GreatRaceWINSLOW, AZ – It’s one thing to admire a beautiful car at a show, quite another to watch one drive through a charming old town like Winslow, Arizona and know this particular classic isn’t going three miles to a local root beer stand, but from one end of the country to the other. We got lucky on our last trip to the Motor Palace. We got to witness this spectacle first hand when the Great Race came through town.

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1967 Ford Mustang – Driver: Marc Buchanan, Navigator: Mike Buchanan from Royal Oak, MI
The Great (American) Race began in 1983, and although the event has changed hands a few times over the years (and names), it’s still going strong. 130 entrants joined the rally this year, eager to take their 45+ year-old-cars on a 4000 mile, east-to-west adventure through America’s back roads and small towns.

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1932 Ford Speedster – Driver: Trevor Stahl, Grosse Pointe, MI Navigator: Josh Hull, Roanoke, VA

[quote]This is a precision pace race, not a high-speed race. Points are awarded on the accuracy of a driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a predetermined course. Points are also awarded on a handicap system that awards bonus points to older vehicles.”[/quote]

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1917 Peerless – Driver: Jonathan Klinger Navigator:Davin Reckow from Traverse City, MI
The first cars to roll into town weren’t the official entrants, but rather part of the “Tour,”  classic cars taking the same route, but not in the running for the prize money and without the official rally rules. All the adventure, with half the funds.

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Michael and Doug, tour participants in this Volvo 122S “Amazon,” visited with us for  a while at the Motor Palace while waiting for the rest of the cars. Although they originally planned to take part in full, the tour made more sense for them, and they seemed to be having a blast.

As for the official entrants, driving in the Great Race is not a poor man’s sport.

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1927 Bugatti Tribute – Driver: Pete Vicari , Navigator: Barbara Vicari Crown Point, LA
Each team can pay upwards of 10,000 bucks to participate, along with road expenses and, of course, maintenance. But there is a potential payoff. This year, they gave away $258,500 in prize money. The biggest winner? This 1916 Hudson Hillclimber driven by Howard and Doug Sharp of Fairport, New York.

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THE WINNERS!! 1916 Hudson Hillclimber – Driver: Howard Sharp, Navigator: Doug Sharp of Fairport, New York.
Most who sign up to drive their classics cross-country, I imagine, aren’t thinking so much about the prize money, but rather the adventure. And oh, what an adventure it is!

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2015’s Great Race began in Kirkwood, Missouri, and finished in Santa Monica, California, with, of course, this lunch stop in Winslow, Arizona.

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1932 Auburn Speedster – Driver: Jerome Reinan,Otter Tail County, MN Navigator: Chris Brungardt Blanchard, ND
For hours, I sat out on the street, watching the cars as they headed back onto the highway for their trip to Flagstaff, and shot over 300 pictures. (Don’t worry… I won’t post them all.) By the way, a Toyota like the one below (same model as in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice) recently sold at auction for over a million bucks.

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1970 Toyota 2000 GT – Driver: Norihisa Morita, Mie, Japan Navigator: Akitaka Yamaguchi Tokyo, Japan

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1962 VW Beetle Driver – Jack Hausmann Navigator: Zoe Hausmann, Johns Creek, GA

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1960 Fiat Multipla – Driver: Jim Collins Navigator, Craig Stephens, San Diego, CA

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1941 Mercury Coupe – Driver: Gary Trump, Kahoka, MO, Navigator: Tiffiny Trump, Bentonville, AR

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1970 Volvo 1800e – Driver: Don Elliott, Navigator: Julia Elliott, Marietta, GA

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1969 Saab 96 – Driver: Brian Blood, Navigator: Steve Keller, McLean, VA

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1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II – Driver: Daryl Hill, Navigator: Bill Wallace, Topeka, KS

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1941 Packard 120 Covertible – Driver: Brett Stahl, Navigator: Dan Stahl, Grosse Poine, MI

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1941 Ford Pickup – Driver: Daroll Frewing, Boulder City, NV, Navigator: Bryan Wheeler,Huntington Beach, CA

On our way back to Southern California, we briefly caught sight of the Great Racers again on Route 66 outside of Kingman, heading toward their Havasu stop, driving through temperatures that peaked at 117 degrees in Needles.

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1932 Ford Speedster – Driver: Trevor Stahl, Grosse Pointe, MI Navigator: Josh Hull, Roanoke, VA
How they kept those old cars running in that kind of heat amazes me. Don’t know if my Bondorella would be at all happy in those conditions, especially since she’s running only her electric fan right now.

The following day, the rally cruised through Joshua Tree, adjacent to our other home-away-from-home, and on to San Bernardino for the night, before finishing in Santa Monica.

Would I want to participate in a run like this with my ’48 Ford if I had the funds? Absolutely. Would it be all fun and thrills and filled with mystically romantic moments? Doubtful. I’m sure there would be tons of trials and tribulations along the way, but that’s all part of the adventure, right? I know one thing for sure, though. I’m thankful I witnessed this epic event in person, and, of course, on the best leg of the journey.

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1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser – Driver: David Dort, Copley, OH Navigator: Paul Dort, Canal Fulton, OH
Until next time…

Later Gators!

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