Three-time Great Race Grand Champions Barry and Irene Jason have decided to retire from competition while on top. The Keller, Texas, couple became the first team in the 31-year history of the Great Race to win the event three years in a row when they crossed the finish line in Florida June 29. Now they are going to enjoy a new chapter in their lives that doesn’t involve antique cars or rally competition.
“We decided before the race that win, lose or draw it was going to be our final one,” Barry said. They went out in style winning $50,000 in their 1966 Mustang.
Practice was the key to the fantastic scores they have turned in over the years. “Sometimes when it would start raining when we were at home and I wanted to just relax around the house, Barry would tell me we needed to go out and practice so we could see what the car did on wet roads,” Irene said.
The Jasons have been competing in the Great Race for more than a decade, first in a 1951 Ford, then a 1935 Ford Coupe and then this year in a 1966 Mustang. They won the 2012 race around the Great Lakes from Traverse City, Michigan, through Canada and back to Dearborn, Michigan. They followed that with a victory in 2013 from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Mobile, Alabama, on a route that followed the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. And just last month they won the Maine to Florida event.
The couple said it would be difficult not being in the race in 2015 when it leaves the St. Louis area for Southern California on its Route 66 themed event next June, but they have vowed to visit the racers on at least one of their overnight stops in the Southwest.
Winning three straight years is impressive, but a feat that will never be topped was when the couple posted the first ever perfect score on the first stage of the 2014 event from Ogunquit, Maine, to Lowell, Massachusetts.
Three individuals have five career Great Race championships: Dick Burdick, Wayne Bell and Wayne Stanfield, but none of them were able to put more than two titles together in a row.