Great Race director Jeff Stumb was in Buffalo, New York this week to announce the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty will start in that city at the Pierce Arrow Museum. The Great Race had an overnight stop at the museum in 2012 but it will be the first time it has started in Buffalo. The race will start Saturday, June 23, 2018, and finish in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Sunday, July 1.
In a few weeks the people on the 2017 Great Race waiting list will have an opportunity to secure a guaranteed spot in the 2018 event and participants in this summer’s race will be able to enter in July. New York natives Howard and Doug Sharp brought their two winning Great Race cars — a 1911 Velie which won the 2011 event and a 1916 Hudson which won the 2015 race — to the announcement. See the press release below for additional information.
2018 Great Race to start in Buffalo June 23
Buffalo, New York, will host the start of the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Saturday, June 23, race organizers have announced. The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town for the $150,000 event.
“We are pleased to be working with Jim Sandoro and the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum to bring the Great Race to Buffalo for the start in 2018,” event director Jeff Stumb said.
Teams and cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and every corner of the United States will converge in western New York with vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1916. “There are more than 450 people just in our entourage from all around the world,” Stumb said. “And they will be spending four and five days in Buffalo before the start of the race getting ready for their 9-day, 2,300-mile adventure.” The race will finish July 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean as part of the city’s Canada Day festivities.
Along the route, competitors will travel two and a half days eastward through the state of New York before zig-zagging around New England. The last few days of the event will travel through the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island before finishing in Nova Scotia. It will be the first time the Great Race has ever taken place in the Atlantic Time Zone. Lunch and overnight cities along the 2018 route are still being determined and will be announced this summer.
The Great Race, which began 35 years ago, is not a speed race, but a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.
Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge other than staying on time and following the instructions is getting an old car to the finish line each day, organizers say.
Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public and spectators will be able to visit with the participants and to look at the cars for several hours. It is common for kids to climb in the cars for a first-hand look.
Cars built in 1972 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2016 Great Race a 1916 Hudson Indy Racer won the event from California to Illinois.
A 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber, a 1916 Hudson Four Passenger Speedster, a 1916 Chevrolet Phaeton, a 1917 Peerless Racer and a chain-driven 1918 American LaFrance Speedster are the oldest cars scheduled to be in the 2017 Great Race from Jacksonville, Florida, to Traverse City, Michigan. The 2018 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.
Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada, to New York City. “When the Great Race pulls into a city it becomes an instant festival,” Stumb said. “Last year we had five overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”
The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae and it takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of the Great Race and rode in his car from the movie, the Leslie Special.
The Great Race gained a huge following from late night showings on ESPN when the network was just starting out in the early 1980s. The first entrant, Curtis Graf of Irving, Texas, is still a participant today.