This Week’s email update comes to you from our Director of Competition, John Classen.
Rachel and I have just finished Course Run #2 for this year’s Hemmings Motor News Great Race. It was a challenging run. In the south, we had days of heavy rain and a morning of thick fog. And when we got to New York and Vermont , early spring seemed like late winter. Although 18 inches of snow was forecast for April 1, our arrival date in Bennington (no foolin’), everyone was relieved that they received only 4 to 6 inches.
We’re from Southern California , where snow is something people go to, not something that comes to them. However, by June the entire route should be beautiful.. This year’s late spring should assure that everything will be in full bloom by race week.
We have an impressive Great Race planned for you this year. Here are some of this year’s features:
Warm-up Rally: We have added an optional 4-hour pre-race Warm-up Rally on Friday, June 10 in Chattanooga. We recommend that racers arrive in Chattanooga on Wednesday or Thursday so that you can Register and have your vehicle inspected on Thursday, to be ready for Rally School Friday morning and the Warm-up Rally Friday afternoon. The Warm-up Rally will be the second tie-breaker (after ‘oldest car wins’) for the rest of the event. Don Currie is returning to be Chief Technical Inspector.
Relatively short days: The total route is about 1575 miles over 7 days. The longest day is less than 270 miles, and the average day’s run is about 225 miles. No 450-mile days this year.
Relatively late starts: The current schedule has only one morning start earlier than 7:30 , with the majority of start times at 8:00 or later. This applies to your Support Crew also. No early starts for them either; they can depart each morning any time they want.
Relatively early finishes: Most days the parc fermé closes at 7:00 PM or earlier (one day it’s 7:30 , and another is 8:00 ), so you’ll have more time back at the hotels to relax, or, if necessary, work on your car.
Beautiful scenery and great roads: We follow the Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee to Vermont . With relatively short days, there is no need for long stretches on Interstate Highways. Other than the Speedometer Calibration Run each morning, most of each day’s run is on local roads and County and State Highways. The route spends the better part of one morning on a scenic parkway and much of another afternoon on a skyway. Most of the competition roads are lightly traveled, and hilly and curvy; there are few steep grades or tight, twisty mountain roads. No mid-western style one-mile grid roads this year. We cross 4 great American rivers, the Tennessee , Potomac , Susquehanna, and Hudson , a total of 7 times; one of those crossings is on a spectacular (and unexpected) toll bridge (have your 50¢ ready). We also cross three (free) covered bridges, and drive once around a historic Battle Monument .
A new state: Great Race has never been to Vermont before. This will be the 45th state in our 26-year history. Vermont is the epitome of scenic, rural New England , with its small-town charm, white-steepled churches, and covered bridges.
Automobile Museums: Five of our hosted stops are at Automobile Museums.
Extended lunch stops in Cooperstown , New York and Stratton Mountain , Vermont: Racers will have extra time to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And, you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular view of Vermont ’s Green Mountains, in a gondola ride from the Base Lodge to the top of the famed Stratton Mountain ski resort. Rachel and I rode the gondola (in a snow storm, of course); it was one of the high points of our trip.
Convenient hotels: In all cities, Racers are in either one or two hotels. On my two course runs, I have stayed in all but 2 of our 13 hotels; all are first-class properties. All will have breakfast available on our departure morning; where necessary, the hotels have arranged to open breakfast early so that it will be available at least 1 hour before our Official Start Time, and usually 1½ hours or more. In each city where we are in two hotels, they are within ½ mile of each other. And in four of the cities, our hotels are within walking distance of the evening event venue. We have negotiated great reduced rates and all of the savings have been passed on to you. You can now register for your event hotels by using the on-line registration web site of our Travel Agent, ADTRAV: http://events.signup4.com/greatrace2011.
ROOMS ARE ALMOST GONE – If you have already entered and have not yet made your hotel reservations, you need to know that our original block of rooms is almost gone. Hotel space is tight that week all along the route. If you haven’t entered, you better do so quickly. Don’t wait and have to settle for a hotel miles from the morning start location.
The Event Regulations are posted on www.greatrace.com . If you have any questions, fell free to contact us.
Next week I will give highlights of each day’s route and lunch and overnight stops.
We look forward to seeing you in Chattanooga in June.
John Classen – Director of Competition