The Great Lakes Mistake: A 24 Hours of Lemons Rally July 2-7th, 2018

Those of you who are familiar with the 24 Hours of Lemons know that it’s really and truly the ‘poor persons’ answer to ChumpCar.  But did you know that they do Rallies, too?  And they’re going to be in our neck of the woods soon.  So, here’s what you need to know:

Lemons Rally: What You Need To Know About the ‘Great Lakes Mistake’ Rally

While the Lemons Rally has made its name sending participants on grueling days through tough weather, the upcoming Great Lakes Mistake Rally from July 2 to 7 instead makes a splash with two other big challenges. The first is distance: The Great Lakes Mistake will run 400-plus miles per day. The second and more daunting challenge: Competitors will spend about half the rally in Canada.

This is the first time we’ve done this rally, but the circumnavigation of the Great Lakes should be a good time and it’s still not too late to add your name to the growing entry list by registering here. 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 a couple thousand miles over somewhere between four and six days. Participants score points (1) at the rally’s start based on the general hooptieness of your vehicle, (2) from visiting checkpoints along the route, (3) from assorted (mis)adventures along the way, and (4) through daily challenges, a new feature on the 2018 Lemons Rallies.

The winner (term used loosely) is the person who amasses the most points. Like Lemons races, however, 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.


So this Great Lakes Rally…this route wasn’t on the original schedule when I checked at the beginning of the year. What gives?

We added this rally because we haven’t yet been to Canada (officially, although a few Rally teams have accidentally ended up there). So we thought we’d give Lemons a whirl north of the border.

Really? You’re sending people to Canada?!

Yeah. If you’re coming to Canada, that means you need to bring your passport and all the other things you might need to do to prove you’re not the person of the same name with outstanding warrants. In other words, you need to be ready to cross the border, so read up on what that entails for both getting into Canada and getting back into the United States.


I’ve seen the type of people who run Lemons Rallies. Even setting aside the serious junk people will be driving: Do you really think Canada will let all of them into the country?

Maybe not “all of them.” Some people will be right dickered. We have planned an alternate “Too Loser for Canada” route, although it’s worth fewer points and way less cool. Of course, we won’t tell you what it is until after you’ve registered at the beginning of the rally.

Alternate route, eh? I guess that assumes there is a main route. What is the primary route?

The rally begins at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, the day after the 24 Hours Lemons race on the morning of July 2. From there, the route goes through Chicago on the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Then it goes all the way across Ontario to Niagara Falls and loops back to Michigan. The rally wraps up with an awards ceremony at Van Buren State Park near South Haven on July 7. That covers more than 2,500 miles over six days and will tour, as you might guess, all five Great Lakes.

Here’s the general itinerary:

July 2: South Haven, MI to Wausau, WI
July 3: Wausau, WI to Thunder Bay, ONT
July 4: Thunder Bay, ONT to Sault Ste. Marie, ONT
July 5: Sault Ste. Marie, ONT to Peterborough, ONT
July 6: Peterborough, ONT to Independence, OH
July 7: Independence, OH to South Haven, MI


Is there a route that I’ll have to follow?

Nope. You can get from A to B any way you’d like, but some routes to 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 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 (like above)—on the Lemons Rally Instagram and Facebook pages for those following the rally from the climate-controlled comfort of home. So follow Lemons Rally and the hashtag #LemonsRallyon Instagram to follow ALL the action.

Come on. You can’t give us hints about any of the checkpoints?

Just as we said before the Retreat From Moscow Rally earlier this year: Bring a swimsuit.

So we have to swim in the Great Lakes?

Either that or we’re going to make you do something dumb in a hotel pool. You never know, now do you?


The suspense is killing me!

Well, if the suspense doesn’t do you in, the dingy pool water might. So you have that going for you.

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 (many) 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. We used to include that last item as a joke, but it’s not an idle threat here. Don’t break international law, please.


Do I need to enter some decrepit hooptie?

You can bring almost anything you want—although 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 Nivainstead of some Porsche Jerkmobile with air-conditioned headliners. 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, which is like a half-blind Concours event at the ass-crack of dawn (Check out the scoring here). However, if you just want to see the sights 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 with me?

Besides the car, you’ll need the paperwork to prove it’s insured and not stolen. And of course all the necessary border-crossing documentation. 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 couple rallies.

We also recommend you bring a change of clothes or two 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 for when your heap inevitably boils over.

Try to bring a friend if you have any, but you should make plenty of new, barely sociable ones during the Rally. A CB radio may also be useful for communicating with other rally participants you run with 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 one from Episode 63 of Roadkill. We’ll take that as an endorsement of the rally.


What kind of coverage will this get?

You’ll be able to find coverage here on 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 Great Lakes Mistake Rally and other rallies this year.


More rallies?!

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 ( or Eric Rood ( 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.

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