Home Again, Home Again – How ‘ Bout a Song?

July 3, 2012

With 2200 miles of Great Race rally, plus the 800 miles to Traverse City and 600 miles home yesterday from Dearborn; we covered almost 3600 miles in the Great White Imperial since last Wednesday (time for an Oil Change).  Nothing broke, unless you count the continuing sage of our demonic brakes (time for an exorcist?).  The boys in the #87 VW made it, too – allowing for a bunch of starterless push-starts.  Running with only the stock VW speedo and limited experience, they did a great job.  It was a grand Great Race.

“Ace of Shame” – A New Great Race Tradition? Unearned Aces Go Upside Down!

Sunday was the last day of competition, with only a long morning, so the scoring folks could do their mathematical magic in time for the big finish.  We rallied through the fields of lower Michigan, jumping over railroad tracks and twisting through stop-sign mazes.  The Great Wide Whale we drove is not in its natural element going down some of the farm roads assigned.  Those paved-path roads are barely wider than the car – not really a problem until you meet a dualie coming the other way, and have to execute a game of chicken, or joust pass at over 30 mph with two wheels in the corn!

At least we could always see it coming.  This part of the world is flat.  No, that’s not right.  Flat is too lumpy a word for this pool table terrain.  “Planar” almost gets it.  Here’s a shot of the highest spot we saw:

Hill?!? Look CLOSELY!  (Hint: road bends right, crosses tracks) Checkpoint Hidden  There

In fact, the corn is taller here than most anything else (except maybe the occasional grain elevator or church steeple).  We noticed that it was getting taller all week, partly I guess as we were headed south from Canada, and partly as the sun’s energy drove stalks up like a bull market index, over the two weeks we were out there on the floor.

We had two unfortunate interactions with locals we passed this day.  The first made us (and other Racers) feel really cruel.  While we were in a field maze; we passed some kids with a classic front-yard lemonade stand.  They saw us coming down the road and put it all out for us, waving their signs and calling out for us to stop and take refreshment.  Of course, we couldn’t, but how could they know that all these cars passing by were on a timed leg.  Then we came around again (as the maze directed), and by then these budding entrepreneurs had seen almost a hundred Great Race cars pass by without even slowing for them.  They had retreated to their porch, heads in hands; probably convinced that enterprise in general is hopeless (or that Great Racers are just mean and crazy people that won’t even stop to help a youngster or take refreshment in the noonday sun)!  Sorry, kids – it wasn’t you.

We had a less sympathetic reaction to another local, near that same place.  As we passed a cluster of people around something else ahead, off the road to the right in the shade of a large tree; one fellow stepped out into the road and started waving his hands wildly as if to suggest that the road dropped to oblivion just around the next corner.  He looked at first like Bill Shipp (in the #51 Packard) and we feared Bill had gone in the ditch.  Especially with the recent accident with the Hedkes, the image was enough to make us slow as we approached – but we realized as the scene came into focus, that the ‘wreck’ was actually a barbecue, and the waving maniac must have just wanted us to stop and explain why all these old cars were going by him.  We didn’t stop; but I had lost the speed we were holding and that didn’t help our score for that leg!  Dave and I have taken to referring to the locals that watch and wave while wondering what’s rolling by them, as Muggles, after the uninitiated (non-wizards) in the Harry Potter books.  That means in this case, we were maybe Muggle-mugged!

We lunched in Ypsilanti, Depot Town district, a lovely main street setting, with the Hudson Motors museum at its end.  As we pulled in, the local Corvair club had come out in force.  I’m sad that I didn’t get over there soon enough to see and appreciate those cars (I still have an air-cooled  soft spot for ‘vairs).

Main Street, Ypsilanti, Michigan

So, we ran top-down all day and worked up a good layer of sweat.  Despite daily showers, we were still running a residual heat overload.  When we finally crossed the big finish line and checked in to our room for the night, the pool was irresistible.  In we went and swam off our sitting-on-our-rumps-a-long-time stiffness.  AHHHH!!!!

The closing banquet was a wonderful affair, held in the greatest museum of 20th century America; the Henry Ford.    The Jasons, Irene & Barry (she drives), took the grand championship.   YAAAAYYY!!!

3 Tired Great Race Cars, Resting Pre-Banquet:  Youth & Skill Far Left, Old Age & Treachery Far Right

Awards Banquet for Great Race 2012. Yes, that is a Real DC3!

News Flash! Youth & Skill Beat Old Age & Treachery! (of course, it depends how you count…).  We (O.A. & T.) placed in our usual solidly low midfield muddle (about 40th place in a field of 80-ish).  The Boys (Y & S) were actually a bit lower in the order, and they earned only two Aces to our five (and theirs are for good sportsmanship and wit, not perfect times – Corky gave them two from a deck of playing cards!).  On the other hand, they took 3rd place in their X-Cup division.  We were closer to 10th in ours.  Great Job , Guys!  And they’re hooked.  They’re already laying plans for their entries in 2013, when the Great Race begins in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

As we drove home yesterday, a little ditty formed in my head.  I offer it here to close the 2012 race blog segments (Speedster entries will continue til that car is ready, just not daily).  It was really special for me, to have son Ethan out there for the first time and to see him (and Nick the Navvy) cope and persevere.  To Finish is to Win!

“Great Race”    (to be sung to the tune of “Beep, Beep” with increasing tempo)

(original 1958, performed by the Playmates, written by Donald Claps & Carl Ciccheti)

– and to hear the original, in case you forgot it:


While driving my Imperial, (the Great Race ’round the Lakes),

My son’s Volkswagen was right behind me – would they have what this Race takes?

The boys must have wanted to pass us up, as they kept improving their scores.

We showed them it’s not easy to run a Great Race course.

Great Race.  Great Race. 

We finished the Great Race!


The boys were Rookies for this year, filled with Youth and Skill

But we’ve a secret weapon, and use it?  Yes we will!

Old Age and some Treachery, yes that’s all it takes

to keep ahead of those boys (didn’t count on our bad brakes…).

Great Race.  Great Race. 

We finished the Great Race!


At first the boys ran easy, and we won aces, too,

but the problems set in, and we wondered what to do.

Their starter died, they persevered.  Our brakes began to fade.

With Youth stuck doing pushing-starts; we thought we had it made.

Great Race.  Great Race. 

We finished the Great Race!


 Now we’re in the later legs, its hot and hard as heck.

We can’t complain; we’re both still in – we haven’t blown this trek.

The boys got a lower score one day, their mentors they did beat!

As our dying brakes caused us to fail in fields of corn and wheat.

Great Race.  Great Race. 

We finished the Great Race!


 Now we’re at the banquet, sure to win a prize.

But the little Volkswagen of Youth & Skill opened up our eyes.

The rookies never won an ace,  but finished in third place.*

Not their mentors in the White Whale: just a smile upon every face.

Great Race.  Great Race. 

We finished the Great Race!

(at insistence of Youth & Skill): * in their X-cup division, that is.

8 comments about “Home Again, Home Again – How ‘ Bout a Song?”

  • Now I get “to Finnish is to win!” just about everything in my body aches, but the experience, especially the people, more than makes up for it. Till next year Great Racers. Congrats to the winners, they deserved it!

  • I saw the start of the Great Race in Traverse City, Michigan. Just wanted to say to all who participated that it was great to see all the great cars and people who were able to be involved. It had to be a great challenge just to be prepared for both the cars and people entered.

    Great recap of the race by you for the entire time. I don’t know about the song.

    • It was great to see the start of the Great Race in Traverse City, Michigan. The people and cars all looked great to start the 2200 miles. The variety of vehicles was amazing. Everyone should be congradulated for just being in the race.

      Your song I don’t know what to think. Great job to all. I hope I can see more.

  • John! You guys are awesome and loads of fun in each of the finish gates. It was a joy to talk about the big white Titanic xxxxxx oh, forgot! The Iceburg! Thanks for all you do with the blog on this site brother!


    • Aww, Corky – you’re making me blush! Thanks to you, Tire-meister, for bringing it back (and for helping save Motormouth’s voice). But you won’t (likely) have the iceberg to melt again – we finally wore out those Cokers, so it has to be re-tired! Next year: the most beautiful speedster ever! A smaller, redder boat (a Ruby Yacht!) You better start working on a whole new finish-line shtick for that! 🙂 jc

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