Fresh LeMons with ahhh… Strict Rules – For FUN!

24-hours-of-lemons-racers-Having FUN!Call them “lemons” or piles of crap or simply junk. Still, can you argue these guys are having fun racing them!?

I first heard about the Concours d’LeMons and took note because it was part of the super prestigious and maybe super “snobby” Monterey Concours Week including the world famous Concours d’Elegance. Dating back to 1950, we can’t hate on the big-daddy of Concours Week in Pebble Beach because they now include class “U” Hot Rods: Lakesters and Bonneville Racers. Gotta hit that show one of these days!

The 24 Hours of LeMons, an obvious play on the 24 Hours of LeMans, the worlds oldest endurance sports car race, the “Lemons” used in this race are cars worth not more than $500.  More than anything I’m wondering, what kind of cars get entered and when can I see this first hand?  Turns out, I’ll show you the cars here and see’m first hand in Phoenix at the kickoff event for the LeMons series at Firebird Raceway.

24-hours-of-lemons-race-variety of $500 cars racing on road course

Dubbed the Auction-Weekend Gavel-Tap GP in honor of the slew of high dollar auction that are part of Arizona’s Auction Week, the race is held on the 1.1 mile west course at Firebird. firebird-raceway-west-courseThe gates open early Friday, January 22nd for tech inspection, then race session 1 starts Saturday at 10AM continuing with session II at 9AM on Sunday.

If you’re thinking, “So what, junk cars racing, I see that on my drive to Maricopa every day.” then you should have a look at some of the rules and how they’re written. If the racing environment is even near as fun as the rules, this is a must see.

"24 Hours of Lemons" 3 wide racing on the track

First off, it costs $500 to enter and $100 per racer.  Not too bad if you’re in the race for a 3 days for a little over a grand. But what’s that get you?  The usual things, plus, “sweatshop-made commemorative crap, and anything else we come up with by then.” That sounds worth it…

Continuing down the rules, I was curious how they figure out the $500. What’s that include and not include? In straight forward Enlgish rule 4.1.1 explains:

Lame-Ass Rationalizations: Cars that “should be” worth $500 don’t count; cars that “were worth $500” before you spent another $2000 to fix them don’t count; cars you’ve owned for 20 years and spent more than $500 on during that time don’t count; “it would have been worth $500 if it didn’t already have a cage” doesn’t count. Five hundred dollars means five hundred frickin’ dollars.

To keep things safe, quite a few safety items are exempt from the $500. That includes Wheels, tires, wheel bearings, and brake components, so that helps, but from the pictures, it doesn’t look like folks are spending alot on high performance wheels.

24 Hours of LeMons-race:Volvo lemon racing

Just in case any questions come up or a team is just over the limit, the rules include a “BS Factor”.  At the end of the day, teams are trying to win by finishing the most laps, same as most endurance races. So the BS Factor penalizes 1 lap for every $10 over the $500 race car limit. The BS Factor panel of judges run a tight ship and as for appeals, “Get real. There’s no appealing this decision. You’re boned.”  You gotta go read the rules where you’ll also these fun rules:

  • 2.4: Whiner Eligibility.
    • “Whiners are not eligible to compete. If you believe that you might be a whiner, please check with a domestic partner, guardian, or health-care professional before getting the rest of your team kicked the hell out of the race.”
  • 6.1: Individual Lousy-Driving Rule
  • 6.2: Team Lousy-Driving Rule
  • 6.3: Why Am I Upside-Down?
  • 6.4: Touching a Temporary Barrier
    • “An automatic Lousy Driving Offense With Extreme Prejudice. (You don’t even want to know what that means.)”


The final couple rules keeping things honest is the “Claiming Rule” (self explanatory) and rule 1.6: Your Car May Be Destroyed at Any Time.  Through a blind ballot of all teams, one car is selected to be immediately and completely destroyed, right there at the track!

24 Hours of Lemons Race: Your car could be destroyed

Who knows why you’ll get picked but as the rules clearly state: “It could be your car. It probably WILL BE your car. You’ll have 30 minutes to yank out any safety items you want to rescue, and then it’s toast. Them’s the breaks. Don’t bring it if you ain’t OK with losing it.”

For the $20/day or $30/weekend general-access paddock passes, this sounds like fun on wheels like we haven’t seen since your church’s demolition derby.  Can you make it? See ya there!


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