June 24, 2024

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How to Win a LeMons Rally, the Rally Series for Misfit Cars

How to Win a LeMons Rally, the Rally Series for Misfit Cars

The best way to see America has always been via a slow, scenic, and meandering route, and what’s slower than a car that overheats if you go faster than 60 mph? Welcome to the LeMons Rally, the cross-country rally race for cheap and strange cars.

Destinations skew toward weird roadside Americana, encompassing geographical wonders and man-made oddities alike. The rallies are group travel for hooptie fiends. As an offshoot of the wacky 24 Hours of LeMons, the LeMons Rally shares the same spirit as its endurance racing counterpart.

While it’s fun to show up in anything you have and just drive the route—the event even has a special class for rental cars—going for the overall win is the ultimate accomplishment. Want to dominate at a future LeMons Rally? Here are a few tips that ought to improve your odds of doing so.

how to win a lemons rally cars

Stef Schrader|Car and Driver

Pick the Right (Wrong) Car

Your choice of car is worth a gargantuan amount of points, so it’s almost impossible to take the overall win without entering something exceptionally weird or interesting. Fortunately, the LeMons Rally has a scoring sheet to clear things up: Warsaw Pact cars net 250 points, while kit cars that use Volkswagen Beetle pans receive 300 points. On the other hand, entering a shiny media car results in a deduction of 2500 points.

Using a Beetle pan as the basis of your strange home-built creation is not the only way to accrue plenty of points, though. One past LeMons Rally winner, the Wedge, used the underpinnings of an old Pontiac LeMans as a base.

If the points gap between two competitors is practically nonexistent, then the vehicle entry that’s proven more difficult to make its way to the event’s finish line often ends up on top.

commit to a bit lemons rally ford mustang convertible yellow dot

Stef Schrader|Car and Driver

Commit to a Bit

If there’s one thing the LeMons Rally judges love, it’s a good theme. Not only is it worth a lot of points toward an overall score to, say, do an entire winter rally dressed up as a road crew while driving a Department of Transportation-themed Ford Mustang convertible with a front-mounted plow, but good themes can score LeMons Rally competitors one or more of the various awards the event’s judges hand out.

how to win a lemons rally

Stef Schrader|Car and Driver

Map It Out

It helps to plug every LeMons Rally checkpoint into Google Maps before you leave for the day. You can easily drag and drop the order of different stops around to prioritize the places you want to go the most and skip the others if your car is just too slow.

Mapping everything out beforehand is a good way to spot extra stops along the way, too. If the rally route goes by something you’ve always wanted to see, then make the detour! Document your side quests on social media with the tag #lemonsrally to get some potential bonus points. The LeMons Rally is very much a choose-your-own-adventure event—as long as you make it to the finish line on time.

While you’re mapping things out, you may as well give the event’s informational packet a thorough read, too. After all, there’s nothing worse than finding yourself disqualified from a LeMons Rally because you inadvertently broke a rule early in the journey.

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Stef Schrader|Car and Driver

Make Sure the Judges Understand Your Story

Looking to earn some additional bonus points or net an award or two? Then you better have a good story to tell.

Did you drive across the country to participate in the LeMons Rally? Are you a 16-year-old kid toughing it out with your dad in an MG Midget? Is your theme a little obscure, but funny to whoever gets it? Exactly how sketchy or last-minute was the purchase of your vehicle? Awards are subjective, so make sure to keep the judges attuned to your LeMons Rally-related stories.

silver volkswagen at lemons rally

Stef Schrader

While it’s possible to make things easy on yourself by entering a nice and comfortable modern car in a LeMons Rally, this sort of behavior is not going to get you a place on the podium. If you want to win, then you need a vehicle that caters to the ethos of this event that’s all about driving sketchy cars to faraway places.

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