Retreat From Moscow: The Video Recap and More!

By: Eric Rood Photo Credits: Eric Rood, Alan Galbraith
March 25, 2020

While Lemons has properly wrapped up dozens of races on the Lemons YouTube Channel, we’ve only done one Lemons Rally recap. Fret not, for we shall be trying to capture more of those. Indeed, our weekly YouTube upload recaps the goings-on of the Retreat From Moscow Lemons Rally in January.

Nick and Jay walk you through what exactly…err, vaguely, the Lemons Rally is. They also count down some of our favorite stories and the winners of the Rally. We’ll let them talk that over here. This was a gangbusters Rally with some terrific vehicles, so let’s take a moment to talk about even more of the fantastic Lemons Rally vehicles that we ruefully had to omit from winning trophies.

Wagons and Vans and Trucks, Oh My

While Lemons Rally sees plenty of sedans and sporty-type coupes, Rally participants sure like their wagons, vans, and trucks. One of the “best” of these was Critter, a Super Duty Ford Pickup with a smokey diesel engine and a top speed of almost 60 miles per hour. Critter led the rally for a while and managed a solid Top 5 finish in points.

David Mills has taken part in Lemons events going all the way back to Lemons races in 2009. Mills—better known as Caddywrecker in the Lemons world—has now run several rallies, including the Route 66 Rally with his dad in 2018. This time around, he slapped a camper onto a Chevy C10 he’d brought back from the Route 66 Rally. The camper almost made it all the way until the transmission puked just a couple hours from the finish line.

Wingus and Dingus Motorsports have previously campaigned a Subaru Wagon a few times. This time around, they rolled out with a Jeep Cherokee whose drivetrain was under moderate-to-extreme duress for the rally duration. They made it the full pull and posted some fantastic photography along the way. Word is, they have a particularly cromulant rally vehicle waiting at home for their next Lemons roadtrip.

And if a troubled Jeep Cherokee isn’t scary enough, how about a steeply discounted Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen? Accompanied by perfect Squatting Slav checkpoints photos, the G-Wagen racked up astounding numbers of Check Engine Lights. After accumulating 7 or 8, the warning screen simply began begging the team members to seek the nearest Mercedes dealership. For much of the rally, that was a solid 4-6 hours away.

Mopar, No-Car…More or Less the Same Thing

No rally can really be considered complete without some Mopar goodness. This Plymouth Fury was one of the most legitimately cool things on the Rally. It looks fantastic and cruises like a boss. And brown over brown? Not only was that the Mopar theme for this rally, it’s also basically just a general Mopar theme.

To that end, the highly entertaining Lawn Dart carried the Brown Car torch. These guys ran the Retreat From Moscow the previous year in a Scion xB. This year, they went full Brown with a Slant Six Dart and a trunk covered in magnetic darts. It looked magnificent perched on the edge of West Virginia’s Cheat Bridge.

And the successor to the Dart and Plymouth Duster was, of course, the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare. This Slant Six Volare struggled with brakes…and power…and suspension loading. But it made it all the way to Alabama nonetheless. This makes, we think, the fourth Volare or Aspen on the Lemons Rally with none ever racing in the 24 Hours of Lemons. Won’t someone fix this?

Wagons West…Err, South…Actually We’re Lost As Hell

As Jay and Nick point out, General Motors’ B-Body platform has become the “easy button” on the rally, much like the BMW 3-Series is to Lemons racing. However, a good E30 or E36 can be an entertaining Lemons car with a good theme. Likewise, what’s not to love about a WKRP in Cincinnati-themed early Boxy Caprice Wagon whose occupants wore turkeys on their heads all week? Les Nessman approves of this vehicle. We found this team very, very tough one to pass up for a Moscow Rally trophy. It ain’t easy picking winners.

Similarly, we found it hard to pass up a trophy for four shy internet friends who met up to undertake the rally in a full-size Dodge conversion van. The previous owner had made the old Dodge B-Series a regular at custom van shows and, of course, Lemons is a big fan of vannin’ (and Vannin’). They were on the very short list of potential trophy winners and just missed out, but we see great things coming from them at future rallies.

More Fun With New Olds Friends

Of course, Lemons Rally is always more fun with more friends. We saw a very high rate of people per vehicle on this rally, which we hope is a trend going forward. In addition, we saw several veteran Lemons teams draft in friends of theirs in new cars. Three Legs Four Wheels (For Now) have now run four rallies with three different AMC Eagles. They brought back their original Eagle Wagon for this rally and also brought along friends Up Scale Racers in a mile-long Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale.

Also, the Random Acts of Stupidity winners, Stattosphere Motorsports (spelled correctly in the video notes thankyouverymuch), drafted in some new Lemons Rally participants with a proper Oldsmobile of their own. Boss Hog Rock wrapped their Oldsmobile 98’s with Dukes of Hazzard characters. Inside, the quartet enjoyed plush 1980s General Motors accommodations. Real 1980s Moscow natives? You can bet they’d be jealous of such luxury.

What’s Next

At the moment, the Lemons Rally has no plans to alter the 2020 schedule. As such, we still intend to run the Lemons Route 66 Rally on June 16-21. We’ll still depart Chicago(ish) on June 16 and arrive at the Santa Monica Pier on the 21st. If anything changes about that, we’ll keep you updated on Lemons Rally Facebook and Instagram. Until then, spend some time in the garage getting your next Rally whip ready and be sure to wash your hands well and frequently. Check out the gallery below for more images from the 2020 Retreat From Moscow Rally.

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