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Car preparation

IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE

The 24 Hours of Lemons gives everyone from novices to pros a chance to race on the cheap – and a chance to build a car like they’ve never built before. Whether you’re an expert or newbie, it pays to read the rules closely and tackle this stuff step-by-step.

“Lemons” is all about making crappy cars ‘go the distance’ — you’re not a true gearhead if you don’t enjoy watching a rusted-out Volvo dice with a barn-find Corolla. But remember, a crappy car can bite you just as fast, if not faster, than an F1 ride. That’s why the bulk of your Lemons build is likely to centre on mandatory safety improvements, and why safety stuff doesn’t count toward the $999 limit. It’s also the reason we make every car go through a full tech inspection (scrutineering) before every race: if you cut a corner somewhere, our inspectors are just dying to catch you.

For rookies, the list of mandatory upgrades might seem intimidating, but remember that nobody expects you to do it all by yourself. Just take it one step at time, ask questions about things that confuse you, and you’ll see that it’s not all that hard, or expensive.

If you’re just starting out, set aside some time and money for high-quality, professional assistance on big stuff like the rollcage. (If you just rely on your old drinking buddy Jimmy to zap up a cage with his $200 home welder, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll botch it up or violate his parole before finishing it)! But remember, we said “high-quality” professional help. We’ve seen cages from “Joe’s House of Racin’ Stuff” with lousy welds and improper bends too.

There are several key areas Lemons’ tech inspectors will be focusing on during scrutineering:

  • Roll cage (does NOT have to be MSNZ homologated, but you can if you want)
  • 1 piece (molded) Driver’s seat
  • Racing harness/es
  • Fire extinguisher (in reach of ‘strapped-in’ driver)
  • Kill-switch (in reach of ‘strapped-in’ driver)

If you are uncertain how to proceed don’t wait until Scrutineering to find out you guessed wrong; ASK!!!

Keep reading to learn about these one by one. Just remember, this is car racing, not rocket science: A Lemons build isn’t that different from any other roadracing series’ requirements, and if those dorks can handle it, so can you. Best of all, once you’ve done it, you’ll either be able to re-use the same car again and again, or knock out another one in a quarter the time. We’ve seen some Lemons machines compete in eight or nine races without major updates. Apparently, some people just love the punishment.

Give yourself plenty of time, familiarize yourself with the rules, and enlist expert help where needed. Next thing you know, you’ll be on the grid — and probably wondering why you didn’t just take up garden-gnome garroting as a hobby.

Overwhelmed by all this tech stuff? Drop a line info@24Lemons.co.nz

DRIVER COMMUNICATIONS

We will supply you with an in-car radio receiver, so we can sing ABBA songs to you during the race, or tell you how wonderful you are at handling your beast (chortle)! We do suggest you purchase 2 radios (walky-talkies) for driver communications with your team if you want to relay any important info to your pilot. Your radios can plug into OUR radio so you can use one earpiece for both.

TRANSPONDER

One of the most frequently asked questions about Lemons is “How do you count the laps?” After responding “C’mon, does it really matter?” we’ll tell you that we keep track of laps using electronic transponders mounted in each vehicle. The transponders work more or less like supermarket checkout scanners, except that they cost close to $1,000 each and we’ll have to charge you if you break one—more on that later.

The transponder system scans the car from the bottom, with a signal traveling from the transponder in the car to a receiver loop embedded in the track surface. The transponder can be mounted anywhere in the vehicle, but we recommend it is close to the floor, and where it won’t get damaged in an accident—don’t stick it on your bumper or anywhere else on the perimeter of the vehicle. The outer surface of the spare tire well is often a good spot, as is the rear passenger-compartment bulkhead–again, for best results, the transponder should protrude slightly from the bottom of whatever surface you’re mounting it to.

Regardless of where you mount it, it should be securely attached—usually, three or four sturdy zip-ties will do the trick.

Finally, remember that if your transponder comes back broken (or not at all), we’ll charge you the full replacement cost, which might be more than your entire Lemons car is worth.

EXTINGUISHER

All Lemons cars must be fitted with a DUAL CLAMP mounted fire extinguisher which must be positioned so that a fully harnessed driver can reach and remove it—practice this before the race.