We’ve made it past the half way point on the 2023 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Coker Tire! Today, we left Russellville, Arkansas and headed toward the mountains for a full morning of rallying in the Ozark Mountains. Although we have tackled much higher mountains on the Great Race, the Ozarks had steep grades and tough switchbacks that proved to be difficult for even the most seasoned racers. As the timed portion of the morning route came to an end, the teams were treated to a special loop through historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This town is small but packs incredible buildings and tight streets into its hilly landscape. After the loop, we stopped at the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks for a delicious lunch and a break from the intense heat.
The afternoon route proved to be tricky as well, and it was certainly hot with temperatures surpassing 100 degrees with harsh sunshine making things even more difficult. One of the cool scenes of the afternoon route was the “Little Golden Gate Bridge”, a one-lane wooden bridge that crosses the White River in Beaver, Arkansas. Another great feature was a tour through the Pea Ridge National Military Park. Both of these scenic areas took place while the teams were on the clock, which made things super tricky. Finally, it was time to roll into Joplin, Missouri, where our hosted evening stop took place on Main Street, which is also historic Route 66! We stopped in Joplin in 2021, and was amazed with the turnout and setting, so we wanted to come back and do it again! Joplin did not disappoint, as thousands gathered in the streets. At the end of the day, it was an incredible score of 3 seconds that took the daily overall win and it was from the team of Jack Fruin (a rookie driver) and Mallory Henderson, a veteran navigator in their 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang convertible. Tomorrow we begin our two-day adventure in Kansas with record-breaking heat on the horizon.