Day 1

June 11, 2011

The Thrill! The Glory! The Challenge! Welcome to MotorMouth’s Blog! Since arriving in Chattanooga on Thursday everything I did was focussed on today’s start of the Hemmings Motor News Great Race 2011 brought to you by Coker Tire. As drivers/navigators completed their pre race routines, MotorMouth spent his time reviewing notes and scripts for last evening’s banquet, this morning’s kick-off at Coker Tire and the two stops on the first day.

Last evening’s kick-off banquet was awesome! With Mountain Cove Bluegrass playing in the background, “sticky” fingers grabbed those pens at the silent auction tables and when all was said and done $6500 was raised for the Chattanooga Chapter for Autism. I was so impressed with the items…wanted to bid on the wines and cases of beer…then remembered that I’m only allowed to take 1.14 litres back across the border. Thank you to Brad Phillips who stepped up to purchase the Team Canada hockey jersey. I understand that it is going to find its way to the Haggerty Insurance Canadian Sales Representative… great to know that Haggerty is now insuring in Canada!

As for today…there was tremendous excitement as we got closer to the first car, off at 10:00 a.m. For many of us old-timers, just the thought of being back together as Great Racers was enough. How awesome that Corky has been able to step up and bring the Great Race back to life. How awesome that there can be a successful connection with VCRA! How awesome that the charitable goals of VCRA can be transferred interchangeably so that Autism America can continue to benefit!

As I finally got to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to America’s longest running vintage car race, the Hemmings Motor News 2011 Great Race, brought to you by Coker Tire”… I knew it was real! Having the pleasure of introducing Mayor Jim Coppinger to bring greetings, to be able to introduce Miss Tennessee 2009 & 2nd runner-up Miss America 2010, Stephanie Wittler to sing the national anthem was exciting. Too see the crowds line the street to send off the competitors, and finally to introduce all of the race teams and show them the green flag, I realized that to be back with the Great Race was something special.

Today’s first stop at Athens, albeit very hot was tremendous, with a great crowd, lots of enthusiasm and excitement. I can only imagine what a greet feeling it must have been particularly the rookies as that pulled in to the venue in front of the court house. I know that I was pumped!

What can I say and our evening stop at Wheels Through Time? It felt so good to see Dale, Matt and the museum staff once again, so peaceful in Maggie Valley!

As I reflect on the day, the trip up and over the Appalachians, following a skyway through not one but two national forests to reach Wheels Through Time Museum…the drivers/navigators are at a special seminar entitled, “What Am I doing Wrong” offered to assist those who feel a little frustrated by today’s challenge.

Early to bed…early to rise is something I learned as a rookie with Great Race! With six days of challenges and excitement ahead, I know that ol’ MotorMouth needs to pace himself!

Tomorrow, it’s a 7:30 start to Galax, VA.

I know that I’ll sleep well tonight!

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