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Gentleman, Start Your Engines?

Red Bulletin September 2011 24 Hours of LeMons Red Bulletin Magazine

It’s hot as hell at 10 a.m. in rural South Carolina in May. The Four Porschemen of the Apocalypse have bullhorns and are driving around the paddock blaring on about the Rapture that’s going to happen in eight hours, and the Tunachuckers can’t even focus on the imminent end of the world because their 1975 Ford LTD Landau isn’t running right.

Or at all.

It is, in other words, a fairly typical start to a 24 Hours of LeMons race.

The event is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the 24 Hours of LeMans, where teams of glamorous drivers -- the movie starred Steve McQueen, enough said -- and big-ticket manufacturers like Audi, Peugeot, Bentley, BMW, and Porsche test their mettle over an enthralling day and night in France.

By contrast, LeMons is a series that runs throughout the U.S., and this particular event -- the ’Shine Country Classic at the Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina -- has the je nais se quoi that comes with being located 25 miles away from the closest Wal-Mart.

Jay Lamm, the former editor of “Sports Car International,” founded LeMons in 2006 in Northern California as an upgrade to a one-off rally event in San Francisco -- the Double 500 -- which put $500 cars through a 500-kilometer (310.7-mile) race.

The first official LeMons event was held at the Altamont Motorsports Park; commemorative posters of the race, featuring a drawing of an overturned AMC Gremlin and a driver frantically running away from the car, are still sold as souvenirs. In 2008, it became a nationwide series, and the cult of LeMons was born.

Check out the September issue of Red Bulletin magazine for more of the article. To see it all, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.

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