Driving the car that embodies racing's most topsy-turvy series
This is an article from the Aug. 19, 2013 issue
The 24 Hours of LeMons promotes itself as auto racing that's "not just for rich idiots," but "for all idiots." While idiot is too strong a word, there is a certain high-octane wackiness to the series, which features amateur drivers (anyone with a street license and nerve) piloting vehicles that may not cost more than $500 (mandatory safety equipment doesn't count toward the total, and gamesmanship is rampant) in endurance races on road courses across the country.
As SI's motor sports editor, I wanted to get to the bottom of this growing phenomenon—dubbed Halloween meets Gasoline, LeMons will put on 20 events this year, up from one when the series debuted in 2006—which is how I found myself in an upside-down Camaro barreling around New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville last weekend. The Camaro (actually a 1990 Ford Festiva under a Camaro body) is the creation of LeMons masterbuilder Jeff Bloch. An officer with the U.S. Park Police in Washington, D.C., Bloch, known in racing circles as Speedycop, has also put a Cessna on the racetrack and says he's already dreaming of how to, er, top the Camaro.
My first race went by in a blur of adrenaline—as most of the other 100-plus cars on the track went by me in a blur of smoke—but at least I could say I brought the car home right-side up. I mean, upside-down. I mean....
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
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