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Everyone at NMS is doing their final shopping for Lemons, the 24 Hours of Lemons race that is! While Brian has completed two of these races and likely owns all the safety gear he needs, I've been melting down my credit card to get the stuff I need to wear to keep safe. The big attraction for Lemons (or Chump Car) racing is that you can get on track with a cheap-o car and race with dozens of other lunatics without having to go thru a long and expensive licensing program. On the other hand, don't fool yourself, it costs money to burn up tires, brakes, install roll cages, buy a radio, transponder, enter the race, and then buy/rent/borrow all the safety gear.
So, for what it's worth, here's my running total of what I've had to buy to enter my first Lemons race. I'm sure there are plenty of other sources of information on line, and you can also buy your safety gear from the Lemons folks too. You might even want to check out one of the most popular posts on our blog where Brian answered the question: SO HOW MUCH DOES THIS LEMONS THING COST? Let's start with what I'll be wearing in the latest fashion from head to toe:
Helmet: This is one item I have had for a few years (a Zamp full face helmet), and luckily mine is still new enough that it meets the safety requirements. Like a lot of safety gear, it will last you a few years, but will eventually need to be replaced since we want effective safety items, and not your dad's helmet from 1976.
My cost for Lemons: Zero.
To buy a new one today: Let's say $200 and up.
Balaclava: Another goodie I got for Christmas a while ago, so no cost this time. This is a fire resistant head covering that hopefully I won't need, and it's optional, but sounds like a good idea if you hate being on fire as much as I do.
My cost: Zero
Buy one today: $25 and up
Racing Suit: OK, here's something I didn't have, so after looking around the various racing gear places on line, talking to other drivers, you have a basic choice of a one piece suit that also requires you to buy fire resistant underwear, or buy a multi-layer suit that doesn't require fire rated underwear. I went with an inexpensive Zamp suit that has three layer, so I feel pretty safe with that, and hey. I like their helmet so why not try their suit! Probably the cheapest multi layer suit I found on line, so good for safety buy man it's going to be hot in South Carolina next month. Some folks advised me to go with a thinner two layer suit due to the heat, so hopefully I won't regret this! See below for another item that will help me beat the heat.
My cost: $200, but you can spend a LOT more
Cool Shirt: This is a brand name that includes clothing and the car mounted cooler systems that pump chilled water into your Cool Shirt under your race suit. Race cars are hot, don't have AC, and as I've mentioned it gets hot down south, so once I'm driving I'll plug my shirt into the car's cooler, and have cold water circulating in my shirt lined with surgical tubing. These bad boys aren't cheap, but everyone that races seems to use one to help beat the heat. Totally worth it I'm sure, but you could skip it if you love to sweat.
My cost: $126 cheapest price I found on line at PitStopUSA
Nomex Socks: Yes, even though I have a fire suit, I have to have socks to go with it, and shoes too. Racing can be dangerous, so I'm glad that even the Lemons racers require us to go all out with the safety gear.
My cost: Two pair of socks was about $25 I think, so clean socks for Saturday and another pair for Sunday.
Driver Shoes: Another purchase I made a few years ago, I've worn these for autocross and some track days, so I should be all comfy with these on my feet. They are also fire resistant, and have smooth soles and heels to help use those pedals in the car. I went with some cheap Racequip brand shoes, their stuff is inexpensive and gets the job done!
My cost: Nothing at this time!
Cost now: $70
Registration. OK, for the Lemons events, it costs 600 per car and 195 for each driver. If you had 600 drivers that would only be a dollar each for the car, but most teams go with 4-6 drivers, so it costs a bit more! We've got 5 on our team, so
My cost: $315
Car stuff. Two of our team members bought the car, so the rest of us have contributed various amounts for tires and brakes, and we definitely want good tires and new race brakes (from G-Loc).
My cost: $157 for rear brakes.
Other goodies for the race include camping fee split by the team, transponder for the car split five ways, and we'll probably get around to splitting some more costs for food, drinks, gas, etc.
Bottom line: I'm not going to add all that up, but like Brian has stated, this cheap racing is not exactly cheap! However, compared to a 50-500 million dollar F1 team, a 15 million dollar Indycar, or about 20 million for a cheap NASCAR season ACCORDING TO JALOPNIK, this should be a good bargain for the "fun driving" experience that will be priceless.