Bernal Dads Go Racing at Sonoma, Give Valiant Volvo Race Car a Heart Attack

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

The last time the Citizens of Bernalwood saw the mutant race cars operated by those petrol-huffing papas from the Bernal Dads Racing Team was back in October, during the glamorous 2014 Fiesta On The Hill on Cortland.

That was when both The Whale, America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon, and  The Cookie, a motorized Alfa Romeo-Pepperidge Farm pun, were on display for Bernalese of all ages to eyeball and experience:


Since then, the Bernal Dads have been very busy. There was a 24 Hours of LeMons race at Sonoma Raceway in December, during which both The Whale and The Cookie performed valiantly, with only minimal body-damage to show for more than 16 hours of intense racing in each car. (Click here to go for a musical racing ride-along with your Bernalwood editor.)

Then came another race at Sonoma two weeks ago. The Bernal Dads planned to race only The Whale, although The Cookie made the trip too in the hope that it might attract a sucker willing race team to purchase it for a very reasonable price.

For the first day and a half, The Whale did what it does best: Perform reliably and put big, goofy grins on the faces of everyone who races it:

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

Everything was going great, Team Bernal was competitive, and Racer Brandon even found time to prepare for the much-coveted Daft Punk “Third DJ” audition:


But toward the end of the second day, with only a few hours of racing remaining, disaster struck. If you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when a Volvo station wagon engine decides to disembowel itself, then wonder no more: This in-Whale video captures the awful acoustics:

In that instant, The Whale was transformed from a gallant race car into a four-wheeled paperweight.

But since the race was almost over, and The Cookie was just sitting there with a big For Sale sign on the windshield, the decision was made to quickly ready it for race duty. A few minutes later, The Cookie made a surprise on-track cameo appearance:

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

Best of all, there was a surreal moment when The Cookie race car was pursued at 80+ mph by none other than… a Cookie Monster race car! With the For Sale sign still stuck to the windshield!

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

We can say with confidence that such a thing has never before happened in the history of global motorsport — or Sesame Street.

Later, the sad, inert Whale was dragged back in San Francisco, where the Bernal Dads Internal Combustion Pathology Team disassembled the motor to identity the cause of death. When the pistons were exposed, one smartass was heard to say, “Well, there’s your problem… right there!”


Oof. This was the official autopsy report:

Diagnosis: #3 intake valve spring failed, dropping valve, allowing shim to work loose. Once loose, the next time the piston hit the valve, the shim wedged under the camshaft lobe so firmly that the camshaft stopped. The crankshaft, however, did not stop. This snapped the timing belt, but more interestingly, it also sheared the cam sprocket locating pin right off the cam!

For those who never attended medical school, that basically means is that the engine is fried.

But fear not, Friends of Whale… the car can be revived with a simple heart transplant.

Which brings up a neighborly request: If you happen to have a spare Volvo 240 engine gathering dust in a closet, and you’d like to donate it to a worthy cause, please dial the number on your screen to contact the Bernal Dads Racing Team’s Volvo Resurrection Hotline. Mechanics and shamans are standing by.

PHOTOS; Telstar Logistics

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