The 2018 Lemons Rally season finishes up with one of the most epic American road trips possible: the Route Sucky-Suck Lemons Rally down the length of Route 66. The Mother Road. Main Street of America. It’s as richly steeped in American automotive tradition as just about anything and we’ll be sending dozens of hooptie cars down the road from Chicago to Santa Monica from October 27 to November 2.
Before the 24 Hours of Lemons’ roadgoing counterpart shoves off from Chicago, let’s tackle some of the big questions for those on the rally, for those who want to sign up last-minute, and for those wisely watching the insanity from afar via the internet.
What is this rally thing anyway?
This Lemons Rally—the Route Sucky-Suck Rally—spans the length of the legendary Route 66 over the course of seven days. Participants can score points (1) at the rally’s start based on the general hooptieness of their vehicles, (2) from checkpoints along the route, (3) from assorted (mis)adventures along the way, and (4) through the occasional challenges.
The winner is the person who amasses the most points, but like 24 Hours of Lemons races, winning really doesn’t matter too much. 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. Most importantly, the goal is to have a good time and see the country from the rust-tinted glasses of a terrible old car.
So all of Route 66…That should make the route easy enough to follow. What are the dates and overnight stops?
The rally begins at Autobahn Country Club near Joliet, Illinois, on Saturday, October 27. Rally teams will register their car officially and get assigned a starting score from the Rally judges, then be on their way from there. Here is the general itinerary, which does indeed include a stop in Las Vegas on Halloween.
October 27: Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MO
October 28: St. Louis, MO to Tulsa, OK
October 29: Tulsa, OK to Amarillo, TX
October 30: Amarillo, TX to Gallup, NM
October 31: Gallup, NM to Las Vegas, NV
November 1: Las Vegas, NV to California Desert Campground (near Barstow, CA)
November 2: Campground to Santa Monica, CA
Unlike previous Lemons Rallies, this one won’t deviate too far from the main route, but there are some (optional) detours and checkpoints.
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.
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 a brand-new Lamborghini Douchenozzla. 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, 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). Since this is Route 66, you might get extra points for exceedingly bad automotive examples of classic Americana. 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 rotten 1986 Cadilac Limo with only half a functioning transmission.
What kinds of things should I bring?
Besides the car, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and the paperwork to prove it’s insured, registered, 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). Search #LemonsRally on Instagram to get an idea of how it works.
We also recommend you bring lots of warm clothes, blankets, and tools to fix your jalopy. Some camping gear would be a good idea if you want to camp the final night (optional). It’s a good idea to bring food and a supply of water, as well. That should be about one gallon of water per person per day plus a couple of spare gallons because your heap will naturally overheat on a cold desert night.
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. A good stereo setup is a nice perk, too.
Will Roadkill be on this rally again and what kind of coverage will this get?
Sadly, Freiburger and Finnegan will skip this one, although Finnegan said he had a blast on the 2017 Retreat From Moscow Rally. We’ll take that as an endorsement of the rally. However, Lemons correspondent Eric Rood (the not-smart man who jumped into the ocean in January, above) will be embedding with Rally teams. Look for his coverage during the Rally on the Lemons Rally Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Keep an eye on the proceedings of all teams 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.
Who else is coming?
The entry list won’t be complete for a few weeks and is always subject to change when a car won’t start a day before the rally and so forth. At the moment, the paid registrants include a 1940 LaSalle Miller hearse, a 1929 Mercedes replica kit car, two more Volkswagen-based kit cars, at least 10 proper American land yachts, a Yugo, some classic pickup trucks, and two school buses. For real.
Yes! We have two more Lemons Rallies scheduled for 2019.
January 29 to February 1: Retreat From Moscow Rally (Moscow, PA-Pittsburgh, PA-Lexington, KY-Nashville, TN-Paris, TN-Birmingham, AL)
August 13 to August 17: Hell On Wheels Rally Monterey (tentatively Monterey, CA-Reno, NV-Fresno, CA-San Luis Obispo, CA-Santa Cruz, CA-Monterey, 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 an 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.