Yes, it’s set ridiculously low at $500, but it’s a little more flexible than you might think.
If you haven’t ever seen the 24 Hours of Lemons, you’ve lived a boring and over-sheltered life. Honestly, it’s perhaps the funniest and most entertaining racing series out there. As the name implies, it’s a good-natured mockery of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. People enter $500 cars to battle in an endurance race, which doesn’t make sense at all. So many of the teams don’t finish because of catastrophic mechanical failures, which is really no surprise and is half the fun.
What’s really interesting to hear about is how the series enforces that $500 rule. After all, to anyone who knows the used car market even remotely well, it’s obvious a good number of the entries would be priced above that amount if listed on Craigslist right now. In fact, each one would be posted with the obligatory statement, “no low offers – I know what I have.”
Anyway, it’s nice to get some inside info from Jay Lamm, the organizer of the 24 Hours of Lemons on this $500 rule. He openly admits there are many cars in the series which look like they cost more than the financial limit. Then he lays out the three reasons why that is.
The first reason is that even though a car might not look like it’s worth $500, it really is. He specifically cites German cars that are older and have warning lights, which totals them. But all people see is a nice-looking luxury sedan and think it’s definitely worth more. Other cars have a flawed title, rusty frame, or they won’t pass inspection.
Then there’s the second reason: entrants can in fact race a car that’s worth over $500. If officials feel that’s the case, for every $10 they feel the vehicle value exceeds that limit, the team gets a negative lap in the race. This results in some teams just trying to finish with a positive lap count at the end of 24 hours.
Finally, the third scenario is that cars which are super cool or weird get a pass. After all, the 24 Hours of Lemons is all about having fun. It’s not serious racing, so everyone needs to loosen up and just roll with it. Besides, these cars aren’t even remotely competitive, meaning letting them race won’t change the results.
Check out the rest of the Jay Lamm interview below.
Pictures credit: YouTube