Jeff Stumb grew up in Birmingham, AL, and was into old cars before he had his driver’s license in the mid-70s. Of course, old cars then were used up ’69 Camaros and ’55 Chevys, two of Stumb’s first cars. He has had over 50 since then, including an even dozen currently which range from a 1916 Hudson to a 1973 Chevelle SS.
After graduating for Auburn University and taking his first job in the newspaper business, Stumb saw the Great Race for the first time in 1987 in Orlando, Fla. In 1994, he participated for the first time as a driver and turned in the lowest daily score of the race that year – 4 seconds. As his family grew – he and his wife Karen have five children – and the cars in his modest collection got older, the one thing that seemed to remain constant was his annual participation in the Great Race. He competed through the years with friends, his father and his wife.
In 2011, after leaving the newspaper business after almost 25 years, Stumb became the Director of the Great Race. In the five years since, the event has grown to unprecedented heights, from a record number rookies to the overall number of teams. His favorite parts of the job are the people, the cars and places he gets to visit.
Life is an adventure and that philosophy is the foundation for Michelle Rigling’s love of planning and creating unique events and experiences for people. She had been with the company about a year when she “filled in” as Events Coordinator during 2016’s Great Race. She returned to Chattanooga with one goal in mind – to do it all again in 2017! Now as the permanent Events Coordinator, she cannot wait to be part of the event every year.
Michelle’s adventurous streak started early; she was driving a 4-wheeler not long after she started walking, she got her first motorcycle right after college and she hits the road whenever she gets the chance. Road trips are her favorite way to travel! Some of her fondest childhood memories include Chevy Chase-style family adventures. As an adult, she has crossed off many must-see destinations in true road trip fashion from Canada to the Grand Canyon to Key West. Still on her bucket list? Route 66 on her Indian Scout and the California Ocean Road.
Michelle grew up in Loretto, Tennessee and moved to Chattanooga after college. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Business in 2012 and spent a couple years in New Orleans before returning to Tennessee in 2015. Her career has been a blend of marketing, development and human resources. She’s a hobbyist photographer and the founder of a local women’s group focused solely on inspiring other women to embrace life as one big adventure. Her favorite thing about working in the auto industry is getting to see people spending time doing what they love, from restoring classic cars to rallying on the mountain roads of East Tennessee.
John Classen has been Great Race Director of Competition since 1990. He got his start in Road Rallying in the Sports Car Club of America rally program, in which he won several National Championships in the 1970s and ’80s. For the inaugural Great Race in 1983, founder Tom McRae asked local SCCA regions to provide a route through their territory. The southern California region picked Classen to write the route from the Official Start at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park to the Arizona border.
The next 5 years, Classen was a Great Race competitor, winning the Grand Championship one year and finishing second another. He also navigated for Curtis Graf for several of those years. Graf and Classen are the only two persons who have participated in every Great Race.
In 1989, Tom McRae asked Classen to assist with Race operations, and the next year hired him to be Director of Competition, a position he has held ever since. Classen has written every Great Race from 1990 through 2015, and with his wife Rachel Simon driving, he has run lead car on each of those events. And even as this is being written, he is returning home to California, having just completed his first Course Run for Great Race 2016 from San Rafael, California, to Moline, Illinois. “Watch out for the tunnels,” he warns.
2015 marked Brian “MotorMouth” Goudge’s 20th year of involvement with Great Race. As the ‘voice’ of this marvellous event, Brian has introduced Great Racers to towns and cities in over 400 venues across the United States and Canada. From Ottawa, Ontario, MotorMouth’s love of vintage, collectable automobiles is demonstrated as he introduces each team and their vehicles at noon and evening venues. With MotorMouth at the microphone each day, you can be sure that all the cool facts and figures about the cars and stars of the Great Race are relayed to cheering crowds.