A Day of Mixed Emotions

June 24, 2012

There should have been excitement at the thought of crossing into Canada as we continued on our quest with the Hemmings Motor News Great Race 2012 presented by Hagerty. In anticipation of a big day, I was up and on the road earlier than usual, crossing into Canada before 6:30. The rain took a bit of the lustre from the moment. Driving through that rain, always on the watch for deer and moose (I did see 1 skunk!), I headed towards Elliot Lake, not knowing of the tragedy that had befallen that small community until I arrived in the town; mid afternoon yesterday part of the roof of a shopping mall in Elliot Lake collapsed, injuring several people and apparently sending cars crashing to a concourse below. That happened close to where our rally teams were to have their lunch stop today. A local state of emergency has been declared and a special Ontario Provincial Police “urban extraction” unit was dispatched to the site in case anyone was trapped and needed to be rescued. There were reports of people still missing. Out of respect for the community, our usual up-tempo welcoming of Great Racers was relocated to a venue away from the tragedy with no accompanying show. It blew me away that the host committee insisted that the drivers/navigators stop, have lunch and rest prior to departing for Sudbury. My heart goes out to the community as they await news of those who could possibly still be trapped in that inferno.

Here in Sudbury the show will go on, albeit with all of us aware of how precious each day is, and realizing that we never know what is just around the next bend.

20 comments about “A Day of Mixed Emotions”

  • I am sad to hear of the ordeal in Elliot Lake. I am following the race with interest and living vicariously! It was a thrill to see the start of the race. Thank you Hagerty for such an awesome event.
    I spent several weeks in Elliot Lake in the mid seventies when it was I think still a uranium mining town. Saw my first northern lights there. The folks there were very welcoming.

    I was especially moved by your last sentence. Life is precious, one day at a time.



    • Hi Lisa,
      It is a very challenging time for Elliot Lake and area residents. We’ll continue to pray for those families who are dealing with the collapse. Elliot Lake is a very resiliant community. Your memories of mining are correct. More recently it has become known as a retirement community for many Ontarians!

  • This morning (June 24) i had the privilege of chatting with some of the Drivers/Navigators in Bruce Mines, Ontario. I was totally amazed at how big this event is and how well organized it is. Looking fwd to following your progress in your journey to Dearborn,Mi and wishing all a safe trip.

    • Hello Bob,
      Thanks for the feedback! Great Race is an amazing event for staff and racers alike. I was ahead of the competitors this morning; managed to stop at Bobbers in Bruce Mines to enjoy a great breakfast!

  • sat and watched these cars go by today >first unaware of where and what some of these guys in old cars wearing goggles and scarves were doing.turned on radio to Sudbury station,AHAh >that is great,and it did take my thoughts away from the people in Elliot Lake only 45 mins down the highway for a bit.as last night we watched rescue crews OPP and so on RACE down the highway to Elliot Lake til late at night.
    wishing you all a safe adventurous race and sending thots and prayers to the people of Elliot Lake.

  • I have to add though .it is too bad that all small towns on your route could not been a lil more informed of your passing through.would have been great to have had people cheer you all on from the sidewalks.note for next race..

    • We try our best at Great Race, sending press releases to both weekly and daily newspapers, along with radio/TV stations along the route. Sometimes the media choose to print the story, sometimes not. That part is a constant struggle!

  • Still in shock over the tragedy in Elliot Lake. Keeping them all in our prayers.

    On a lighter note, I am looking forward to seeing the Great Racers in Barrie tomorrow eve. I plan on filling up the cameras memory card.

    • Hello Peter,
      You’ll need a camera just for hood ornaments…some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. I am excited about both stops tomorrow, Parry Sound and Barrie/Lake Simcoe both provide wonderful memories for MotorMouth!

  • ha! guess I should read newspapers more often! or pay attention to radio when Iam listening to it.My bad.Iam sure they did advertise quite well.
    sent note to family in Ottawa telling them of your stop there.
    have a graet rest before your next start.

  • So sad to learn of the Elliot Lake tragedy. We were along the route to Empire Friday — standing next to our Miatas — cheering you on and we came down to Traverse City for the line-up and start yesterday. The racers’ enjoyment of Northern Michigan was so apparent. Now, Friday’s and Saturday’s joy have turned to Sunday’s somber thoughts.

    Just learned today that a long lost friend is driving Car #97 — Ted Stahl. Wish I would have known that as I (unknowingly) waved to his car Friday along M-72 and also as I watched the pre-race line-up yesterday on Front Street. We used to work the Gold Cup boat races together in Detroit. If you get the chance, tell Ted that Scott says Hi!

    Safe travels to you all…

  • I am so sorry that we had to cancel our participation.

    But Beth and I wish you all a great event and save journey

  • My husband and I watched you come in to Sault Ste. Marie yesterday. It was so absolutely cool!! We also got a chance to talk to some of the team members. We wish you all safe travels.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with people in Elliot Lake.

  • Thanks for coming through Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I stood in the rain watching the cars make the turn onto the Highway 17 East by-pass, for over 2 hrs. What a spread in the time for this race. Watched a few interesting u-turns as well. There is nothing like listening to a flat head engine wind down to make a stop and a turn. Sorry about the rain. I will try and post some of the pictures I took. You guys in the open cars are definatley hard core. Best of luck to everyone.

  • Thanks for coming to Canada. My wife and I very much enjoyed watching all the vintage auto’s. We were at the finish line on Sat. in Soo Mich., and really enjoyed the sites and sounds of history. The rain put a damper on Sun morning but didn’t deter us form watching everyone pass thru Soo Canada. Best of luck to all and enjoy your stay in Canada. Thanks to the organizers.

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