Great Race in the Movies?

January 9, 2013


We all know how huge the Great Race is in the old car world. There is not a car guy or car girl out there that doesn’t know about the event. When I go to car shows I meet three kinds of people: ones who have been in the race, ones who have seen the race in person at one of our stops or ones that are planning on doing the race “some day.”

But did you know that the Great Race is so popular and well known that there is a major motion picture about the event? It’s true. I have seen it.
The storyline of the 1988 film “Dakota,” starring actor Lou Diamond Phillips, is about a young man with a troubled past trying to meet up with his father who is off competing in the Great American Race!

It’s been more than 20 years since I have watched the movie, but it gets two stars from the International Movie Database. According to the IMDb, “John Dakota is young bum with a hidden past. He meets a nice family and works on their ranch. He soon becomes a good friend of the disabled son and helps them overcome local problems.”

The movie includes Great Race founder Tom McRae and a lot of the cars from the race. I don’t remember what year the race footage is from, but it is probably 1986. In the end, Dakota heads off on his motorcycle and hooks up with his Great Racing dad! Another happy Hollywood ending.

3 comments about “Great Race in the Movies?”

  • The Soundtrack has the “Great American Race March”. Has anyone ever heard it? It looks like you can’t stream it from Netflix, but may be available on DVD. It would be interesting to hear Frank Kuntz’ musical take on the GR!

  • I don’t remember the soundtrack. I will have to find it. It’s kind of neat that you can look up our own Tom McRae on IMDb and see his listed as an actor with one movie to his credit.

  • I was a participant in the 1986 Great American Race on an Alfa Romeo 6C1750SS 1929, with my late friend Willy Vernimmen and back-up driver Frank Nietfelt.
    I have the 1986 W Cable video plus a one-off video on Car 82 converted to DVD.
    Glad to hear that Sister McRae is going well after the disaster that struck Granbury Tx. My wife Liliane and I met here on our coast-to-coast trip in 1997. Please, give her our regards.
    On that trip we had a reunion with some of the former Great Racers at Ed Curry’s place in L.A. Tom McRae and Sandy were present and left on their Harley. I have takes from both encounters on video too. I understand that Tom had a fatal accident shortly afterwards.
    If of anny value to the actual Great Race community, I can send you copies.

    Kind regards and keep the old cars running.

    Jan Callens

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