Running Lucky Dogs With a Lemons Car
As you may know by now the team here at ShiftAtlanta has sponsored building a 24 Hours Of Lemons endurance race car. We did this because we wanted to show what would happen when 4 relatively typical car enthusiasts tried to build a race car. Our team has varying degrees of experience, but zero with endurance racing. While it showed through our many painful mistakes and regrets, we also showed it was possible.
In addition to building the car for 24 Hours Of Lemons we wanted to use the platform to try a number of different racing series, including other endurance series. We recently had a chance to run a Lucky Dogs endurance race. This gave us the opportunity to document some of the process and rules differences.
Most of the entries into Lucky Dogs came from cars that also run in 24 Hours Of Lemons or Champ (Chump) Car. So it’s not uncommon for cars to try to make the move. However, there are a few details to pay attention to if you are looking to make the move or are building a car to run multiple series.
Lucky Dogs Racing
Lucky Dogs Racing is an endurance series primarily focused on the Pacific Northwest, though they are building a significant presence in the southeast. Slotted as more driver focused series than 24 Hours Of Lemons, but more approachable than Champ Car the series fills a niche in the amateur endurance racing scene.
We plan a full recap and overview of the series soon, but lets just say we came away very impressed. The series is extremely well run. It takes some of the best elements of Champ Car such as sprint and individual trophies for each day, and combines it with team and car friendly environment.
Carolina Endurance Cup
With the COVID canceling of both of the local Atlanta area Lemons races (Road Atlanta in December and Barber in February) we joined the Carolina Endurance Cup. This is an offshoot of the rest of the Lucky Dogs series which runs primarily in the Pacific Northwest.
The Carolina Endurance Cup is a three race series with it’s own points standing. It’s run at Carolina Motorsports Park in May and again in August, plus Charlotte Motor Speedway in July.
For 2022 the series in the South is now known as the Southern Endurance Cup. It’s is three races, two at Carolina Motorsports Park (February and September) and one at Atlanta Motorsports Park in May.
Lemons vs. Lucky Dogs Rules Differences
While overall safety rules are similar, there are some notable exceptions. The biggest difference between Lemons and Lucky Dog rules are the car entry requirements.
Car Entry Requirements
While Lemons focuses on the cost of the car ($500), Lucky Dog focuses purely on the year. In Lucky Dogs any car 2006 or older is allowed in. Yes, you could take a 2005 Ferrari and strip the interior, put in a roll cage and run it. While they haven’t done it at some of the largest races there are Porsches, V8 Mustangs and Corvettes running in the top class.
In Lemons the $500 price limit helps keep speed and mods in check. In Lucky Dog’s they focus on limiting specific mods, tire choice and classing to help maintain a competitive field.
Tires and Sponsors
Lucky Dog’s is sponsored by Hankook tires and all competitors must run Hankook RS4s bought through a special portal. If you choose not to you’ll be placed in an exhibition class and won’t be eligible to accrue points or win trophies. Like Lemons though all cars must run 200 TW tires, even in the exhibition class.
One other note on car entry is stickers. Lucky Dog’s has a number of sponsors and requires all cars to run stickers of their sponsors. While we had no issue with this, some teams grumbled at not only the sticker requirement – but the sear number of them. There were about 10 sponsor stickers we had to place on the car.
Safety Rules Differences
Safety rules wises there are a few key differences. Most of these items are “optional” in Lemons rules, but are required for Lucky Dogs. Champ car requires most of these as well so it doesn’t hurt to do them.
- Window Net (SFI certified) – optional in Lemons, required in Lucky Dogs
- Seat Brace – required when seat is 6 inches away from the bar in Lemons, 3 inches for Lucky Dogs
- Dash Bar/Roll Cage – Dash bars are recommended but optional in Lemons, but required in Lucky Dogs. In general, Lucky Dogs other cages requirements are the same. If you are looking to try the series you can often get a 1 race exemption. But don’t expect any more than 1.
- Firewall Holes – Lemons makes a general statement about sealing holes, Lucky Dog is explicit with metal coverings including rivets or welded for holes bigger than an inch with fire resistant foam
- Fire Suppression System – Sealed systems only in Lucky Dogs and SFI rated. These are now required in Lemons as well, but I believe they still grandfather existing systems.
We did find Lucky Dogs was actively looking to encourage Lemons racers to try the series. If you are missing a single item you MAY qualify for a single race exemption. We did on the dash bar. However, don’t expect a single race exemption for multiple safety items and we recommend asking ahead of time, rather than assuming.
This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list and we recommend checking the rules for yourself. There are potentially other areas where there are differences. However, we did see a number of people ask about making the switch and wanted to share what we found.
About Team Nein Blinker
Team Nein Blinker is ShiftAtlanta’s Community project for 2020 and 2021. Our goal is to show what the experience is when a team of typical car enthusiasts build an endurance race car. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Our goal with the team and the car is to bring more people into driving events – including autocross, sprint racing and endurance racing. Follow along with our adventures.