The 24 Hours of LeMons California

LeMons car race

To win a major car race, you’d generally need one of the newest cars, fastest engines, best parts and the kind of complete dedication only a professional has. This holds true for Formula 1, NASCAR and other races, but not the 24 Hours of LeMons.

The series of endurance sports car races made its way to the Sonoma Raceway (or Sears Point) earlier this month for its annual winter race, known as the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza. That should give you an idea of what the atmosphere at these events is like.

What is LeMons?

The 24 Hours of LeMons is a race that takes place at multiple tracks across the United States. It is not to be confused with The 24 Hours of LeMans, the prestigious French race whose name this one parodies.

Try switching the capital M in the race’s name for a lower case one, and you’ll get a better idea of the type of cars that compete in the LeMons. They’re all lemons.

Founded by author and editor Jay Lamm in 2006, organizers describe it as “kinda like a loud, hot, noisy version of driving to work. For a really, really long time. Without actually getting anywhere.” It is the sort of race that will really put what people learn in mechanic courses to the test.

The rules include:

  • Cars and maintenance on them must cost no more than $500 US (excluding brakes, wheels, tires and other approved safety equipment)
  • Cars must have four wheels (good to know)
  • Cars must have been legal for highway use at the time of manufacturing
  • Teams are docked one lap for every $10 the LeMons Supreme Court determines they have spent over the limit
  • Organizers have the right to buy any car for $500 after the race is over (but that’s probably a good thing. Even the most skilled auto sales college graduate would have a hard time trying to sell these clunkers)

What Happened in California?

This year, the annual LeMons winter classic, running since 2007, delivered. The A bracket was dominated by the 1989 Porsche 944 belonging to Porch Racing while a 1984 Volvo 245 wagon with a very interesting automotive painting job won the B bracket for a team called The 42 Hours of LeMons.

Those are just the winners, though. At LeMons, winning isn’t always the most interesting thing that happens. Here are some of the highlights:

  • One innovative team won the Most Heroic Fix award for using a mix of metal tubing and beer can metal to create oversized crankshaft main bearings
  • One of the cars racing, an Audi wagon, already had star power: it was in the newspaper for being banged up in a police chase before it was converted into a LeMons lemon
  • The LeMons Supreme Court decided that rulebreakers had to rip parts off an old Mitsubishi to be hung on the penalty box Christmas tree

This video offers a pretty fun summary of what happened:

Do you (or have you ever) owned an awesome lemon you think could compete in the next LeMons? Tell us the make and model.

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