I know that most of you reading this will see that the 24 Hours of Lemons is making a special Electric Class and immediately think “Wow, I guess electric cars are shitboxes now. So this is what the future feels like.” And, really, that’s the whole point. If there’s anything in the automotive world that says that EVs are here to stay and are now part of the broke-ass gearhead toolkit, it’s their own category in a Lemons race.
The 24 Hours of Lemons organization even makes the bold claim that
“Best as we can tell, the Lemons Electric Class Presented by AltThusiast is the first time all-electrics will go head-to-head against internal combustion machines in endurance racing.”
Sure, it’s likely that the entirety of their research was thumbing through some old early-1990s copies of Road & Track in a methadone clinic waiting room, but I think it’s a pretty believable claim.
Here’s what the important parts of the new Electric Class are:
- Powertrain systems and energy storage don’t count toward the $500 cap.
- Recharging is done in the same area as refueling.
- Battery swapping is legal.
- Special electric-car rules are now live: See Section 3.L of the Rulebook.
- The first all-electric vehicle to win a Lemons race overall will be paid 1 million nickels—ie 50 grand cash, ie 5½ tons of money.
The rules also mention that your $50,000 in nickels—that’s 11,000 pounds of money—will arrive at your garage (or, I guess, condo, apartment, house, hotel room) by dump truck.
The EVs can be either production models or cars converted to EVs. I suspect that pretty much anything will have to be extensively modified, mostly to include the ability to swap battery packs, which is really the only sensible way to keep an EV going on the track without pit stops that take an hour or more.
I reached out to Jay Lamm, the Chief Perp of the 24 Hours of Lemons, to ask him why he decided Lemons needed a special EV category.
“Because enthusiasts need to know that EVs are a boon, not a threat. I was just in the shower and thinking about this, and thought, man, that’s a great encapsulation: People think they’re a threat, but they’re not. Someone needs to make them understand it’s a boon for enthusiasts all the way around.
They’re fast, you can get a car that drives as smooth as a Rolls-Royce for 30 grand with EVs! To segregate them out is ridiculous and a missed opportunity.”
You know, I absolutely agree with Jay. There’s no reason why cars powered by electrons shouldn’t be embraced by every glorious oil-drunk loon that thinks endurance racing a $500 Geo Metro with the a turbo made from a Cuisinart is a great idea.
EVs are becoming more and more common, and it won’t be long before clapped-out, cheap-ass Nissan Leafs and partially-burned Teslas start to become viable Lemons options.
You also may have noticed that the Electric Class is “presented by AltThusiast,” which is Jay’s side project to organize rallies and other car-enthusiast-type events for EVs.
The website looks swanky enough that I can’t imagine any of the usual Lemons participants would be allowed to even visit the URL without a full and comprehensively complex bath. I think this too may be the first sort of thing of its kind, an all-EV rallying and racing organization.
We’ll keep an eye on that, too.
Anyway, with this Lemons announcement, I think it’s time to officially mark this as the day modern EVs became potential shitboxes. Life is beautiful.