- the 24 hours of lemons racing series has announced its 2020 racing schedule. the series has grown to 24 races in the u.s. and has even spread to australia and new zealand.
- lemons was created as a smile-inducing antidote to the high cost of serious amateur and professional sports-car racing. teams are required to compete in a car acquired for no more than $500.
- lemons features some of the most innovative and humorous examples of the backyard mechanic's art.
the ever growing and wildly entertaining 24 hours of lemons series has just released its 2020 race schedule, which includes 24 races that run from february to december across the u.s. yes, we know that it says lemons and not le mans; this racing series is for the tawdriest track-ready vehicles the world has to offer.
now in its 14th season of low-budget, high-action racing, 24 hours of lemons is a cheap and extremely accessible way to enjoy participating in sports-car racing. if you have a driver's license and a car that you've bought for $500 or less that can be made race ready—you'll have to add a full roll cage, competition seatbelts, and a fire-suppression system—then all you need to do is register on www.24hoursoflemons.com.
lemons was started in 2006, with the inaugural race taking place in california at altamont speedway. since then the organizers have put on 225 races. recently, they have also branched out into road rallies, which are known as lemons rallies, and car shows for beaters, which are called concours d’lemons—a play on concours d’elegance. lemons has also expanded outside the united states, with similar events that take place in australia and new zealand.
what's the point? as one participant put it, "we love real stupid-ass cars being raced on a road course." or, as it says on the lemons website, "racing shouldn't just be for rich idiots. racing should be for all idiots."
you'll definitely see some weird and wonderful vehicles circulating in lemons races, but, as with all racing series, as time has gone on it's gotten more serious. the front-running teams may have started with a $500 car, but they've also applied massive amounts of shade-tree mechanical engineering to their vehicles—lemons prizes homemade upgrades—so the winning vehicles tend to drive a lot better than they look. and a lot faster.
multiple car and driver staffers have participated in 24 hours of lemons events through the years. road test editor charles dryer and senior editor rich ceppos competed as recently as early october at gingerman raceway in south haven, michigan. they finished eighth out of a field of 97 starters in the tony swan never say die memorial race, piloting a well-worn 1988 honda prelude.
they were driving what might be the most-raced honda in history. former c/d executive editor tony swan bought the 'lude with 163,000 miles on it in 2010, named it hell kitty (a play on the popular "hello kitty" line of kids' merchandise), and proceeded to race it dressed in car and driver livery. after nearly a decade and a spotty finishing history, hell kitty has accumulated something like 15,000 competition miles (and went through a couple of engines and several transmissions in the process). it could be heading off for a well-earned retirement. or not.
when swan passed away last year, lemons series boss jay lamm declared the fall gingerman race would be named for the often irascible but always lovable swan. this year, swan's wife, team captain mary seelhorst, brought some of his ashes to spread at the track. lamm suggested putting them in a cup duct-taped to the car and letting them randomly disperse throughout the race. the memorial race is a fundraiser for cancer research, and seelhorst says this year's race raised $7400. lemons has that kind of family feel.
the 2020 calendar takes lemons across the united states next year. if you're lucky, there'll be one near you. get registration information on the lemons upcoming events page.
- feb 1–2: shine country classic, barber motorsports park (leeds, alabama)
- feb 29–mar 1: la carrera arizona, inde motorsports ranch (willcox, arizona)
- mar 7–8: yokohama tire big willow weekend, willow springs raceway (rosamond, california)
- mar 28–29: cain't git bayou, nola motorsports park (new orleans, louisiana)
- apr 4–5: doing time in joliet, autobahn country club (joliet, illinois)
- apr 18–19: the pitt maneuver, pittsburgh international race complex (wampum, pennsylvania)
- apr 25–26: southern discomfort, unwisely presented by yokohama tire, carolina motorsports park (kershaw, south carolina)
- may 30–31: yokohama tire days of thunderhill, thunderhill raceway park (willows, california)
- jun 6–7: the b.f.e. gp, high plains raceway (deer trail, colorado)
- jun 13–14: the real hoopties of new jersey at hooptiecon, new jersey motorsports park (millville, new jersey)
- jun 27–28: rust belt gp, gingerman raceway (south haven, michigan)
- jul 25–26: pacific northworst gp, the ridge motorsports park (shelton, washington)
- aug 8–9: gp de lac chargoggaggogg(etcetera), thompson speedway motorsports park (thompson, connecticut)
- aug 22–23: heartland parked, heartland motorsports park (topeka, kansas)
- sep 12–13: the lemons block party, carolina motorsports park (kershaw, south carolina)
- sep 19–20: high plains drifter, high plains raceway (deer trail, colorado)
- sep 26–27: the minneapolis 500, brainerd international raceway (brainerd, minnesota)
- sep 26–27: button turrible bafflingly presented by yokohama, buttonwillow raceway (buttonwillow, california)
- oct 3–4: smells like amc spirit, the ridge motorsports park (shelton, washington)
- oct 10–11: the tony swan never say die memorial, gingerman raceway (south haven, michigan)
- oct 17–18: halloween hooptiefest, new hampshire motor speedway (loudon, new hampshire)
- nov 14–15: yokohama tire stuntin' & splodin' soiree, msr houston (angleton, texas)
- dec 5–6: yokohama tire arse-freeze apalooza, sonoma raceway (sonoma, california)
- dec 12–13: the kim harmon scrotium 500, road atlanta (atlanta, georgia)