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The final event of the Freedom Factory's schedule for 2021, a two-for-one event that that brings together two of Cleetus McFarland's signature events, the 2.4 Hours of LeMullets and the wild party that is a Cleetus and Cars throwdown, recently wrapped up and if you weren't on the property at the Freedom Factory (or were not watching the live pay-per-view event) then you missed two solid days of racing and motorsports action. Ever since he acquired the former DeSoto Speedway Cleetus has been bent on providing some of the rowdiest action available in a controlled environment, and he certainly lived up to that expectation with his closeout to the year.
The first event, the 2.4 Hours of LeMullets, is the answer for anybody who complains about the lack of "stock cars" in stock car racing. Twenty Ford Crown Victorias, the best you can buy from fleet sales, are fitted with basic safety items, Nitto NT555 G2 tires, and nitrous. Teams of drivers split up into two 45-minute heats with the second heat determining the winner. This event saw some of the usual suspects of LeMullets make a return, like the guys from SXSBlog, Blake Wilkey, and Derek Bieri from Vice Grip Garage, and some new and surprising faces, such as David Freiburger (who paired up with Bieri), Vaughn Gittin, Jr., and no less than three NASCAR drivers: Parker Kligerman, Alex Bowman, and Kurt Busch, who paired off with Gittin. Unlike past LeMullets events, which were pure oval racing, this time around McFarland changed up the track layout into a "kidney" shape, with the front stretch of the Freedom Factory dented in with two chicanes that routed drivers onto the concrete burnout pad. This, combined with the water barrels that were spilled within the first three laps, made for tight, competitive racing with a bit of treachery involved.
The Diesel Brothers made the strange decision to cover their Crown Victoria in Astroturf. During the 2020 LeMullets race, they had carved up a section of the fresh grass and had earned the ire of fans.
Freiburger and Bieri's luck was not to be found this race...after painting their primary Ford up like Freiburger's "General Mayhem" Dodge Charger, that car's engine packed up and left for the coast. For the second half, they grabbed one of the extra Crown Vics on hand...only for that car to call it a day as well. Meanwhile, a battle between Gittin and McFarlane in the first half of the race carried over into the second half, when Busch and Bowman respectively swapped in for their turns behind the wheel. With KSR Performance and Fabrication's Kevin Smith jumping into the fray, the second half was a three-way battle for a first-place victory. Unfortunately contact and a cut tire for Bowman hurt his chances and the car never seemed to fully recover, leaving Busch and Smith to battle it out for the win. Trading paint down to the last couple of corners, it was ultimately a PIT maneuver that spun Smith out at the final exit from the chicane that allowed Busch to cross the line in first place. Smith took the incident with pride, saying, "Hey, if a professional NASCAR racer's gotta dump me to beat me, I'm pretty happy!" Busch, meanwhile, had a touch more trepidation, asking the crowd, "Was that a local guy? Am I okay?"
The next night was Cleetus and Cars, and the centerpiece of the show is the Australian-rules burnout competition that's held in the center of the Freedom Factory. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it's very simple: there is a box surrounded by concrete barriers, and within that box, drivers are not only allowed to nuke their tires off, but are encouraged to raise as much Cain as possible in the two minutes of time allotted. Just like LeMullets, the property owner and master of ceremonies is also a participant in the fun, but unfortunately Cleetus's luck ran out when "Toast", his Australia-proven third-gen Camaro, lost brakes when the bolts for the calipers rattled loose, leaving the Camaro stuffed nose-first into the barriers. Cooper Bogetti's Nissan and James Taal's GMC pickup put on excellent shows, and Bieri's "Independence" Chevelle put on a solid show, even after throwing the serpentine belt clear of the engine bay.
Cleetus prepares to kick off the burnout competiton in "Toast", his third-gen Camaro. Powered by a BluePrint Engines 632ci with a blower, the Camaro did well...up until the brakes quit and the car got parked nose-first into the concrete barriers.
The two stars of the show, however, had to be NHRA Pro Mod driver Lyle Barnett and Boosted Ride's Adam Kelley. Barnett, driving the Motion Raceworks "Bald rEgal" Buick Regal, decided that he wasn't going to be happy unless the shift light was permanently illuminated. He kept the G-body's engine screaming as he fogged the better half of the state of Florida for mosquitoes, and by the time his run was over there were two popped tires and eight glowing header tubes sticking out of the hood. His post-run celebration was just as wild as the two minutes of raw, psychotic burnout action he provided to the crowd. Topping Barnett's burnout was going to be difficult, but Kelley's "Deathtrap" Ford pickup truck was more than up for the challenge. The big-block Chevy spun the tires up so hard that he performed not one, but two fire burnouts, the likes of which are normally only seen at the wildest Australian burnout competitions. When Cleetus himself is personally coming out to tell you to shut it down, you know you've reached the top peak of insanity. Nothing was broken...that's just a testament to how wicked the Ford is!
There is one more event on Cleetus's 2021 schedule, the Christmas Tree World Championship on December 22, 2021. If we're correct, expect this to be a drag race with a bunch of holiday spirit strapped to the roof, hooked to the bumper, or wherever else wreathes, bows, or lights can be strapped to. These won't just be exhibition passes, either...last year's winner, Rick Prospero and his big-block Chevrolet-powered Mazda RX-7 earned the world record for a dragstrip pass with a Christmas tree attached (!) with a firstname.lastname@example.org MPH pass at Bradenton Motorsports Park.