Retreat From Moscow 2019: A Pre-Rally Preview

We’re on the cusp of Lemons Rally’s third annual Retreat From Moscow Rally. As you might surmise from the name, the Moscow Rally pays lip service to Napoleon’s infamous winter retreat from the Russian capital. And as you might also conclude, that means that anyone who arrives in Moscow, Pennsylvania, for the start of Lemons’ annual winter rally has already lost. While we’ll have plenty of coverage on the Lemons Rally Instagram and Facebook pages this week, let’s take a look at a few entries we’re expecting to show up tomorrow, January 29, at AJ Auto Center in Moscow for the Rally start.

Lemons Rally

We’ve known the Dahlin Boys from 24 Hours of Lemons racing for most of a decade with a handful of different cars. They also have yet to miss a Retreat From Moscow, first running a “Cledus Snow” Cadillac Eldorado and then bringing this El Camino-ized Dodge Van that may or may not have had a thrift-store couch for a back seat. We understand the van will return this year and be better than ever.

We’re also expecting the One’s Fast, One’s Furious Ford Crown Victoria that we saw just three months ago on the Route Sucky-Sucky Rally down Route 66. These guys turned their Crown Vic into an even split of Roscoe P. Coltrane’s patrol car and the General Lee—calling it the General Roscoe—from the Dukes of Hazzard.

Better still, they got up early during the rally to convert one of the Cadillac Ranch monuments into a General Roscoe replica.


The Von Welker Racing ’63 Ford Galaxie 500 is the oldest car registered for the rally and the team are calling it a “Johnny Allen Special.” They went on to point out that Johnny Allen was a Lemons-caliber NASCAR driver of the era who once went an entire season without finishing a race. Nailed it.


The second-oldest car is no less awesome. This ’64 Dodge 880 has a roof rack, a killer wraparound rear window, and probably at least two kinds of hepatitis.


You know, we’ve yet to see anyone execute a good Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Chrysler LeBaron in the 24 Hours of Lemons, but these dudes seem to have it down. The trunk-mounted trunk is a nice touch, of course.


Last year, a group of Hot Rod Drag Week competitors take home the vaunted Random Acts of Stupidity trophy for assorted hilarity aboard their GM B-Body Wagon. This year, Drag Week regular Robert Williams is bringing a rusty Chevy Nova up from Florida for the rally while he leaves behind the Drag Week-veteran Pork Chop Express Chevy Camaro.


Last summer, Ryan Krugler brought his two kids on the rally in a lifted Ford Crown Victoria and this time out, he and his wife will be rallying a baby-blue 1980 Ford Fiesta. A Malaise Era economy car? What could go wrong?


We’ve done enough rallies now to start seeing trends and we’ve come across one we really like. Much like the BMW 3-Series is the Lemons-racing “default,” we’re starting to the General Motors’ B-Body platform become the Rally default. This Lemons Rally features at least six Chevy Caprices and Buick Roadmasters, most of them the bubbly wagons like Team Moose Knuckle’s.


And really, no Lemons Rally could be complete without some proper Ford Malaise Era goodness. This one comes from the “Yes Kids, It Really Is a Cougar” team. The 1980 Mercury Cougar XR7 features one of the saddest engines ever put in an American automobile: the downsized Ford 255 cubic-inch V8 that probably makes about 90 horsepower after 39 years. What could go wrong?

The Retreat From Moscow Rally starts tomorrow, January 29, at AJ Auto Center (1200 Drinker Turnpike) in Moscow, Pennsylvania. From there, we’re off to Pittsburgh, Lexingon, Nashville, Paris (TN), and Waterloo (AL) before ending up at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, for the 24 Hours of Lemons’ season opener on February 1. We’ll post the route each day on the Lemons Rally Instagram page and you can find more posts from teams by searching #LemonsRally on Instagram.