A Treasury of “Smokey and the Bandit” Team Themes in the 24 Hours of LeMons

It should go without saying that the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit had a profound influence on many of the drivers who compete in the hooptiest race series on the planet, and that means that lots of teams have converted their race cars into “1977 Trans Ams” and their least un-Bandit-like driver into “Burt Reynolds.” Let’s take a look at a sampling of those Bandit-themed teams, taken from the first decade of LeMons racing.

Most LeMons Bandit Trans Ams aren’t Pontiacs, but at least the Smokey Saturn and the Bandits team run a General Motors car to go with their cowboy hats and stick-on mustaches.

00 Hong Norrth 1
Some teams do a better job than others at dressing like the film’s characters during the car inspections. Here are some of the drivers from the multi-race-winning Hong Norrth team, in very convincing Snowman, Frog, and Bandit outfits.

Hong Norrth 2
The easiest part about making a Bandit Trans Am out of a LeMons car— in this case, the Hong Norrth Mazda MX-3— is the “screaming chicken” hood decal. Accurate, high-quality reproductions of this decal are available, but “good enough” counterfeits work fine for a LeMons car.

Can a BMW E46 3-Series become a Bandit Trans Am? Why not?

MSR 2010 1
Isuzu is a member of the GM family, so this Texas Isuzu Impulse (close relative of the Geo Storm) is a bit more “correct” than a BMW Bandit.

MSR 2010 2
This team dressed as most of the major characters from the film, including Big and Little Enos.

Utah 15
The aptly-named Smokey and the Bandits team turned a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro into a very convincing (at about 300 feet viewing distance) 1977 Trans Am, and raced it at the Return of the LeMonites race in Utah.

Utah 14 Screamin Chicken
The best part about this car is the hand-painted Screaming Chicken on the hood. That’s dedication!

As in so many things in the 24 Hours of LeMons, the Knoxvegas Lowballers annihilated the Smokey and the Bandit theme competition. They transformed their mid-engined Geo Metro into an amazingly accurate replica of the Snowman’s Kenworth semi.

No stick-on mustaches for the the Lowballer Bandit. Frog’s beard is real, too.

At a later race, the Lowballers created a Buford T. Justice-grade Pontiac police cruiser out of their Ford Contour SVT LeMons car. This car went on to become the Ken Block Hooptiecorn 1965 Ford Mustang.

If your team is considering a movie-car theme for your LeMons car, consider that Smokey and the Bandit themes have reached done-to-death status by now. We suggest that you consider a Sunset Boulevard Isotta-Fraschini replica instead. Don’t forget the wicker bodywork and golden rotary-dial telephone!

Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover