INAUGURAL NEW ZEALAND EVENT ATTRACTING GREAT INTEREST
The ugliest, slowest and cheapest field of race cars that New Zealand has seen will take over Hampton Downs in September.
Global sensation “24 Hours of LeMons” — a parody of the famous endurance race, 24 Hours of Le Mans, offers frustrated race drivers the chance to turn a wheel in anger without having to win Lotto first.
“The biggest differences between Le Mans and LeMons are relatively simple,” explains event boss Dr Jacob Simonsen, “LeMans is the most famous circuit race on earth, featuring incredible examples of racecar engineering and the best drivers in existence — and all in a beautiful setting.
“LeMons is a bunch of truly awful cars prepared and driven by a bunch of amateurs and raced in the wasteland between Auckland and Hamilton.
“It’ll be a hell of a lot more fun than the snooty French one — for teams themselves, but especially for the spectators,” he says.
For a year at the wheel in even the least costly race class, you’re still looking more than a decent annual salary — and that’s not to be competitive. The mammoth outlay required will simply have you stagnating at the back of the field like some slow loser in a wreck.
But thanks to the format of 24 Hours of LeMons, racing ambitions can be fulfilled. As a happy bonus, the car rusting on the front lawn can now be referred to as “my race car”.
Overseas events generally see groups entering funny themed vehicles — everything from movie characters to an upside-down Mazda MX-5 have been seen at LeMons races around the world, and a disturbing number of groups of disturbingly hairy men dressed as women. We’re choosing not to delve too deeply into that one.
Vehicles must be purchased for $999 or less — and yes, this can be difficult to prove. This is why an extremely imaginative group of adjudicators are on hand to dole out penalties (read: nasty punishments) for any racing-related disputes that may arise.
A few safety needs are mandatory — like a half rollcage and a fuel cut switch, all of which are detailed on the official 24 Hours of LeMons vlogs — which, along with a wide selection of our images from events around the world, are available online at 24hoursoflemons.co.nz.
Safety is paramount — as it should be — and LeMons has official dispensation from Motorsport New Zealand to do things slightly differently to the norm, based around Schedule A rules.
Overseas events have shown the vast majority of racers who don’t already have licence accreditation use the LeMons events as an annual group outing — like the tried-and-tested Kiwi Christmas fishing trip.
Full licence processes can be a bit daunting, so every effort has been made to keep this unique endurance race as simple as possible to be involved with.
“This is going to be a mind-blowing weekend for those who’ve always wanted to get out there and have a bash without having to sell the wife’s jewellery,” says Simonsen. “We’ve already got a huge number of registered entries, with the odd photo of a finished machine dropping into the 24 Hours of LeMons mailbox — and a massive number of spectator inquiries. It’s going to be huge — we can’t wait for September.”
The inaugural 24 Hours of LeMons race takes place between Friday, September16 and Sunday, September 18 at Hampton Downs.