop refuel and driver change:

IMG_1409.jpeg


Roll cage:
cage.jpeg


New water pump and the SRT4 coolant adapter to go in for our next race:
IMG_1497.jpg


Sunrise before the race
IMG_1394.jpg
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