There are some things in this world that need to be seen in person to be
truly appreciated. I'm talking about grand spectacles like the Egyptian
pyramids or the Taj Mahal. Or, seeing your favorite band play live at
an intimate venue. Well, a running of the 24 Hours of LeMons
is also one of those things that just has to be seen with your own two eyes.
Not to be confused with the long-running 24 Hours of LeMans, for which it takes its ironic comedic twist, LeMons is less about money or skill and more about the sheer fun and camaraderie of team motorsports. The lack of money involved to participate, and what's actually driven by the individual race teams, is where the "lemons" come in.
If you're not familiar with LeMons then here are a few things you should know. First off, the car itself can be almost anything as long as it doesn't cost more than $500. Yes, you're reading that right. I didn't accidentally leave off a zero or three. A race team is not supposed to spend more than five hundred bucks on their car. With that, you see some really random buckets on track, and so it's a good thing the staff at LeMons take safety very seriously. This means proper helmets, fire retardant race suits, driving shoes, roll cages, and the like. All are a must and therefore not included in the $500 cap.
In addition to the crazy mix of track-prepped automotive randomness, you'll see just as much variety in drivers. A LeMons weekend will have everything from a driver on track for their first go, to a well seasoned veteran race car driver at the wheel for their thousandth time. On top of all this madness, you have teams vying for the best "theme". These themes go from mild to wild, and extend from the car to the team members themselves. You'll have cars decorated like cows or rocket ships, and the team members dressed like cowboys or astronauts!
As you can see, the differences between your typical motorsports event and LeMons are many. Nearly everything is the exact opposite of your average race series; the cost and mere appearance of the cars, the average expertise level of the drivers, and the types of awards and prizes handed out. Given all of the differences, it's fascinating to see that the key ingredient remains intact - the sheer passion for the race.
Once I learned that a group of Audizine members based out of Arizona had formed a race team to participate in LeMons, piloting an '82 Audi Coupe, I just had to meet them and see their car. The Coupe was a Craigslist find by the sole female member of Audi Sport Racing, Sophia (Audizine username: starrkitten13
). After finding the car it was a matter of rallying the troops, bringing the car home, and ripping it apart in order to make it track-worthy. So what kind of Audi does 500 dollars buy you? As you might expect, not a highly sought after one. We're talking front-wheel-drive and turbo-less. Regardless, it's still an Audi, and the team is making the most of their chosen four-ring companion.
The unnecessary heavy bits such as the HVAC and rear seats were immediately removed and discarded. One of Audi Style Racing's first sponsors was Adam's Rotors
who provided some new and much needed braking bits. The required roll cage was built and secured in place, along with a helpful slough of gauges and gizmos with the help of another one of their sponsors, Speed of Sound
. The car's original paint has also been completely stripped and replaced with an in-house livery designed by Sophia and crew. A pair of customized headlight housings with LED running lights made of rope lighting has helped to round out the much improved and updated look. This all makes for what I feel (and apparently I'm not alone in this) to be the best looking most professionally designed car in the bunch. It's almost too good looking for LeMons!
I initially had the intent to write an article on the Audi Style Racing team and their previous run in LeMons at Buttonwillow Raceway back in December of last year. It was both their first time participating in the event and my first time as a spectator. Truth be told, neither of us really knew what we were in for. On my end of things I quickly realized that mere words and photos would do this wild weekend any justice. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. While I did take a few photos and spend a decent amount of time with the team, I decided to forego the article entirely and wait until the next race. This time though, I was sure to have a videographer along for the ride. Be sure to check out our video on the Audi Style Racing team and their run in LeMons Sears Pointless entitled, "A Weekend with Audi Style Racing
Documenting the festivities of the 24 Hours of LeMons on video is the closest one can get to actually being there, but it's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If LeMons ever comes to a track near you, if you ever get a chance to go, then do it. Do not hesitate. It will be one of the craziest things you will ever witness, and surely an experience you won't ever forget.
The following covers just a few of the highlights which unfolded for Team Audi Style Racing, who on this particular LeMons weekend, happened to be merely 1 out of a whopping 186 teams entered! Said race took place at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California the weekend of March 26th and 27th. It was dubbed by the LeMons organizers as "Sears Pointless". The crew on hand for Audi Style Racing consisted of 8 members; 6 drivers (the maximum) and 2 additional to make up the support team.
You have of course Sophia who I mentioned earlier, along with her fiance Nick S. (the only non-Audizine member of the bunch) who is one of the co-captains. There's the blogging social media maniac and the other Nick of the group, Nick R. (AKA: nnnick
). The other co-captain is Chris (AKA: CaptDistraction
). There are also two Matts on the team, Matt K. (AKA: MrPerfect
) who's a recent transplant to Northern California, and Matt S. (AKA: Whatset
). There's Craig (AKA: TSFI
) who acted as timekeeper and statistician for the weekend, and then the lead mechanic and tinkerer extraordinaire is Rob (AKA: Type44
). A 9th team member, who was away on business and therefore not present at Sears Pointless, is Blake (AKA: koolade9
This ragtag group of Arizonians all met on Audizine for the most part, forming the bond that many of us know quite well in our own respective regions of the world. First chatting on the forums and then meeting in person at local meets and get-togethers. They formed a connection over their love of cars, and more specifically, Audis. They found themselves meeting up more and more for drives, track days, grub, and beers. Nothing seems to have solidified that bond more quickly or more tightly than that old Audi Coupe though. It's a love hate relationship with their chosen race car, a car that seems to have done just as much for them as they've done for it. Something I don't think they even realize. That might just be the true beauty of LeMons.
Like most LeMons events, this particular race took place over the course of two days. The main event kicked off at 10:30AM on Saturday morning, the teams doing their best to put as many laps on the board as possible. As the number of completed laps went up, and the hours went on, the number of participants went down. With the sun inching its way towards the western hills of Northern California's wine country, Audi Style Racing forged on. While the car began running poorly towards the end, the flag came down signaling the close of day one, and the car and crew had survived without any major incidents or malfunctions. A team exhausted from a full day on the track, they mustered the strength to tinker under the hood for a few hours and prep the car for the second day of racing to come.
Day two started at 9AM with a team and a car ready to get back on the tarmac of Infineon Raceway. They wanted to improve upon their last LeMons by keeping the penalties to a minimum and running a consistent race. They wanted to see this one all the way through to the end, and hopefully finish the race in a better position than previous. As Sophia put it, "We're not out there to do the fastest lap and crash and burn. We want to bring the car car home. This is an endurance race, be smart, let's see that checkered flag." Like the last race though, the car got slower the longer it was out on track. The hotter things got, the fewer the number of cylinders that wanted to fire. She was going from five, to four, to three. The team had to do everything they could to keep the car, and themselves, in the race.
As the checkered came down on The 24 Hours of Lemons Sears Pointless the Audi Style Racing car was still out there! In fact, they were the first ones to pass under that checkered flag. It was a huge sense of accomplishment and relief for the team. This was especially true for co-captain Chris who felt fairly guilty for getting the final penalty of their previous race. A mistake which put an end to their day just an hour or so before the finish. Being out in the car once again at the end of this race and seeing that checkered come down in front of him was a big deal for Chris. It was a huge accomplishment for the entire team, this being their second ever LeMons event. When all tallies were in, Audi Style Racing finished in 91st position (again that's out of 186), accumulating a total of 227 laps!
So what's next for Audi Style Racing? Well, an event which will certainly challenge them and their little '82 Audi Coupe to the extreme. They'll be competing in the upcoming LeMons event in Reno on May 14th and 15th dubbed "Goin' for Broken". This one is a full 24 hours nonstop! I have no doubt that a lot of the cars entered in this coming race will definitely end up broken, battered, and DNF'd. Here's to Audi Style Racing not being one of those to get knocked out, and here's to them finishing the race even higher up the leaderboard than before!
To learn more about the guys and gal of Audi Style Racing, as well as The 24 Hours of LeMons, check out the team's wonderful blog at www.audistyleracing.com
. It has a wealth of information about the crew, their build of the car past and present, and it's where you can watch live feeds from their races. You can also follow the team on their Facebook page
as well as via their Twitter feed
Lastly I wanted to say that if you're at all interested in motorsports, whether it be participating or simply spectating, then do not hesitate to get involved. It can be one of the most rewarding and life changing experiences a person can have. It's one thing to watch an event on TV or your computer, but there's nothing like actually being there in person. This ranges from a few hours auto-crossing your car, to a weekend track event sanctioned by the likes of LeMons or NASA, to attending an ALMS race. The more people that get out there and actively support motorsports and their fellow enthusiasts such as Audi Style Racing, the better it is for us all.