However, that all took a turn in a radically different direction recently when Berger sponsored a four-man team in the 24 Hours of Le Mons (lemons) race held at Gingerman Raceway near South Haven, Michigan.
Although the race is patterned after the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans the only racing similarity is in the name. Unlike every other form of Motorsports, the idea here is to spend as little money as possible while having as much fun as possible.
In fact, The 24 Hours of LeMons is restricted to cars that were purchased, fixed up, and track-prepped for a total of $500 or less. A BS-Factor judging panel will dock entrants one lap for every additional $10 they think you spent on your car. It’s also a claiming race, meaning the organizers can buy your car after the race for $500 if they think you’ve been cheating.
The racing consists of tech inspection and track testing on Friday; endurance-race sessions on Saturday and Sunday; and breaks for sleeping, eating, and nightly bandage application.
It’s kinda like a loud, hot, noisy version of driving to work. For a really, really long time. Without actually getting anywhere. Oh, and it’s a little more dangerous.
The organizers usually get more applications than they can handle at each track so they have to pick and choose entrants. Boring applications don’t count for much. Applications like “Choose us, because we’ll wear beaver costumes in the paddock and our car is entirely coated in birch bark” give those prospective drivers and teams much better odds of being accepted.
Does all this fun come without fame and financial reward? Absolutely not! The Albert Gore Jr. Carbon-Neutral Cup, and other such venerable honors, are awarded each season. Some teams even win cash awards, however the organizers love to pay those cash prizes in nickels.
The team was driving a stock 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier that was freshly plucked from the back, back row of Berger’s Used Car Lot. To try and make the Cavalier look faster than it was, and maybe scare the competition, the car was given a “Days of Thunder” paint scheme.
Despite intensive preparation advice from Cole Trickle himself the car was knocked out after 14 Hours(!) of competition with a broken wheel bearing. For their effort the team placed a very respectable 10th in class and 25th overall. Unfortunately, they received no nickels for their efforts.
The race at Gingerman was just one of the 19 that is on the 24 Hours of Le Mons schedule this year. There’s plenty of time left this season for you to join in the fun. Go to 24hoursoflemons.com to learn more or to sign up.