The 7th annual Coker Tire Challenge ended the same way the Great Race did a few months earlier – with Barry and Irene Jason at the top of the leader board in their 1935 Ford Coupe. But during the three days the 40 teams were in Chattanooga for the event, they were treated with fantastic weather, tons of great food, lots of friendly Tennessee hospitality and scenic rally roads.
Many competitors told us that it was the best rally yet. It all started with registration, tech inspection, rally school and a reception Thursday. On Friday, 40 cars – ranging from a 1930 Model A Phaeton from Pennsylvania to a 1930 Chrysler roadster from Florida to a 1957 DeSoto from Georgia – headed to north Georgia for a great day of twists and turns through the rural countryside. On the return to Chattanooga that evening they were treated to the traditional ribs and barbecue chicken from Sticky Fingers at Corky and Theresa Coker’s farm in Wildwood, Ga.
Saturday morning saw the racers head northeast toward the Ocoee River, and before the day was through they worked their way past nine checkpoints. When the racers returned to Chattanooga they were greeted by a couple of hundred spectators from the Towing Convention, which was being held next door at the convention center, and they were treated to cold drinks in the Coker Tire car museum.
The racers left early Sunday morning because the closing luncheon was held at 11:45 a.m. The only car to have to be put on the sweep truck all weekend – a 1953 Buick Skylark – was picked up just five miles from the finish line. Everyone else made it in OK.
In addition to the Jasons winning the First Place trophy, Alan and Noeline McKinnon were awarded the Bill Coker Spirit of the Event trophy. They traveled all the way from Australia for the rally. Second place went to Beth Gentry and Jody Knowles in their 1932 Ford Cabriolet; third was Gary and Jean Ann Martin in their 1938 Ford Coupe; fourth was Bill Harper and Larry Blair in their 1932 Ford Roadster; and fifth was Greg and Casey Cunningham in their 1961 Austin Healey.
1. D&D Ruttenbur–1930 Ford Phaeton–2m13.60s
2. Seets/Kramer–1957 Chevy Bel Air–2m34.28s
3. Merker/Gullifer–1930 Chrysler–3m00.80s
4. Oresti/James–1976 Porsche–4m58.00s
1. I&B Jason–1935 Ford Coupe–0m12.38s
2. Knowles/Gentry–1932 Ford Cabriolet–0m20.25s
3. G&J-A Martin–1938 Ford Coupe–0m25.20s
4. Harper/Blair–1932 Ford Roadster–0m30.06s