The 24 Hours of Lemons came to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, with the running of the Halloween Hooptiefest.
The Hooptiefest is a two-day endurance race that began Saturday morning with 103 racers from as far away as California on the track simultaneously.
All entries had to be four-wheeled vehicles when manufactured, pass a safety inspection and have a market value under $500.
Other than that, mostly anything else goes.
That attitude was on display with crystal chandeliers, barbecue grills, giant skulls and forward — not rear-mounted — spoilers mounted on the vehicles.
Some cars, and several trucks, were ostentatious, and all exemplified the motto, in spirit, if not in fact, of the creed of 24 Hours of Lemons, which on its website, proudly says that “Racing shouldn’t just be for rich idiots. Racing should be for all idiots.”
Shannon Stephens, communications manager at the Speedway, said the 24 Hours of Lemons’ Halloween Hooptiefest “is easily the wackiest racing event that we host each year, and fans enjoy the silly antics of the teams, especially when they’re performing crazy tasks to get out of the penalty box and back on the road course.”
Christian Ward of Las Vegas, Nev., was one of three judges who determined who violated the rules and should be pulled aside.
The rules are the rules and they’re there because “safety is paramount,” said Ward, who conceded that silliness, however, is not far behind.
Known in Lemons’ circles as “Mental Ward” and “Judge Mental,” Ward said first-time violators get a regular talking to; second-timers get a sterner, longer talking to and the three-peaters get something special.
“We’ll Saran Wrap you to the top of your car,” said Ward, and while one of the offender’s teammates drives the car, “make you apologize to everyone in the paddock with a bullhorn.”
Other penalties have included fetching food for judges before resuming racing, he said.
In a continuation of the weirdness, the team that has the best cumulative time on Sunday afternoon got “nothing” other than being on the podium, said Ward, while the second-place team will be lauded and lionized.
Rust in the Wind was this year’s winner.
Asked about its anarchic philosophy and whether there were elements in the Lemons racing series that were juvenile, Ward said, “there’s nothing that isn’t.”
Paul DeYeso of Londonderry, who has previously raced dragsters and sports cars, said he is a passionate Lemons enthusiast.
DeYeso, one of three drivers of Team Batman’s 1992 BMW 325 in the Halloween Hooptiefest, is a vice president of engineering at Optics1 in Bedford, which makes night vision equipment for the U.S. military.
He said he’s giving up his other racing pursuits to concentrate on competing in the Lemons series.
“The penalties are the best,” he said, adding he “absolutely” intends to return to the Speedway in 2022 and to keep racing in the Lemons series “until they tell me I can’t.”
Jeff Wakemen, a college administrator from Turnersville, NJ, whose “Three Pedal Mafia” racing team leads the 2021 Lemons series and which was the series champion in 2016, said Lemons endurance racing “is more fun and friendlier” than other motorsports and also more “strategic and more skill-based” because of the teamwork.
Steve Klayman of Atlanta, Ga., said Lemons racers are a unique bunch of people.
“This is my second family,” he said.