Racing for Laughs: The 24 Hours of LeMons

lemony-milano
Pepperidge Farms Remembers. From Murilee Martin

You’ve seen auto racing, or at least Top Gear* on TV, and maybe you’ve even been to a professional race. But did you know about the amateur races that are just as much fun, without the crowds? Those elaborate tracks can’t sit idle between the big races, so they host other activities like driving schools, track days, and amateur races in between. One of the most fun is the 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race.

The name LeMons tells you a lot. This is endurance racing for cars with $500 budgets and a big sense of humor. The organizers wanted to maximize fun and minimize cost, so they set a cost cap on the cars. How much did you pay for your last car? Use your imagination and picture the sort of cheap crapcans whirling around the track at one of these events. It’s all great fun, but the one really strict part is safety: teams spend more on required safety gear than on the rest of their car, and that spending doesn’t count toward the $500 limit.

Teams emphasize the absurd, either by choosing the worst cars to start with (a VW Vanagon race car?)…

 

Polizei Vanagon Action Shot 161204 post.jpg
This was one of two Vanagons on the track that day. The other one won.

 

…performing ill-advised engine swaps (a Harley motor in a Prius?)…

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“Probably Not OK” for the carpool lane. From Car and Driver

…or decorating the heck out of their car and wearing outfits to match (the Homer Simpson car, crewed by the Simpsons?)

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The Homer! From David Moore Photo

As a spectator, low entry fees get you into world-famous historic tracks like Sonoma Raceway (a.k.a. Sears Point or Infineon). In December at Sonoma, $30 bought you access to any seat you wanted, plus the paddock of teams frantically working to keep their lousy cars running. Even if you don’t care about a Porsche 928 hacked up to look like a “MAS*H” ambulance (who doesn’t?) it’s still worth the price of admission to see this amazing setting and watch a bunch of drivers, gearheads, and fans having a great time. It’s the most fun I’ve had at a racetrack without driving.

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Cue M*A*S*H theme music. From Murilee Martin

LeMons distils motorsports down to a lot of fun without a lot of unnecessary attitude and hassle. So, find a LeMons race near you! For more information, see:

The Official 24 Hours of LeMons Site

Murilee Martin’s LeMons Page

Have you been to LeMons, or better yet, participated (can I shake your hand)? Leave a comment below.

 

*Or the Grand Tour, whatever. Just stay out of Clarkson’s reach. That guy needs therapy.

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