The 24 Hours of LeMons Sears Pointless charity race at Sonoma Raceway ‘ran’ the weekend 22-23 March 2014. Speedway Charities was the charity recipient, of funds raised in a variety of ways, including bribing the judges.
The event started with a special presentation by Mr. Doughnuts to Perpetrator JAY LAMM, “In recognition of the Awesome Carbon Footprint you have created.” This year’s entry was 176 cars, and another 100 had been turned away. Lamm received a beautifully crafted carbon-fiber foot print, the only award all weekend which wasn’t crafted out of used car parts.
The point of the event is to endurance race a specific number of hours each of the two weekend days in a crapcan (i.e. beater car, or a lemon) car with a $500 claiming price, excluding mandated safety equipment. Each car is categorized into Class A, B or C. The entries cover the entire spectrum of ordinary, outrageous, decrepit, unusual, banal, and odd cars, from sprint cars to Pintos, Maseratis to pickups, and everything in between. You think you’ve seen it all … until the next LeMons race. And that’s just the cars. The inventive mind is at work and the team names, themes, appearance and costumes must be seen to be believed. You can’t make this up.
The first event was at the now defunct Altamont Raceway in 2006. The event proved so popular it bred and spread, until now there are 20 held all over the United States, and the series has its own You Tube Channel.. There is one full-out 24-hour race each year.
Twice the organizers have claimed a car. The entry fee equals the car cap. There must be four-six drivers per team. The organizers decisions are final. “If you don’t like it, tough.” There are judges, complete with black robes and wigs, who make and enforce all the decisions. Underneath the robes are vests with all their LeMons merit badges. Monetary prizes are awarded, with Lamm decreeing that each year it will be paid with the most useless currency. This year took the prize – Bitcoins.
The overall and Class A winner was Porch Racing No.942, a Porsche which incurred no penalties – no easy feat. It won $400 in Bitcoins. Class B winner went to No.71 Sonoma Boys VW 130A, for which the ‘boys’ – in Speedos and Tshirts, won $500 in Bitcoins. Class C winner was Pinewood Dirtbags, a troop of adults fully decked out in Boy Scout uniforms complete with merit badges, winning $600 in Bitcoins for their Chevy Loves Trucks.
The coveted awards are varied, include the Organizer’s Choice, I Got Screwed Award, Most Heroic Fix Award; Judge’s Choice; Marin County Award … and well, you get the picture.
Perhaps the grandest of the awards is The Index of Effluency Award to a car considered most unlikely to finish the race at all, much less with a respectable number of laps,i.e. an underachiever which over-achieves. This year’s winner was a 1961 Rambler run by Panting Polar Bear Racing from Sacramento CA. It’s car number was probably somewhat accurate – 78.5hp. The car caught the attention of many, including local Fox TV affiliate, and sportscaster JOE FONZI of KTVU in Oakland. He loved the 1961 Rambler, and was convinced the white paint was stock. Before the race was over, Fonzi was going for his smart phone, saying “I love the Internet, you can find anything on it” and Googled Rambler paint colors for that year. Sure enough, as the owners later confirmed, it was stock. The car was found on Craig’s List – as are many of the LeMons cars. It ran a flawless race with no accidents or penalties, and it only used one quart of oil!
Heroic Fix Award went to the Frankenzia 2 Many Wheels Team, consisting of motorcycle racers running their first automobile race. The car was so bad it was given to them. The motor blew 31 laps into Friday practice. They worked all night to install a second motor and ignored helpful advice from sidewalk mechanics about the clutch blowing up, and Saturday the clutch and gearbox failed. They slaved on and fixed the car again.
The Marin County Award, for the Gentrification of LeMons went to the car the Judges felt most represented Marin County, one of the toniest and eco counties of California. The winner was a full electric Toyota Prius.
The Judge’s Choice Trophy ultimately went to one of the Sonoma Boys entries, the Hella Shitty Nein-11 hunk of an old Porsche, with a Jetta engine, which was designed to be as offensive as possible to Diesel purists. The car started out as a rolled 911, gutted for its drive train. The shell was a LeMons car just waiting to be built, and so it was.
The Organizer’s Choice Trophy, for the team which best represents the friendly spirit of the race, was awarded to the car which made Lamm laugh the most, #203 Directionally Challenged Racing, another Prius decorated with many humorous decals.
The I Got Screwed Trophy went to No.148 Mustang Cobra. The former race car car had been in storage for 25-30 years. Out of the kindness of their hearts, the team allowed an 18-year old high school student on the team, so he could write an article for his school paper. about an hour into the race, the kid got in, ran half a lap before he stuffed it into the wall. The team beavered away and got the car back into the race ten minutes before the Checkered Flag. Lamm thoroughly and humorously humiliated the lad in Victory Circle, who took it all in stride.
One of the more popular cars was No.89 Homer Simpson car, complete with family and loud tunes.