And They’re Off! Our Bittersweet Day

June 22, 2013

So, Ethan and I flew out to St. Paul for the Great Race Start.  That’s the Sweet part.  Great Racers make up the finest extended family a motorhead could ever want.  But we’re not running this year.  That’s the bitter bit.    Last evening, Jeff Stumb invited us to share dinner with all the Racers and crews. It’s wonderful to share time and tales, but a bit of a hurt to know we’ll not be out with the Race in the morning (sometimes this whole grown-up responsibility thing gets in the way of a really good time).   The sudden strong storm tore up things a bit on the way back to the hotel, but all seem to have made it through.

Today, we had a great day here at Back to the Fifties, in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, where the Great Racers shared the venue and some of the attention with 12,000 (yes, TWELVE THOUSAND) rods, customs, and restored cars of every description.  Holy Hydrocarbon Heaven, Batman!  Since almost all had V-8 power, that’s nearly 100,000 pistons’ worth of punch-it-and-go; yet the Great Racers drew all eyes for the start!

MN State Fair Map

Fair Grounds from On High (note scale lower left)

The fairgrounds are kinda big (sky view here shows it, about 3/4 mile on each side).  And every street, lot, and nook or cranny beside or behind every structure was filled with somebody’s rolling artwork.  i think we walked it all (my feet say so, anyway).

You can see the old banked racetrack, partially still paved there in the middle of the grounds.  This morning the Great Racers lined up there for the official start, before leaving at the main gates through the Great Race portable portal.

The Starting Lineup

Racers on the Track: Starting Line-Up

We walked the line, wishing well as many of our friends as we could catch up to; then stood and video’d the whole lot as they rolled out.  Kind words and best wishes, to and from all.  Man, we’re missing this already, BIG time.

By the way, with 30% of the teams being Rookies this year, the growth and excitement is just tremendous.  Great Race is here to stay (even if we’re not – but just this year!).  Fortunately for the Big, White, Fin-laden Luxobarge Division, there is a rookie team (#62, Team Ramisch), in a ’61 Caddy to carry the wretched excess flag in our absence (yeah, the fins are lower, the chrome a bot more subdued, but it’s the Great Race- make do!).   I don’t know who will win for 2013, but I gotta give maximum style points to This Guy and That Guy in the heroically power-challenged 1960 Fiat Multipla.  Wow – courageous fools or foolish courage – I’m not sure which, but I LOVE it.

Brave Fiat Drivers Launch Their Effort!

Brave Fiat Drivers Launch Their Effort!

After the Great Race left us, we consoled ourselves ‘shopping’ for alternate rides.  Here are some Likely Suspects:

Candidates for 2014 Support Vehicle?

Candidates for 2014 Support Vehicle?

I’ll miss every bit of it: the sweat, the  rain, the late night repairs, the frustration of missing Aces by 1 second, the mad dashes to correct our errors.  And I’ll miss the drive, the beautiful towns and countryside, Rallymaster John’s devious and challenging routes, and blogging the day late each night.  But mostly I’ll miss good times with our Great Race family and the camaraderie we share in this fantastic event.  Sigh.

Go do it, you guys – and have a little extra fun for us!  We’ll catch up to you next year!


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