Day 5 marks the half-way point of the Great Race, and we had one tough day of rallying in store. First and foremost, a record number of scoring checkpoints were in place, a total of 12 all together. Usually, a day of rallying has an average of 6 scoring checkpoints, giving racers 6 chances at either getting it right, or missing the mark. When you add more checkpoints to the mix, it makes for a high scoring day, because even a 1 second score on each leg results in a 12 second day. In case you haven’t been paying attention, that’s more than two times the average score of the daily winners so far this year. So, 12 checkpoints was the first big obstacle. The second obstacle was rough roads, construction and other distractions from the day’s course. This resulted in an increased number of time delay requests.
As for the “turn & burn” portion of the day, the racers had a tricky section in the morning route, which put them on the same road three times in a matter of about 20 minutes. Two of the three passes down the road required an “at speed” turn, which is always entertaining for the photographer. We snagged hundreds of photos of drivers pushing their cars to the limit, while the navigators called the shots and held on for dear life. Jeff and Eric Fredette get the unofficial award for most dramatic turn, with the Georgia Northwest Technical College X-Cup team coming in a close second with their Hemi-powered Desoto. By the time the racers made it out of the maze, it was time to head toward Owl’s Head, Maine for lunch.
The Owl’s Head Transportation Museum opened its doors and welcomed our entourage to the beautiful property. We had a few minutes to check out the museum, which features classic cars, motorcycles, airplanes and more. It was awesome to see those vintage airplanes flying around during our lunch break. One notable detail is that Owl’s Head Transportation Museum has an entry in the Great Race this year, a 1935 Ford Phaeton. After the lunch stop, we got back on the road and retraced our steps from the morning route. The afternoon route led us to our evening stop in downtown Bangor, Maine. A great crowd of spectators came out to welcome the racers to town and check out all the cool creations.
Adding to the story line of this race, the two cars involved (red/white Buick station wagon and 1964-1/2 Mustang convertible) in the accident yesterday were back on course. Both cars were repaired, and made it safely on today’s route. Also back in action is Dave Haverty, who became ill and was hospitalized at the end of Day 1. The level of commitment is outstanding. Speaking of commitment, it was Jody Knowles and Beth Gentry who tamed the tricky course, scoring 11.34 seconds on a 12 checkpoint day. You don’t have to be a math expert to see that they were on point all day long, earning multiple “Eckler’s Aces” (aka perfect score) along the way, averaging less than 1 second per leg, which is astounding. Take a look at our “turn & burn” gallery and hang on tight!