What 24 Hours of LeMons Racers Drive In Real Life


As LongRoofian will attest, the parking lots at car shows and car races are oftentimes more interesting than what’s on the 18th green/track. Here are some of the cars and trucks I spotted in the paddock area and parking lot at Sonoma Raceway recently.

There has been a lot of talk about LeMon’s $500 price cap and how some of the more well heeled teams put the more grassroots-level teams at a disadvantage. I saw a team with a $250,000+ motorhome and it was not a rental, as it had an 11-99 Foundation license plate frame affixed to it. For you non-Californians, one obtains this frame by donating a sizable sum (at least $2,500) to a California Highway Patrol charity. Rumor has it (and I do not believe in this rumor, as I still have a modicum of respect for our law enforcement professionals) that the frame essentially grants you immunity from traffic citations.

But I digress. The diversity in income levels is a boon for me, the carspotter. From beaters to V12s to beater V12s, I get treated to everything.

Here at Hooniverse, a BMW E24 always takes precedence over a Lotus Elise.


An homage to tofu deliverymen.


From what I could tell, Telstar Logistics is a totally legit multinational conglomerate that specializes in atomic energy.


Perfect Porsche. Just perfect.


510 in the morning.


A globular cluster of Vanagons.


Bumperless Giulia.


I ran up to this, thinking it was a complete Subaru Brat.






For a video of what this SVX is capable of, check this out.



Images source: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

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39 responses to “What 24 Hours of LeMons Racers Drive In Real Life”

  1. craigsu Avatar

    The flaming/screaming chicken decals on the Dodge RV are a nice touch.

    1. SeanKHotay Avatar

      There's a twin of that Dodge RV sitting 5 miles from me here on the Right Coast.
      Sans screaming chicken decals I think tho…

  2. MattC Avatar

    Do you think that the 24 Hrs of Lemons has essentially grown away from its core principles? If so, do you think that another strictly low-cost racing series is in order?

    1. smokyburnout Avatar

      I think ChumpCar set out to be more serious, but now they're doing things like running a crazy Mexican street race and starting a series racing junk semis.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        You say "junk semis" like it's a bad thing.

        1. smokyburnout Avatar

          To be clear, I think it's awesome and I hope they have a race close enough for me to attend.

          1. MVEilenstein Avatar

            Just hassling you. I understand your point. Those can't be cheap to run, either.

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Depends on how you define "core principles".
      You can still get a total POS, put together a ridiculous theme and "race" it all weekend for cheaper than any other track time.
      The scrutiny on safety stuff has gone way up, which increases the cost…but it's still cheap racing.
      LeMons administration has, since shortly after the beginning, really enjoyed frustrating people who really want to build competitive fast cars and take the racing very seriously. Nothing's funnier than when someone gets all worked up about how many penalty laps they got while "those other guys in the ______ are totally cheating!". The judges giveth and the judges taketh away. Deal with it.
      IMO, the most fun you can have at LeMons is to get a genuinely awful example of a car that has some prayer of being kinda fast. Plan on running >3 races. You'll spend your first race or two learning and basically "racing" against breakage or bonehead driving.
      After you get a little bit of residual value and goodwill with the judges, you can build the car a little bit and find yourself having fun in competition with a Daihatsu for like 38th place.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Yep, well said. The more serious you take it, the less fun it will be, and the more you'll be subject to scrutiny!

    3. Maxichamp Avatar

      I'm not the person to offer an opinion as I have not followed the series closely at all. I do tangentially know a bunch of people on different teams so I'll do some off-the-record interviews.

      1. MattC Avatar

        I am not judging either since I have yet to be at a race. I love the concept but was curious if the series has stuck to these principles.

    4. parkwood60 Avatar

      No, it has just had to get a bigger rule book from a safety standpoint. As Murilee told me when the 850 BMW first showed up (and blew up during practice) Old German luxury cars are so complicated and trouble prone as they age that people will practically give them away when the electrical gremlins start to rear their heads.

    5. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

      Having just participated in my first LeMons race (in a '64 Ford Fairlane with frightening "handling" characteristics), I will say that there are definitely varying levels of seriousness among the teams. Not only is there room for genuine amateur teams (that would be us) with seriously crappy beater cars that have no business being on a race track (ditto), in fact the organizers and judges LIKE those sort of entries. It does mean that out on the track you have a very wide range of speed and handling capabilities among the cars, and a very wide range of driver experience, which can get a little dicey at times. You know that saying about how it is more fun to drive a slow car fast? That's true as long as you are not surrounded by too many people driving fast cars fast.

  3. parkwood60 Avatar

    Don't cheapen yourself with that fake digital depth of field, either leave the pictures as shot, or get a real SLR and use real DOF

    1. Maxichamp Avatar

      Thanks for the advice, except I have no idea what you mean. I just use an iPhone because it's convenient but it was hard to focus because of the lighting conditions at sunrise.
      I come from Longroofian's school of photography I guess.
      ETA: Do you mean the Instagram pictures?

      1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
        Dean Bigglesworth

        Artificially blurring parts of the pictures to make them look out of focus, clearly noticeable on the Giulia and SVX pictures. With a normal point-and-shoot or even an SLR on automatic mode, the whole picture would be in focus, with maybe the background getting blurry really far away. The easiest way to get a shallower depth of field would be to use the "aperture-priority" mode on the camera and selecting a larger aperture(smaller F-stop number).
        On a real camera you could could adjust the lens aperture to either having the whole picture in focus, or create a shallower depth of field, say everything between 1m and 1,5m from the camera is in focus, and closer or further away from that point is blurry. It depends on the lens but theoretically it is possible to choose a depth of field from anywhere between one atom(maybe smaller?) and infinity.
        Whether a part of the picture is in focus is determined by how far it is from the camera, not by where on the picture it is located. Using a filter such as blurring the top and bottom part on this kind of picture is distracting and makes the picture look unnatural. Filters and effects can be used for effect, but to make it look good is probably just as hard as learning to properly adjust a camera.

        1. parkwood60 Avatar

          Thank you. I was trying to find example and write an explanation, but you pretty much nailed it. The 2 pictures Dean mentions were done with some sort of filter that fakes a shallow depth of field to bring the subject into sharper focus, by blurring the parts of the picture the computer has determined to no be the subject. The only effect that is more over used these days in pictures of cars is whatever filter makes them look like they are in a video game and not IRL.
          In the SVT photo the wheel in the back is out of focus because it is low, but the body above it is in focus, even though they are the same distance from the camera. With a real camera focused properly and a shallow depth of field it would lok like this: http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/neillang/neilla
          In short, write the stories, take the pictures, but avoid the call of instagram.

          1. Sky_Render Avatar

            A general rule of thumb is to never use Instagram. Ever.

  4. LTDScott Avatar

    Any idea what team that Ranchero belonged to? I've seen it at multiple LeMons races all the way back to the first ones I attended at Altamont back in 2007.
    Sweet Travco motorhome.
    I wonder how many LeMons teams are run by "aficionados" of the brand they race? I know most of the BMW teams out there are full of people who drive BMWs normally and/or work on them for a living. I'm an exception to that rule, as I race a BMW, daily drive a turbo Mazda, and have a Ford "muscle" car to take out on the weekends.

    1. taborj Avatar

      Good question. I'd say the Vanagon crew up there fit the bill. They appear to have a Vanagon LeMons racer, and they definitely appear to be enthusiasts.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Stockholm syndrome.

    2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      That's just crazy talk.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I race mine as a way of thinning the herd.

    3. Maxichamp Avatar

      It's parked next to that very clean white and red RX7, but I'm not sure if they are connected.

    4. parkwood60 Avatar

      The Ranchero (barely) tows that beat to death old Alfa Romeo, the blue one with every body panel bent. When it rolled into Thunderhill the trailer hitch was practically dragging the pavement. He seriously needs to get some airbags or something.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Ah, Ecurie Ecrappe. Yep, they've been racing that same car for 5+ years now.
        <img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3073/5725083803_4c2b3ffe9b_z.jpg"&gt;

  5. Dacket84 Avatar

    I love Initial D!

  6. LSB Scott V Avatar

    Absolutely nutty looking 850 there. Do want.

    1. Dacket84 Avatar

      Me too! I found one near me for under $10k with a 50 LITER V12!!!!!!! 50!!!!!!
      BMW 850

      1. LSB Scott V Avatar

        Buy, buy, buy? Beware of those engine repair costs…that's about all that goes on this car.

        1. Dacket84 Avatar

          I heard that the V12 in these things are 2 i6's mated together. If one side fails the other will still Carry On.

  7. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Every time I see a Westfalia, I want one more.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      And then you try to merge at speed onto I-5, and that want lessens a bit…

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        Yeah, I'd probably change my tune. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  8. Sjalabais Avatar

    Didn't watch the entire SVX-video, but how could this even last 15 minutes in a country with a police density of the US? In cases like that, an EMP should be the weapon of choice.

    1. dculberson Avatar

      For some reason the cops were being really polite to the driver. They had multiple opportunities to just nail the car and they didn't. I'm sure the owner of the SVX thanks them for it, but it seemed like kind of overly low-key policing. At the beginning, the guy in the SVX is hanging a U-turn and the cop just stops and lets him finish!! Around here, they would have just nailed him as hard as they could to try to take out the car.

      1. Maxichamp Avatar

        The difference between Seattle PD versus LAPD.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Didn't even get that this was in Seattle. Would have expected something more like this happening:
          [youtube 0XVX2x6TT1w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XVX2x6TT1w youtube]