SOUTH HAVEN — The LeMons are back in town for the usual round of silliness and cheap auto debauchery with the 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race at GingerMan Raceway.
Junk cars of $500 or less hit the track at 9 a.m. today for the Rust Belt Grand Prix and will race till 5 p.m. before finishing up on Sunday.
But the wackiness doesn’t end there. The LeMons are also hitting the road for the Four-Bangors Banger Rally.
The six-day race begins Monday July 1, starting in Bangor, Mich. From there, drivers will travel to Maine, New York and Pennsylvania, with the route running through their respective Bangor cities before returning to the starting point in Michigan.
“We start by figuring out what part of the country we want to go to and then we find things along the way that define the concept,” Eric Rood, whose official title is Everything Bagel, said. “We knew we wanted to start in Michigan because we already have people here, so we settled on Bangor. Then we wanted to go extreme and decided to head to Bangor, Maine next.”
Any street legal car is eligible to participate in the race. However, special points are given for older model cars. Listed on the LeMons website, cars that are pre-1950s are given 250 points at the start. Vehicles made in the ‘50s are given 200, 1960 models receive 170. Cars made in the 1970s and ‘80s get 100 and 75 points, respectively.
“We have a scoring system at the outset based on how crappy your car is and when it was built. Then it becomes a scavenger hunt,” Rood said.
Unlike the endurance race, where cars are awarded for simply being able to complete the race, rally teams are given points at the end of each stage. Teams can receive points for finishing the day and completion of challenges. They can also earn points for creative repairs.
Teams receive updated routes before the start of each leg, ensuring no team gets an early jump start. Each route includes checkpoints that can be anything from historical markers to grocery stores.
“One of the checkpoints we had in California was a bunch of electrical boxes out in the desert,” Rood said. “The objective is to send people to out of the way things. We do all the scoring via Instagram. Every team takes a picture of the checkpoint and then tags us through their Instagram. Then we do the scoring.”
Judges are a typical staple at LeMons events. In the endurance races, judges issue penalties for unsafe driving and hand out punishments that range from bribes to timeouts. On the road, however, local and state police are the judges.
“The penalties are dished out by the police,” Rood said. “We aren’t trying to make it a cannonball run. We are sending people out in terrible cars and hoping they survive, so it’s more of a road trip type of thing.”
Rally events are relatively new for the LeMons crew, but they are growing in popularity among drivers.
“The rallies are smaller because it’s a huge commitment,” Rood said. “This is a six-day event over the Fourth of July weekend. It’s something we’ve started about two-and-a-half years ago. This is our ninth rally (this year) and we are still building them and attracting people.”
Contact: acrider@TheHP.com, 932-0371, @HPAaronCrider