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 www.greatrace.com or contact Jeff Stumb at [email protected] or by calling him at 423-648-8542.

66 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.

    • Hey Steve Harness, I am a car guy in Willits and want to let you know the Great Race is stopping for lunch in Willits at Recreation Grove Park Tuesday June 25th. Come on over and have lunch with the whole group. Willits is serving lunch for participants and food and beverages will be available to the spectators for a small cost. Entrance is free so you can walk around and talk with drivers and navigators, plus get up close to all of the vehicles.
      So, invite your friends and join Willits to welcome the Great Race to “The Heart of Mendocino County.”

  • 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.

    • Hi Mike,

      If you and your Pierce Arrow would like to see the finish of the 2019 Great Race in Tacoma, LeMay- America’s Car Museum would be delighted to offer you premier parking at the Shine Time Car Show and “Taste of the Race” Food Truck Festival. Call the Museum and we’ll set you up! 253.779.8490

    • Hi Carl,
      The Great Race will be in the Carson Valley on Sunday, June 23rd 2019. Do not want to give out to many details but it is shaping up to be spectacular!
      Please feel free to contact the Carson Valley Visitors Authority for additional information.
      I live in Gardnerville so feel free to contact me as well.
      With best regards,
      Scott Bergan

      • will the route travel through big bear ca. Shure would enjoy seeing the cars travel along the lake.
        art
        big bear city

  • Can you tell me on what date the over night stay will be in Bend Oregon? Thanks for you help.

    Jerry Behney, Hagerty Plus Club Member

  • What time Sat. does the race start and is there a location to view the cars the day before the race. Thanks for your previous response.

    • The cars will line up starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, on Mission Inn Avenue between Lemon and Market (right in front of the Mission Inn). The show will start at 10:30 and the first car will leave at 11 a.m. A new car will leave every minute so the last car should be gone by 1 p.m.

  • I witnessed the start of the 1994 Great American Race at the pier in Huntington Beach, CA when it ran to Wilkes-Barre, PA. Since I still live in Huntington Beach I will have several opportunities to see it this year. Is there a detailed map of the route available to spectators or do just the participants get these? If available, how can I get one.

  • Hi, Would love to have you stop at our 50’s style Restaurant in Longview, WA. I will do up some cool specials for all who make the trip. My Restaurant is called Stuffy’s ll Restaurant. Check out our website and let me know if I can email you some great specials for your event.

  • Jeff,
    Our CC “Highlakes Car Club’ in LaPine, OR. will definitely want to see you all in Bend…and we usually plan a road trip to Crater Lake quite often so just might drop in and run with the tour into Bend if possible. I read you are in Grants Pass night of 26th so would assume a lunch stop at Crater Lake with some time for pictures and such then on to Bend for the evening. Hwy 97 to Hwy 58 the the cutoff to Cascade Lakes hwy around Mt. Bachelor into Bend if I’m not mistaken ?..
    What time will you be at Crater Lake..?.. would be much appreciated, Thanks
    Randy Rhoades

  • My team participated in the 2007 race in my 1957 Chevy Belair, which was the last coast to coast run. Team “Smooth and Sassy” will group together at my house in Grants Pass to welcome the current race into town and send them off the next morning. Really excited to meet all the new entries and share some stories.

  • Can you give me the route of the trip from Longview, WA to Spanaway, WA? I think I would like to tag a long with my 53 Willys Station wagon, but I don’t like to drive it on the freeways much, so if taking the slow roads, it would be great. I’m planning on being at the car show with it on June 30.

  • Is there any pre race activities in riverside? I plan to visit and hope to meet the contestants and cars before the race.

  • I run a parts business in Riverside and I am wondering if there is a flyer or poster I could put in my shop to help get people coming out to see the start. I would also be happy to make myself available for anyone who might find a need for parts before the start.

  • It says that you’ll make a lunch stop in Ukiah, CA. But aren’t you coming to Willits, CA – the Gateway to the Redwoods? (We’re 20 minutes north of them.) I hope so, because our city is making a lot of preparations to host you!

  • A note from Willits, CA, I am a car guy in Willits and want to let you know the Great Race is stopping for lunch in Willits at Recreation Grove Park Tuesday June 25th from about 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Come on over and have lunch with the whole group. Willits is serving lunch for participants and food and beverages will be available to the spectators for a small cost. Entrance is free so you can walk around and talk with drivers and navigators, plus get up close to all of the vehicles.
    So, invite your friends and join Willits to welcome the Great Race to “The Heart of Mendocino County.”

  • Sister & Tom invited me to drive on their support team in 2001 & 2002. It was a blast! In 2001 a NASA employee & I drove The History Channel executives in Tom’s 15 passenger Ford Econoline. That was the last year The History Channel sponsored the race. In 2002 I drove the race’s travel agent Terri Stanfield in a Suburban, & we became friends for life. There are no better people in the world than GR participants. Wish I could go again.

  • Jeff, where will the rally be stopping in Olympia, WA and will the vehicles be available for inspection? Also, which route does the rally take on the approach to Olympia? Thanks for your hard work …

  • Approximately what time and where will the racers come into Lancaster the first night. Would love to see them come in.

  • The schedule says the Great Race starts in Riverside CA 9 am to 1 pm. Are the cars on display for those four hours, or do they start leaving at 9?

  • I’m a big car enthusiast, I live in Independence, Ca right on the 395. I really enjoyed sitting in my front yard and watching the cars go by and taking pictures of them.

    Thank you

    Chris Siddens

  • Pls … re your Grass Valley stopover … what route, what streets are you following to get
    to the Grass Valley site for the stopover? People will want to see and greet
    the cars as you enter town. Thank you

  • Is Edward archer from Hayward California in your car tour. He is my uncle and I would love to see him in grants pass Oregon. Please advise

    • The finish on Sunday afternoon is at the LeMay America’s Car Museum, but we are having an evening stop at the LeMay Marymount on Saturday. We hope you can make it out to one or both of those stops!

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