Retreat From Moscow 2019, Lemons Rally: What You Need to Know

By: Eric Rood Photo Credits: Eric Rood, Wes Allison
January 14, 2019

24 Hours of Lemons

We’re just two weeks out from the 2019 Retreat From Moscow Lemons Rally. Before we shove off from Northeastern Pennsylvania, we figured we should cover some important ground. So if you’re coming on the Rally, considering coming on it, or just want to know what kind of utter stupidity others will undertake, read on.

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What is this rally thing anyway?

The Lemons Rally covers more than 1,500 miles across four days with points awarded (1) at the rally’s start based on the general hooptieness of your vehicle, (2) from checkpoints along the route, (3) from assorted (mis)adventures along the way, and (4) through the occasional organized challenges.

The winner is the person who amasses the most points but like Lemons races, the winners are only semi-important. Trophies are handed out for a variety of other accomplishments with the Organizer’s Choice taking top honors on the rally. Many participants will tell you that the Random Acts of Stupidity (naturally awarded for undertaking the most torturous, most circuitous, and consequently most entertaining routes) is the real top prize.

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Is this the same route from either of the previous Retreat From Moscow rallies?

Not entirely. The rally does indeed begin January 30 in Moscow, Pennsylvania, and end at the season-opening 24 Hours of Lemons race at Barber Motorsports Park. Here’s the general itinerary:

January 29: Moscow (PA) to Pittsburgh (PA)
January 30: Pittsburgh (PA) to Lexington (KY)
January 31: Lexington (KY) to  Nashville (TN)
February 1: Nashville to Paris (TN) to Waterloo (AL) with awards at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Alabama) during tech day for 24 Hours of Lemons’ season opener

You can get from Point A to Point B any way you’d like, but some routes to reach the checkpoints (which won’t be published until the rally’s start) might take you a bit off the beaten path. How far off the beaten path you go, of course, depends on how many points you want to chase on a given day. And some of them will require major, major detours.

What are the checkpoints?

It’s a bit of a secret because we want people to have to make their route decisions for the week after registration while they’re also trying to manage the first day’s route. You know, that keeps things adventurous. Every morning of the rally, however, we’ll post the day’s checkpoints—usually oddball or scenic landmarks (above)—on the Lemons Rally Instagram and Facebook pages for those following the rally from the warmth and comfort of home.

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The Rally information says there’s Concours judging at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. What’s that all about?

We wanted to do something special with one of the coolest auto museums in the world and they were awesome enough to agree. So the rally cars will show up at the museum and undergo some judging from Lane personnel and whoever else we can drum up. Rally participants should also have some time to peruse the museum.

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Are you going back to Deals Gap this year?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t really time to do both the Lane Museum and Deals Gap Resort on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, so we opted to do something different this year. The route should include plenty of driving roads that rival that kind of quality and we’ve already earmarked Deals Gap again for the 2020 Retreat From Moscow Rally.

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What happens if the weather is crappy?

Since the route runs a little farther north this year than last, we do have very simplified instructions in case we run into a blizzard. However, a little snow won’t change the route. Should the weather turn extremely foul, Lemons Rally organizers will make adjustments as needed. Follow the official accounts on Facebook and on Instagram for in-rally updates, including weather adjustments.

24 Hours of Lemons

What happens if I get stuck in a snowbank anyway?

Eight out of 10 doctors recommend getting yourself out of the snowbank.

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Is the Lemons Rally a race?

Hell no! This is not a stage rally or competition of speed. We’re obligated to tell you to observe all traffic laws and since all of the cars in the rally will have gigantic LEMONS RALLY stickers, rally organizers may very well dock you points for run-ins with the law. Additionally, you’re on the hook for your own tickets, arrests, legal costs, bartering cigarettes, and/or extradition fees.

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Do I need to enter some decrepit hooptie?

You can bring almost anything you want—no motorcycles, sorry—as long as it’s street registered and insured. We know you’ll have fun in whatever you drive (even a rental car) though it’ll be a more authentic experience if you bring a 1940 LaSalle Hearse or a schoolbus full of your dumb friends instead of some Porsche Jerkmobile with heated backup cameras. Basically: The more you can thumb your nose at those presumptuous exotics rallies where some idiot always bends a half-million dollars around a light pole, the better you’ll fit in.

If you care about winning, bringing an exceedingly terrible vehicle will score major points at the registration judging (Check out the scoring here). However, if you just want to see the country and drive around with your friends without caring about winning, you can drive whatever you want.

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What kinds of things should I bring?

Besides the car, you’ll need the paperwork to prove it’s insured and not stolen. To get points for reaching checkpoints, you’ll also need a smartphone and an Instagram account to take pictures of your car and the checkpoints. Following at home? Search #LemonsRally on Instagram for all of the content from this and previous rallies.

We also recommend you bring lots of warm clothes, blankets, and tools to fix your jalopy. It’s a good idea to bring food and a supply of water, as well. That’s about one gallon of water per person per day plus a couple of spare gallons because your heap will naturally overheat in subzero temperatures.

Try to bring a friend if you have any, but you should make plenty of new, barely sociable ones on the rally. A CB radio may also be useful for communicating with other rally participants you find on the road; bring/install one of those if you can. The rally also traverses areas with spotty cellular and GPS reception so haul along an atlas or good paper maps if you have any room left.

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Where can I follow this Lemons Rally from home?

You’ll be able to find coverage on the Lemons Rally Instagram and here on the 24 Hours of Lemons Blog as time and internet connectivity allow. Keep an eye on the proceedings in real time via Instagram with the hashtag #LemonsRally and on the Lemons Rally’s own Instagram and Facebook accounts. We’re just gonna keep posting those links.

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Sounds great. Where do I sign up?

Go to the Lemons Rally page and follow the link to sign up for the Retreat From Moscow Rally or for other rallies this year.

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More rallies?

That’s right. We’ve gone crazy and have four more rallies later this year. Click for more info on each.

Florida Man Poker Run: April 29 to May 3
Kershaw, SC to Key West, FL

The Four-Bangors Bangers Rally: July 1-6
Bangor, MI to Bangor, NY to Bangor, ME to Bangor, PA, to Bangor, MI

Hells On Wheels Monterey Rally: August 13-17
Five-Day Round-Trip from Monterey, CA

World Tour of Texas: November 11-14
Four-Day Round-Trip from Angleton, TX

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What if I think of even more crazy questions that are impossibly specific for a FAQ?

You can email Rally Boss Steve McDaniel ( Steve@24hoursoflemons.com) or Eric Rood (eric@24hoursoflemons.com) to alleviate your concerns about what kinds of tires will dominate the rally (probably four mismatched ones from at least 1991) or whatever else you want to know.

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