Endurance Racing a Saab 9-5 Wagon – Futility Motorsport

Futility Motorsport Saab 9-5

Greetings eEuroparts community, we are a family race team that competes in the 24 Hours of Lemons series in our 2008 Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon. We’d like to introduce ourselves a little and recap our first race of 2018 in New Jersey. Look forward to us contributing write-ups on maintenance parts and basic performance parts upgrades as we put our 9-5 through its paces throughout the year. So who are we? We’re a family team including my Dad, Brother, Sister, and myself who have been racing in the 24 Hours of Lemons for 7 years now under the team name Futility Motorsport. Initially we ran a 1989 Dodge Daytona. Following that car’s retirement we decided to build my father’s previous daily driver into our new family race car. The 9-5 had 254,000 miles worth of daily driving duty as part of its first life. This race in New Jersey is the car’s 5th race so far.

So to New Jersey, the northeast region kickoff race of the year. Held at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville NJ, we race the 2.25mile Thunderbolt circuit. Leading up to the race we had a few items to fix with our car. First was the ABS system, which we’ll be writing up in more detail for a separate post. Short version, the ABS sensor ring on the axle had broken into 3 pieces at a previous race. We replaced the very old sub frame bushings with the Proparts Poly Bushings which was an immense change in tightening up the front end.

Subframe Bushing Set - Front (Polyurethane)
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Additionally an axle had a torn CV boot and needed swapping, a few exhaust parts needed to be replaced after some rear end contact at the previous race, we replaced the broken front Sway Bar End Link, and lastly discovered that the alternator was no longer functioning. All our replacement parts were luckily in stock and shipped super fast from the eEuroparts CT warehouse.  

Futility Motorsports Bushing Install

Celebrating the last bushing install

Thursday before the race we packed up and drove down to Millville. That night we tackled the alternator replacement, an adventure in itself trying to wrangle the old one out and the new one back into position. Thankfully the new unit worked perfectly. Friday at Lemons is tech day. We breezed through and landed in B class like normal. We filled the rest of the day doing ‘nice-to-have’ improvements like installing a defroster on the front windscreen in anticipation of rain.

Mid defroster install, peeling the backing paper off

Saturday we installed our video live streaming equipment and strapped Dad in for the first stint.   It would not be our best of the day. We started off decently, with dad setting the fastest lap we’ve ever run at NJ, a 1:59.6, and then were rewarded with our exhaust falling off. Apparently I didn’t place the hangers correctly when rebuilding. I quickly re-hung the exhaust and added some safety wire to try and hold the rubber dampers in place. My brother’s stint went relatively cleanly, and then I climbed in for the third stint. With the new sub frame bushings and fixed and functional sway bar, the car is fast. The only thing holding it back is the open diff. With a limited slip diff we’d be able to carry a lot more speed through the longer corners.

New Jersey Motorsports Park SaabAround halfway through my stint I put two wheels off. A car that I thought would hold their line into turn 1 ran wide and I put wheels off to avoid contact. I reported immediately and was allowed to return to the track without a penalty (Lemons rules dictate penalties for driving off the track). Later after managing a 1:58.8 lap, my safety wire fix failed and I had a minor heart attack as the exhaust crashed to the ground again making me think something major had broken. Refusing to allow something so minor to take us out of the race again I found a welder and added some cut up exhaust clamps to the hangers to make it impossible for the rubber hangers to slide off ever again.

Futility Motorsports PitstopMy sister took the last stint, and had a couple minor contact incidents which pushed us further back in the standings. At the end of the day we were in 78th out of more than 120. That night we sat down, told ourselves there would be no more black flags or contact the rest of the weekend. We rotated the tires, checked fluid levels and cleaned up the car a little. For this race we were running ROWE motor oil as part of the eEuroparts ROWE Stress Test. The great news is our oil analysis came back perfect and we’ll be running this oil at all races going forward, but more on that later.

Futility Motorsport Falken Azenis

Fronts (top) and Rear (bottom) tires after a day of racing. Swapping front to back lets us get a full second day

Sunday went much better. No more contact, no more flags. There was rain in the morning which slowed the field a little, but it dried out as the day went on. We slowly climbed back up the standings to the top 50. When I climbed in for the last stint of the day I was greeted with a lovely grinding screaming noise on all right hand turns which indicates a right hand wheel bearing (funny enough by chance Futility Motorsport’s old Dodge appears in that article – ed). Apparently 254,000 street miles and another 3,000 race miles is the limit on wheel bearings.

I came into the pits quickly to make sure the wheel bolts and axle nut was tight, and spend the rest of the race babying right hand turns to keep turning laps. By the checkered flag we were in 49th place. Not our best finish, but not the worst. All four of us beat our fast laps from last year by at least 2 seconds, and managed to lay down fast laps within 3 seconds of each other. Racing as a family is proving to be a great experience.  

We have some new things to repair before the August Race in CT, but overall our Saab has been incredibly reliable. Most of our problems have been self inflicted, or just wear items reaching their end of life (looking at you, wheel bearings). We’ll keep the updates coming and share our repairs as we complete them. We’re glad to be ambassadors for the Saab brand. After 5 races and over 3000 race miles the reliability of our car has been amazing, stay tuned with our 260k mile race engine health report coming up soon!

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2 thoughts on “Endurance Racing a Saab 9-5 Wagon – Futility Motorsport
  1. David Hogberg

    Many thanks for your interesting account of your successes and set-backs. As they say in rallying, press on !

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