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Lemons weekend opens with a party

Posted: September 12, 2017 1:09 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Some people think of a 24 Hours of Lemons race as a party at the race track.

Well, one good party deserves another.

The 24 Hours of Lemons South Fall Race returns to the Carolina Motorsports Park in Westfall on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17. The two-day endurance race features less-than-professional drivers in less-than $500 contraptions. The race is always a good time to be had, as long as the car stays in one piece.

The weekend kicks off with the free Downtown Camden Block Party on Friday night in downtown Camden. The Lemons Parade of more than 150 questionable race cars -- and the teams crazy enough to drive them -- will begin at the Historic Camden at 6 p.m. and make its way to downtown Camden. 

Broad Street, between York and DeKalb streets, will be closed to through traffic from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for the Lemons Block Party/BS Judging event. 

The block party is free and open to the public and will feature the Josh McCaa Band on stage at Broad and DeKalb. A new Kids Zone at Broad Street Park will also include free activities, sponsored by the Downtown Camden Main Street Program, as well as outside vendors offering items for sale. As always, there will be creatively themed contests, driver antics, food, libations and general revelry.

The racing action itself starts Saturday morning at Carolina Motor Sports, located along Highway 521 some 16 miles north of downtown Camden, and continues through Sunday evening.

The 24 Hours of Lemons is a rolling comedic parody event/serious endurance race/honest to goodness auto racing circuit; Carolina Motorsports Park is one of a number of venues across the country that hosts a Lemons circuit event. The race takes its name from the world famous LeMans endurance races and the word “Lemon” used to describe a poorly maintained car. Technically, the event is a series of auto endurance races held at tracks across the country. Started in California in 2006 by Jay Lamm, it is for cars that cost no more than $500 to buy and prep for the race, hence, the word, “Lemon.”

Despite the premise --- a phalanx of rattling junkers circling a race track at crawl speed for hours on end --- the cars are actual race cars. The idea is to be creative and have fun, but safety is never compromised. In fact, the cost for the required safety equipment is not part of the $500 value threshold --- it is a separate requirement and does cost much more --- and each car will go through a very thorough technical inspection before they are ever allowed on the track.

The rest of it, however, is something else, say all involved. In fact, the Lemons website proudly proclaims:

“Endurance racing for $500 cars. It’s not just an oxymoron; it’s a breeding ground for morons. It’s where Pintos and Maseratis battle to lap a Le Car. It’s where first-timers dice with Nomex-soiling pros. Wanna watch? Heaven forbid, wanna race?”

There are awards given for a variety of achievements, from actual standings in the races to themes of the teams. At the block party, judges will check out each car and make decisions on what they believe the team actually spent on their cars. If a car looks to be worth more than $500, the judges will assess certain penalties, pretty much at whim and random.

However, the teams can counter that through certain accepted bribery tactics, such as plying the judges with liquor. It’s entirely possible for one car to be assessed so many penalty laps prior to the race that the team finishes in negative numbers for laps completed. It’s just as possible that another car with similar “violations” can incur no penalties at all – if the bribe is good enough.

The gates to CMP will open at 7 a.m. Saturday with the first race session being run from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

The action resumes Sunday with the second session of racing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., which will be followed by a quiet time and no racing until the third session which runs from noon to 4 p.m. The awards ceremony follows at 4:30 p.m. with the gates to the facility closing at 7 p.m.

Racing fans may buy all-access spectator passes to the event for $30 at the gate with those fans under the age of 16 being admitted free of charge.

For more information call (803) 475-2448 or visit Carolina Motorsports Park’s website at www.carolinamotorsportspark.com

For more information on 24 Hours of Lemons, visit the website at www.24hoursoflemons.com.


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