2005 was my Rookie year for the Great Race. The route that year was from Washington DC to Tacoma, Washington. I was beyond excited to see what this was all about and to travel the more northern route across the United States. Our daughter was 8 and our son was 5 at the time, so we rented a van for my parents to drive them and they joined us as our support crew. We drove a ‘58 DeSoto in this race. We arrived in Washington DC not knowing exactly what to expect, but Chad had run the race the year before, so he knew a lot more than I did.
I did learn a lot on this race. One of the most memorable days was one in which we were given “Emergency Instructions” with our daily instructions that we picked up that morning. I remember we were at the Iowa 80 truck stop and the wind was blowing really hard, but I was diligently going through and making all the necessary changes to signs and instructions as the pictures showed. There were many changes that day. About mid-morning, several cars got caught up by a train so we were closer than a minute apart. All of the sudden, my instructions said to make a right turn, so I told Chad to turn. The car in front of us was Bill Harper and Larry Blair in their 1937 Green LaSalle. Chad asked me if I was sure we were correct, because he knew they would not make a mistake, so I showed him the instructions and off we went. Then Chad looked in his rear view mirror and saw that the car behind us went straight (another experienced race team) and questioned me again. After about 20 minutes, we saw Michael Martin in another car on the side of the road looking a little “lost” and turning around. What I failed to see was in small print on the emergency instructions there was a note to delete Instructions 25-75. So after going approximately 20 miles out the way, we hurriedly returned back to the spot where I told Chad to turn right and everyone else went straight. As a side note, we almost made up all of our time. We went a little faster going back to fix our mistake. To this day, I am still nervous when I get “Emergency Instructions.” It made for a good story and when we got to lunch and I was really upset. One of the other wives, Sheryl (known as the Shopping Queen) told me not worry about it and to “go buy a new pair of shoes.” To top it all off, we broke down later that day in a corn field in the middle of Iowa, so it made for a very eventful day, but we still had fun.
One of the most memorable city stops that year was in Twin Falls, Idaho. When we arrived that evening, each car had a sponsor that spent time with us and had all kinds of goodies. Ours was Wells Fargo and they even had a stuffed animal for our kids. Our children had a great trip that day too, they got to swim in the Snake River.
The 2005 Great Race was my first and one of my favorite Great Races of all time. We didn’t do very well in the competition, but we had a great time and got to see so many parts of the country that we would never get to see otherwise. We have friends all over the United States from the Great Race and even go visit some of them often. The Great Race is all about family and seeing the country on back roads and small towns. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we have been fortunate enough to do several times.