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24 Hours of LeMons clanking back to Camden
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24 Hours of LeMons returns to Camden with a parade, car show and downtown block party Friday Sept. 16. 

For those unfamiliar with LeMons racing and the 24 Hours of LeMons event, Friday, Sept. 16 in downtown Camden may very well be regarded as something akin to a space alien convention.

In fact, there probably will be space aliens involved and present, along with Elvis, Cheech and Chong and almost anyone and anything else a bunch of fun-loving and happily twisted gear-heads and race enthusiasts can come up with, say those involved with the event. 

Racing action starts Saturday morning at Carolina Motor Sports 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.

If the judges accept a bribe, they will paint “bribed” on the car.

The party starts in downtown Camden on Broad Street between DeKalb and York Streets starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. The downtown event is free and open to the public.

Racing will be held Saturday, Sept. 17 at Carolina Motor Sports and again on Sunday, Sept. 18. 

Racing fans may buy weekend passes to Carolina Motor Sports for $30.

For more information call 803-475-2448 or visit Carolina Motor Sports Park’s website at www.carolinamotorsportspark.com. For more information on 24 Hours of LeMons, visit the website at www.24hoursoflemons.com