Why modern racing sucks compared to LeMons

What appears to be footage from the taxi ride in from Logan is actually racing action from a recent round of The 24 Hours of LeMons.

Seriously folks, the racing featured in this not-so-serious contest for under-$500 racing "machines" beats the pants off of anything I’ve seen in my last two decades of 4am Formula 1 gazing.  The 24 Hours of LeMons works because it is designed to be fun for drivers, teams, and spectators.  Simple.  I imagine the design principles behind the series look something like this:

  1. Make it fun for drivers
  2. Make it wild and outrageous for spectators
  3. Keep the cars simple and brutally cheap so that teams can have a good time at the race, too

What an indictment of the state of modern motorsports that, when it comes to creating an arena where the simple joys of competition can flourish, a hipster-doofus series administered by ace scribe Jay Lamm puts almost any professionally-managed racing series to shame.  Modern race series are deep-yawn, drool-running-down-your chin boring.  Boring boring boring.  I don’t know about you, but the only in-car footage that compares to the stuff above would be something out of a WRC car.  Modern racing series can learn a lot from Lemons.

As a case in point, look what happens to cheaters at The 24 Hours of Lemons:

There are three main points to take away from this video:

  1. That backhoe operator is an artist
  2. The structural integrity of a BMW is not to be underestimated (how about those door hinges?!!!)
  3. Any experience, be it a call to an airline reservation center or an ER admitting line or a trip to the DMV, can be and should be designed to be meaningful.  Look at the creativity that went in to making the act of disqualifying an entrant something worth talking about.  If you wanted a customer to feel good about interacting with your brand, you could do worse than to digest what Jay Lamm has done with Lemons and then reassess every point of interaction in the customer journey through your organization’s presence in the world.

For example, consider the hum-drum treatment of cheaters in modern sports.  When McLaren was caught cheating in Formula 1 earlier this year, they were forced to pay a $100,000,000 fine.  Yes, 100 million dollars.  That’s a steep fine, but the boys at McLaren were allowed to keep racing for the entire season.  It was all about the lawyers, not the fans.  If we learning from LeMons, a much more appropriate penalty would have been a hydraulic-clawed machine of some sort munching dainty MP4-22 carbon monocoques by the harbor at Monaco.  And then no more racing.  That would be a truly priceless penalty, and a crowd-pleaser at that.

The next running of The 24 Hours of LeMons will be next week on the 28th and 29th of December. 

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