Buy a Car for $500 (Then Race It)

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After watching the California Mile, a 500-mile race composed of million-dollar classic cars, enthusiast and author Jay Lamm had an inspiration: Why not do the same thing, but with ghastly crap heaps instead? Thus, the wonderfully irreverent 24 Hours of LeMons (get it?) was born.

If you want in, the ground rules require enlisting four to six pals with driver’s licenses; a car that’s been bought and has the engine and transmission track-ready, all for under $500; and an online application. With events countrywide from Buttonwillow, CA (June 20–21), to Thompson, CT (Aug. 8–9), there’s one near you.
But remember, you need to be accepted. The key to making the cut, according to one race official: “Tell us why you guys would be cooler than all those other lame-o’s who applied for the same race.” So pool your money and hope for the best. And keep in mind LeMons rule No. 1.6: “Your car may be destroyed at any time.” 

Read on for the rules for racing right, from Nick Pon, associate perpetrator & grand answerer of general LeMons questions.

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On Picking Your Car

“Handling and braking are more important than horsepower. One of our guys found that the Volvo 240 and the Ford Crown Victoria are the two most successful models in LeMons. They may not be fast, but they’re steady.”

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On the Right Attitude

“Food, BBQ, beer, and positivity: Bring all of the above. If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.” 

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On Which Race to Run

“Doing Time in Joliet, at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL, July 25–26. It’s our first 24-hour event. Plus, it’s a members-only country club. When an Autobahn Lamborghini is sharing the paddock with a LeMons Pinto, it’s really quite a spectacle.”

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