Winter days come short and frigid in much of the country now, which means it is time again for the winter edition of the Hell On Wheels Lemons Rally. In a month, teams will set off on the fourth edition of 24 Hours of Lemons-caliber hoopties traversing tough roads in difficult conditions.
Roadkill fans will remember Episode 63 of Roadkill, which was filmed at the first Hell On Wheels Retreat From Moscow Rally. This year’s winter rally kicks off again in Northeast Pennsylvania in Moscow, naturally, and should again feature dozens of clapped-out hoopties struggling in the cold. As we’ve done with the last two rallies, let’s answer some of the big questions, FAQ-style.
What is this rally thing anyway?
The Lemons Rally covers more than 1,500 miles across four days with points awarded (1) at the rally’s start based on the general hooptieness of your vehicle, (2) from checkpoints along the route, (3) from assorted (mis)adventures along the way, and (4) through special daily challenges, a new feature on the 2018 Lemons Rallies.
The winner is the person who amasses the most points but like Lemons races, the winners are only semi-important. Trophies are handed out for a variety of other accomplishments with the Organizer’s Choice taking top honors on the rally. Many participants will tell you that the Random Acts of Stupidity (naturally awarded for undertaking the most torturous, most circuitous, and consequently most entertaining routes) is the real top prize.
I like that you’re giving me goals here. I see that the start and end points are the same as last year. Will this be the same route?
Not entirely. The rally does indeed begin January 30 in Moscow, Pennsylvania, and end at the season-opening 24 Hours of Lemons race at Barber Motorsports Park. [SPOILER] However, while the Retreat From Moscow will again visit the Tail of the Dragon and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee, most of the checkpoints will be unique this year. Here’s the general itinerary:
January 30: Moscow (PA) to Virginia Beach (VA)
January 31: Virginia Beach to Cornelius (NC)
February 1: Cornelius to Nashville (TN)
February 2: Nashville to Paris (TN) to Waterloo (AL) with awards at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Alabama) during tech day for 24 Hours of Lemons’ season opener
You can get from Point A to Point B any way you’d like, but some routes to reach the checkpoints (which won’t be published until the rally’s start) might take you a bit off the beaten path. How far off the beaten path you go, of course, depends on how many points you want to chase on a given day. And some of them will require major, major detours.
What are the checkpoints?
It’s a bit of a secret because we want people to have to make their route decisions for the week after registration while they’re also trying to manage the first day’s route. You know, it keeps things adventurous. Every morning of the rally, however, we’ll post the day’s checkpoints—usually oddball or scenic landmarks (above)—on the Lemons Rally Instagram and Facebook pages for those following the rally from the warmth and comfort of home.
So what happens if the weather is crappy?
Since Buffalo isn’t in the plans this year, there should—in theory, anyway—be fewer chances to get blitzed by a Great Lakes blizzard. A little snow won’t change the route. However, should the weather turn extremely foul, Lemons Rally organizers will make adjustments as needed. Follow the official accounts on Facebook and Instagram for in-rally updates, including weather adjustments.
What happens if I get stuck in a snowbank anyway?
Eight out of 10 doctors recommend getting yourself out of the snowbank.
Is the Lemons Rally a race?
Hell no! This is not a stage rally or competition of speed. We’re obligated to tell you to observe all traffic laws and since all of the cars in the rally will have gigantic LEMONS RALLY stickers, rally organizers may very well dock you points for run-ins with the law. Additionally, you’re on the hook for your own tickets, arrests, legal costs, bartering cigarettes, and/or extradition fees.
Do I need to enter some decrepit hooptie?
You can bring almost anything you want—no motorcycles, sorry—as long as it’s street registered and insured. We know you’ll have fun in whatever you drive, though it’ll be a more authentic experience if you bring a Citroen or a Lada Niva instead of some Porsche Jerkmobile with heated backup cameras. Basically: The more you can thumb your nose at those presumptuous exotics rallies where some idiot always bends a half-million dollars around a light pole, the better you’ll fit in.
If you care about winning, bringing an exceedingly terrible vehicle will score major points at the registration judging (like a Concours event at the ass-crack of dawn in the freezing cold; check out the scoring here). However, if you just want to see the country and drive around with your friends without caring about winning, you can drive whatever you want. Of course, you’ll have more fun if you bring, say, a 1978 Lincoln Continental with three feet chopped out of it.
What kinds of things should I bring?
Besides the car, you’ll need the paperwork to prove it’s insured and not stolen. To get points for reaching checkpoints, you’ll also need a smartphone and an Instagram account to take pictures of your mascot (provided by yourself or by the Rally organizers). Following at home? Search #LemonsRally on Instagram for all of the content from this and the last rally.
We also recommend you bring lots of warm clothes, blankets, and tools to fix your jalopy. It’s a good idea to bring food and a supply of water, as well. That’s about one gallon of water per person per day plus a couple spare gallons because your heap will naturally overheat in -7 degrees.
Try to bring a friend if you have any, but you should make plenty of new, barely sociable ones on the rally. A CB radio may also be useful for communicating with other rally participants you find on the road; bring/install one of those if you can. The rally also traverses areas with spotty cellular and GPS reception so haul along an atlas or good paper maps if you have any room left.
Will Roadkill be on this rally again?
Sadly, Freiburger and Finnegan will skip this one, although Finnegan said he had a blast on the last one. We’ll take that as an endorsement of the rally. However, Roadkill and Lemons correspondent Eric Rood will be there writing it up, taking photos, posting to the Lemons Rally Instagram, and probably failing to sleep.
What kind of coverage will this get?
You’ll be able to find coverage here on Roadkill.com as time and internet connectivity allow. Keep an eye on the proceedings in real time via Instagram with the hashtag #LemonsRally and on the Lemons Rally’s own Instagram and Facebook accounts. We’re just gonna keep posting those links.
Sounds great. Where do I sign up?
Go to the Lemons Rally page and follow the link to sign up for the Retreat From Moscow Rally and other rallies this year.
Yes! We have two more Lemons Rallies scheduled for later in 2018. The summer rally will cover much of Southern California while the autumn rally will traverse Route 66 from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. Get your mid-century hooptie ready for that one and register early, because it may very well fill up!
Monterey Car Weeeeak, August 21 to 25
Monterey (CA) to San Pedro (CA) to Yuma (AZ) to Surprise Place (CA) to Monterey
Route Sucky Suck, October 27 to November 2
Chicago to St. Louis to Oklahoma City to Albuquerque (NM) to Las Vegas to Another Surprise Place (CA) to Santa Monica (CA).
Learn more about these rallies on the Lemons Rally website.
What if I think of even more crazy questions that are impossibly specific for a FAQ?
You can email Rally Boss Steve McDaniel ( Steve@24hoursoflemons.com) or Eric Rood (firstname.lastname@example.org) to alleviate your concerns about what kinds of tires will dominate the rally (probably four mismatched ones from at least 1991) or whatever else you want to know.