Don’t wait to do the things you love: Fulfilling a dream to compete at every 24 Hours of Lemons race

Matt Fink

In 2022 Neal Losey became the first driver in the 24 Hours of Lemons’ 17-year history to race in every single one of Lemons’ 21 races for the season. He did it with style driving 37 different cars including everything from a 1947 Plymouth DeLuxe, to a 1988 Pontiac Fiero powered by a Saab engine. Although Lemons may not always be about “winning”, his efforts did earn him the National Drivers’ Championship… with more than double the points of the 2nd place finisher. What does a National Drivers’ Championship in 24 Hours of Lemons earn you, you ask? In this case, a straitjacket. Not kidding. For Neal, it wasn’t about winning a national championship though, it was about not waiting anymore to do the things you want to do.

courtesy of Neal Losey

Neal Losey wasn’t an experienced racecar driver, nor was he good with the wrenches. But that didn’t stop him from getting involved with the 24 Hours of Lemons (basically endurance racing with $500 cars) in 2011. Gathering a group of friends with no racing experience, they bought a CRX from a police auction for $300 and went out and finished 70th out of 140 in their first race. The team celebrated like they had won and Neal was hooked. 81 races later and he still can’t get enough of racing with the 24 Hours of Lemons.

courtesy of Neal Losey

Loving racing and committing to travelling the country to compete in all 21 races are two different things though. Neal had extra motivation after 2020 as during the pandemic he unfortunately lost his father. Before he passed his father would talk about all the stuff they were going to do after the pandemic. Neal spent a lot of time since then thinking about how we are not promised tomorrow. “After losing my dad, I realized there are things I want to do, and I can’t wait anymore. I’m just going commit and start doing them.” Neal shared. “People talk about what they would do if they won the lottery. I always said I would run the whole Lemons season if I won the lottery. But then I realized I never play the lottery, so I’m just gonna have to figure how to do this on my own.” Losey is a public radio DJ who started also working at a winery for 3 months, 7 days a week, 17 hours a day, to save up the necessary funds to do a full Lemons season. He wondered what the next “pandemic” was going to be that holds people back in life, and decided he wasn’t going to wait around to find out.

courtesy of Neal Losey

Having a clear goal set helped Neal make changes in his life. Prior to Lemons, he didn’t have a credit card or a cell phone. Really. And he had only flown a couple times. During the course of this one season Neal flew 75,000 miles to 23 states, partnered with 29 teams, and drove on track for 126 hours. Unfortunately, since flying and credit cards are new to him, he didn’t know to sign up for airline miles! Since most weekends he would race in more than one car he had to complete 57 Lemon’s registrations in 2022. Doing so allowed him to race at 18 different tracks. How much did it cost him? “I don’t know, and I don’t wanna know.” Neal expressed. “BUT, I would have spent double whatever it was as it was that amazing. Because of Lemons it was the best year of my life.”

He did save money where he could including driving is 6-speed Mazda 6 wagon to some races and sleeping in that. Other races he would literally just sleep in a chaise lounge chair at the track.

Matt Fink

Most the teams he drove for he had never met. Using Lemons matchmaker feature on their website called “OKStupid”, he was able to become the ‘king of arrive and drives’, while making life-long friends with each team he raced with. Everywhere he went he relied on strangers to pick him up for the airport, sometimes pulling their whole car trailer through the passenger pickup area. “I don’t wreck cars. I’m not the fastest, but I also don’t know much mechanical stuff!” Despite the humble attitude, it takes some real talent to compete in wheel-to-wheel racing for 126 hours and never wreck or break a car, and only receive a total of 3 black flags.

courtesy of Neal Losey

It didn’t start that easy for Neal though. “For my very first stint on-track I was so nervous I was hyperventilating and fogged up my visor. This caused me to get lost in the pits literally not be able to find the track. I drove back to the team and tried to quit right there and then, but friends made me get out there and I immediately loved it. This is everything I have wanted.

Neal once drove for 5 different teams in 1 race. courtesy of Neal Losey

Why Race the 24 Hours of Lemons

Losey encourages more to try the series he loves. “It’s the most inexpensive way to race. The officials are funny, and the people are great. Life is too short to take your weekend fun too seriously. Plus I love the seeing the variety of cars. But most of all it’s the people.” The key to racing at Lemons according to the man who has now raced over 80 times is, “have fun and don’t be a jerk.” Neal shared that occasionally people from other series come in and think they will mop the floor with Lemons people, but it just shows they don’t really get the culture at Lemons. “Yes, it is about racing, but it’s also about the people. For the teams come to Lemons with only one goal and that is to win, how much fun did they have? I can tell you we always had fun.” Some of the teams he raced with even did what he calls, sandwich racing; race for an hour, take a break and eat a sandwich, then do it again. “Despite the focus on fun, I’m still competitive. I’m always trying to pass the car in front of me, even if we aren’t on the same lap.”

Matt Fink

Throughout the season he was a part of many different team’s themes and really encourages other to have a theme for your team at least once a year. It’s something that makes Lemons unique and fun. His favorites from the past year included a Ramones theme (Neal rode a drum set on a hoverboard around all weekend) and a 1980s theme (complete with bricks of cocaine, sunglasses, and pegged legs).

courtesy of Neal Losey

Did all that racing last year burn Neal out? Not a chance, he is already scheduled to race at 12 Lemons events and is trying to add more this season. He says his favorite part is driving an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar track. While others often hate the traffic that can be found on a Lemons track, Neal claims he loves the challenge it creates. “My favorite was when we had 180 cars at Sonoma Raceway, it was so intense!”

The 24 Hours of Lemons does have an overall winner trophy (something Neal has yet to win), but that’s not the one most people want. It’s their Index of Effluencey (a lampoon of Le Mans’ Index of Thermal Efficiency)—which is calculated by rating how terrible the entry is versus how high it finished—is the highest honor. Losey has driven some unique cars you could say as he has earned the coveted IOE 16 times. That’s includes two last season with a 1977 Chrysler Imperial, and a 1973 El Camino 454 SS.

Neal describes himself as an “Eeyore cloud of negative” type of guy. But after everything just worked out so well last season it has adjusted his outlook on life. courtesy of Neal Losey

To learn more about getting involved with the 24 Hours of Lemons, visit Due to its high quotient of fun and low barriers to entry, the series has developed a rabid following. Their motto is ‘Racing is for all idiots, not just idiots who can cut checks for a half-million dollars.’

Neal said it was so fun to drive ‘Buttercup’, the Lincoln Continental with a horse on top. It was hilarious to see the shadow of the horse as you go around the track. Matt Fink

Neal still lives by the notion that we only have so much time here on earth, so he’s going to keep accomplishing more goals. “I’m so glad I pursued my dream. I’m 55-years-old and we aren’t promised tomorrow.” Do you have an automotive dream that you are not going to wait anymore to try? Tell us about it in the comments.

Matt Fink

Here’s a list of the cars Neal Losey raced during the 2022 season: 1947 Plymouth DeLuxe, 1947 Chevy Stylemaster, 1963 Volvo PV544 (x6), 1964 Dodge Dart (x2), 1967 Ford Fairlane (x2), 1972 Chevy Vega, 1972 GAZ Volga body over a BMW (x2), 1973 Chevy El Camino 454 SS (x2), 1975 Lincoln Continental, 1977 Chrysler Imperial (x2), 1977 Dodge Monaco (x2), 1980 Triumph TR8, 1980 Honda Civic wagon, 1981 Mazda 626, 1981 Rover SD1 with Lexus engine swap, 1982 Toyota Corolla, wagon, 1982 Ford EXP, 1984 Porsche 944, 1985 Pontiac Tojan, 1985 BMW 325, 1985 Pontiac Fiero (x2), 1986 Merkur XR4TI, 1986 Toyota Cressida (x2), 1986 Porsche 944, 1987 Honda Prelude (x4), 1987 Mazda Pickup, 1987 VW Quantum, 1988 Fiero with Saab engine swap, 1993 Mercedes S600 Lorinser (x2), 1995 BMW 318i convertible (x2), 1995 Ford Probe, 1995 Pontiac Transport dustbuster van, 1996 Ford Mustang, 1996 Dodge Dakota (x2), 2003 Ford Thunderbird, 2005 Chysler 300, 2006 Pontiac Solstice.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Honda’s potential S2000 successor, drive this life-sized R/C, 132K Jeep Cherokees recalled


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *