If you're into motorsport shenanigans, then there's a good chance you have already heard of the 24 Hours of LeMons. If you haven't, you're in for a treat. This event started in Northern California in 2006 as a spoof of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. If you didn't know, Le Mans features high-caliber endurance cars that are designed to run reliably at peak performance with minimal downtime. Demanding? Yes, in every aspect of the event, from the mechanics of the vehicles to the pure physical stamina required of the drivers.
Not so much with the 24 Hours of LeMons. It's quite the opposite, requiring competitors to build a complete race car that's been prepped for $500. Believe me, there's no denying that the majority of these cars are on the verge of being tossed to the boneyard. If nothing else, it gives these poor things a final glorious run as a pseudo race car. The other difference is that rather than going for 24 hours straight, the racing is split into two heats (one per day), giving every competitor a chance to fix their junk should they need to and to go at it again the following day. In the end, the team who churns out the greatest number of laps is crowned the winner. Even better, the winning team is awarded $1,500-in nickels! Hmm, a nickel weighs approximately 0.5 gram. Anybody feel like doing the math on this one?
If you're interested in participating, then hit your local classifieds. Keep an open mind, and you'll find plenty of $500 contenders to fit the bill. The good news is that certain items, namely safety components, aren't dinged against you. This includes the rollcage, wheels, and brakes. Seriously, these alone can knock the budget out the door. Another trick for purchasing a slightly more expensive vehicle is to sell everything you don't use in order to recoup anything over the allotted limit. Other than that, strip everything out of the car, install a rollbar or -cage, and you just built yourself a first-rate race car. Pretty sweet, huh?
Since I'm not one to sit idle, we're entering a car with a few friends: Vince Stroud, Chris Little, and myself. What started as an innocent conversation online with Vince quickly escalated into a full-blown LeMons effort. Within 48 hours we had our car: one automatic '83 third-gen with later-model front fascia and skirts, aftermarket exhaust, an LT1 conversion, and a newer rearend with disc brakes. So far Vince has already stripped it down to the shell, unloading the center console and rear wing and even trading the carpet and T-tops for much needed suspension components. Our Chassisworks rollcage showed up last week. Assuming all goes well, you can expect to see us at the Goin' for Broken event on the weekend of May 22 at Reno-Fernley Raceway in Fernley, Nevada. For more information, drop by www.24hoursoflemons.com. Until then, we'll be thrashing away to make the race!