1907 Renault enters the Great Race

February 23, 2012

The oldest car in almost two decades will compete in the 2012 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty as 100 vintage cars make their way around the Great Lakes in June.

Former Grand Champions Alan and Mary Travis have never shied away from a challenge. They won the Great Race in 1993 from Huntington Beach, Calif., to Norfolk, Va., in their 1910 Knox Raceabout while many contestants were traveling in their enclosed Model As and 1930s Ford Coupes.

And two years ago Alan, who was also the winner of the 1987 Great Race from Disneyland in California to Disney World in Florida along with navigator Wayne Stanfield in a 1916 Mitchell, raced a 1914 Excelsior in the Motorcycle Cannonball from Kitty Hawk, N.C., to Santa Monica, California

Now they will be racing a 1907 Renault in the Great Race.

The 105-year-old Renault is nine years older than the next oldest car already registered in the 2012 Great Race – a 1916 Hudson. In fact, there will be three 1916 Hudsons in this year’s event: Dave Reeder’s four-passenger speedster, G.R. Pike’s Indy racer and Howard Sharp’s Hillclimber. There are also two 1917 vehicles registered: John Hollansworth’s Peerless and Gary Kuck’s Hudson Indy racer.

One potential contestant is considering entering his 1914 Model T, but it is doubtful that anyone will have an older car than Alan and Mary’s Renault. In fact, there have only been a handful of older vehicles in the 30 year history of the Great Race. No one has attempted to run a car older than a 1910 model year since before the 1990 race. But in the 1980s, when there was prize money for the oldest car to just finish, a 1907 Thomas, 1909 Buick, 1909 Mecedes, 1909 DeLozier and a 1905 Cadillac participated.

Contestants and spectators alike love the really old cars. The contestants like them because of the age factor they get in the competition (for example, the 1907 Renault will get to multiple its daily score by .570, which cuts its score nearly in half each day). The spectators like them because you don’t see an old car like a 1907 Renault every often, much less one that is being raced 2,300 miles across the country.

In the 2011 Great Race from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Bennington, Vt., the 1911 Velie of Howard and Doug Sharp won the event. Their score before the age factor was applied was not enough to beat Beth Gentry and Tony Knowles in their 1932 Ford. But after the age factor, the advantage went to the 1911 Velie, and that is how the final scoring and prize money is determined.

The 2012 Great Race starts in Traverse City, Mich., on June 23 and makes it way north into Canada by the start of the second day. The route travels clockwise east toward Ottawa, Canada’s capital, before turning south and entering the United States again at Thousand Islands, N.Y. From there, the event will make its way west through Pennsylvania and Ohio before finishing on July 1 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

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