It’s Official: 2019 Great Race is Riverside to Tacoma

May 15, 2018

The 2019 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty will start in Riverside, Calif., on Saturday, June 22, and finish is Tacoma, Wash., on Sunday, June 30, race organizers have announced.

This marks the first time the Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will start and finish on the West Coast. The 9-day, 2,300-mile adventure will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to 18 cities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. More than $150,000 will be awarded to top finishers in multiple divisions.

“We are excited to start the 2019 Great Race in Riverside,” director Jeff Stumb said. “Especially with Riverside’s great connection and long history of racing at the old Riverside Raceway.” It will be the first time the event has been to Riverside since a 2001 overnight stop.

“We are also pleased to be working with our friends at LeMay – America’s Car Museum to host the finish of the 2019 Great Race. We have started in Tacoma in 1996 and 1998 and we finished there in 2005, but this will be the first time we have had the honor of holding the race in conjunction with America’s Car Museum.”

Teams and cars from Japan, England, Australia, Canada and every corner of the United States will converge in Riverside in mid-June 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 along the route they will see amazing sites, including Lake Tahoe, Redwood National Park, Northern California’s coastline, Crater Lake, Mount Hood and Mount Rainer.”

Overnight cities along the 2019 route are scheduled to include Lancaster, Calif.; Gardnerville, Nev.; Chico, Calif.; Eureka, Calif.; Grants Pass, Ore.; Bend, Ore.; Vancouver, Wash.; and Olympia, Wash. Lunch cities are scheduled to include Victorville, Calif.; Bishop, Calif.; Grass Valley, Calif.; Ukiah, Calif.; Brookings, Ore.; Crater Lake, Ore.; Hood River, Ore.; and Longview, Wash.

The Great Race, which began 36 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 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2017 Great Race a 1932 Ford won the event from Florida to northern Michigan. The 2019 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.

A 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber, 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 2018 Great Race from Buffalo, N.Y., to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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.

The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty, Coker Tire and Reliable Carriers.

For more information, go to or contact Jeff Stumb at or by calling him at 423-648-8542.

13 comments about “It’s Official: 2019 Great Race is Riverside to Tacoma”

  • I became involved with Greatrace in 1983 an ran my first one in 1984. I was hooked and returned 1987 thru 1995 and then came back again as a tourist class navigator in 2001.
    Since then I’ve followed them all, encouraging all antique car folks to get involved in the Adventure of a Lifetime.
    “If you don’t drive your antique cars, you might as well collect clocks” is still my motto.

  • I was fortunate enough to join the first race in 1983 with a 1941 Packard 160 sedan.
    This Packard served as a staff car at Fort Lewis, WA. during World War Two. The staff numbers were still under the hood.
    I bought the car at a local car auction for under $2,500.
    The Great American Race was on my mind and I needed a car to compete as at that time the cars had to be 1941 or older.
    I had the Packard painted back to Khaki green and bought clothes and helmets to enter the race as Generals!
    The draw of sending $5,000 entry fee was the fact of driving around the Indy speedway the day before the Indy 500 Race!!

  • I have had the privilege of entering the Great Race five times – four times in my 1932 Model PB Plymouth and once in a 1936 Buick Century. There’s really nothing to compare if you enjoy driving your vintage car. The Great Race organization are consummate professionals. The participants become like family members. Highly recommended!

  • The June 25 leg of the journey is from Chico, CA to Eureka, CA, with a lunch stop at Ukiah. I assume that this will be over the most direct and scenic route, California State Route 20 between Williams and Calpella/Redwood Valley, skirting the north shore of Clear Lake, California’s largest natural lake (Lake Tahoe is partly in Nevada) and one of the oldest lakes in North America, with volcanic Mt Konocti looming over its south shore. This will be great for me, as I live in nearby. Are the people planning the itinerary aware that Ukiah is about 6 miles out of the way for travel from Upper Lake to Willits, adding 12 miles of driving over the same stretch of freeway? Don’t get me wrong, Ukiah is a nice little town and Todd Grove Park on the west side of town is great place for groups to gather, but I’m sure lunch could be obtained in Lucerne, Nice (the Robinson Rancheria Casino has a huge parking lot and a fine restaurant), or Upper Lake or further up the road in Willits, saving both time and a several miles of dreary freeway driving.

  • I am thrilled that the 2019 Great Race is starting in Riverside. I live in Riverside and have followed the Great Race since it’s inception. My Dad always dreamed of entering, but unfortunately never got the chance before he passed.

  • My 1931 Pierce Arrow ran in the very first Great Race in 1983, still have all the magnets and quite a few of the decals still on the car. It will be there in Tacoma this year to see the racers off.

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