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Sip wine and watch junk cars race at the wacky 24 Hours of LeMons

This smoking car suffered from a deflated wiener during the race.
This smoking car suffered from a deflated wiener during the race.
Photo courtesy of 24 Hours of LeMons

Racing fans from around northern California are headed to Sonoma Raceway March 22-23 for the wackiest automobile race you will ever see, the 24 Hours of LeMons. All cars in the race must be bought and prepared for no more than $500, which means that every one of them is, in effect, a piece of junk.

But oh what pieces of junk! This is a 24-hour endurance race in which Pintos race side by side against Maseratis in an all-out effort to catch a Le Car leading the pack. Drivers and their crews (and the fans in the seats, for that matter) dress up in costumes like it’s Halloween, and many of the cars are tricked up to look like weird psychedelic visions that popped from the head of Salvador Dali.

Almost every type of beat-to-hell vehicle you can imagine—chopped-up stretch limos, BMWs that have seen far better days, an Oscar Mayer-like wienermobile, a GM special with a stuffed horse and rider on the roof, spaceship cars, “Smokey and the Bandit” customs that could be driven by Buford T. Justice—all will be in the hunt for glory come Saturday.

To catch the spirit of the “Sears Pointless,” as the race is called—a nod to the history of Sonoma Raceway, which old-timers still refer to as Sears Point, the site of an historic Sonoma County farm—watch the slideshow that accompanies this article. That will give you the full flavor of the event.

Spectator tickets are $30 each and can be purchased at the gate. Children under 16 will be admitted free. Tickets include access to the paddocks so you can see all these wild and woolly vehicles and their equally wild and wooly race teams up close.

Racing is from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Gates open at 7 a.m. No overnight camping is allowed, nor are electrical or water hookups for RVs. Gas barbecues are permitted but not charcoal. Propane gas grills are fine.

Most Sonoma Raceway visitors come only for the day, although some do spend the night and turn it into a weekend. Consult Sonoma County Tourism or the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau for places to stay and where to eat. No other racetrack in the world has so many wineries nearby, and you can sip world-class Sonoma and Napa wines while watching the automotive junk speed by.

The Sears Pointless is the fourth event in this year’s national 24 Hours of LeMons series. Forty races will be held in 2014 with the finale in December back at Sonoma. For more on the inspired lunacy that is the 24 Hours of LeMons, see here.