So you’ve read up on what the Great Race is all about, but you’re still not sure if it’s the event for you. There are many reasons to join the Great Race, but here are just a few to help you make up your mind. Most people join us each summer:
Our racers will tell you that once you experience the Great Race the first time, not only are you family, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason not to come back the next year. Simply put, the best reason to join the Great Race is for the memories.
Since 1983, car enthusiasts have been coming out each summer to drive their vintage cars across the country for the chance to win a prize. But the journey each summer is about so much more than winning. It’s about the cars, the people, the scenery, and the cities. And many of these aspects that everyone loves about the Great Race have not changed in the 30+ years since it started.
The Great Race, like many annual events, helps to mark time. Veteran racers that come back year after year tend to remember important dates by how they relate to the race. As in, “I remember that happened back in 2005, because we had just returned from Tacoma on the Great Race.”
Before becoming director of the race in 2011, Great Race Director, Jeff Stumb participated in the event regularly, starting in 1994. Here he describes how he first became involved with the rally:
“I was very fortunate the way my first race happened: I went with a friend in his car, so all I had to do was to show up in California. The race started in Huntington Beach, and even as we left the pier over the Pacific Ocean, I was not sure what I was getting into. My navigator and car owner, Ken Downing, had participated for 10 years, so I just drove the speed he told me and turned the correct direction.”
“As we left heading over the mountains to the desert and the first overnight stop in Lancaster, California, we turned into an industrial park for what I would later learn was called a maze. There were other cars crisscrossing in front and behind us, so we weren’t lost I figured. And Ken knew what he was doing. So I kept my mouth shut and did what I was told. We arrived into Lancaster to much fanfare, just as the race does today. It was then I knew – I was hooked.”
“I remember traveling the next morning on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the community of Lone Pine where many early westerns were filmed. It was a part of California I had never seen before. To me, one of the best things about the race was visiting places I otherwise would have never gotten to see.”
“We saw some interesting things in 1994 while crossing America: Highway 50 through Nevada (billed as the Loneliest Road in America), the Great Salt Lake, Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Badlands, Wall Drugs, lunch on a Mississippi riverboat in Wisconsin and the Finger Lakes Region of New York. And we saw tremendous crowds everywhere we went, including incredible turnouts in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Corning, New York; and the finish in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.”
Over the past 30 years the Great Race has traveled to some amazing places, as far away as Mexico and Canada.
These days, as the routes allow, the race still stops at interesting venues across the country. For example, the Great Race stopped at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2011, the Saratoga Automobile Museum in 2011, the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York, in 2012; the Marine Railroad in Canada in 2012; The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, in 2012; the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in 2014; the Unser Racing Museum in 2015; and the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California in 2015.