“A Word” from Humpy Wheeler About the Great Race

July 7, 2014

If you know legendary NASCAR promoter, Humpy Wheeler, then you know that just getting “a word” from him is not an option. This man has stories that reach WAY back into the heyday of NASCAR, and he’s been around racing all his life. It was truly a pleasure to have Mr. Humpy Wheeler participate in the 2014 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty this year. After returning from the event, he sent his overview of the event…keep reading to check it out!

After having promoted more than 5000 events in my life ranging from 600 mile NASCAR Cup events to short tracks, boxing and wrestling matches, football games and tv specials I can say that just completing my first Great Race was one of the most challenging, interesting and sometimes even humorous of them.
This event is like getting married. You have to do it once to understand it and then big mystery is still left. If someone asked me now how they really worked scoring I would bum-fumble around but not properly explain except to say “to win it, you must practice a little black magic.”

It was a wild event from start to finish whether it was trying to figure out stop and goes in Ogumquit, Maine, to “we can still win this thing by scoring 19 perfect zeroes until we get to South Carolina.”
I truly believe now the event is a great way to enjoy motorsports without endangering yourself but using your driving skills and your automotive prowess to the hilt. Obviously your car has a lot to do with your success and particularly your braking, pickup, mileage and good condition. This is no event for the automotive dummy with a car with the faults of an earthquake.

As a matter of fact you spend a lot of time (when you are in pursuit mode) thinking about what would be the best car you could run so being a former car designer (Legends, Bandoleros and Thunder Roadsters) I came up with the answer:

a) 1932 Ford Coupe with SUPER DELUXE cooling boxed frame
b) 1964 Ford 289 cubic inch six cylinder engine with one Holley 4-barrell
c) Quick change rear end, disc brakes
d) Transmission with overdrive
e) Great, well tuned suspension
f) Aluminum Griffin radiator
g) Sweeping CRVA clock
h) Very soft and well formed seats
i) After market air conditioner
j) Call Corky Coker for tires (maybe the excelsior sports radial?)
k) Bright red acrylic enamel with clear coat

Now, while you would have a nice — not pure antique — car I believe we will stick with the 1953 Hudson, done in honor of my friend Paul Newman who did the voice of Doc Hudson in the movie I worked on. Not the best for scoring but the people loved it, especially the kids who also adored the movie (one lad told me he had seen it 200 times) and had his dad drive 100 miles to Charleston SC to see it. Now, my friends at Pixar are working on CARS 3 which will portray the early life of the Hudson on the dirt tracks of the Carolinas and will be ready in about 18 months and will make our car even more popular.
Yep, it is the cars like Doc Hudson that make the Great Race! Whether it is the hippie Corvair wagon; the 1964 Ford Mayberry police car; the old speedsters; the ancient Rolls Royce; the neat old Mustangs; the old Jags and the Bugatti that create the unique fabric of the Great Race.
As a 50-plus year organizer of events I can also say that this was one of the most superbly put together events I have ever seen. Jeff Stumb did a marvelous job of putting this thing together and (I know he will say otherwise) went without a hitch. And let me say there aren’t many guys like Jeff around!

5 comments about ““A Word” from Humpy Wheeler About the Great Race”

  • We enjoyed spending time with Humpy, his grandson Austin and his support driver Rudy. We spent much time listening to and laughing at Humpy’s stories. We look forward to the Humpy team being with us on future Great Races

  • I wanted to meet him, but he introduced himself to me! As a longtime NASCAR fan (rare on the west coast) I knew who he was, and as a Disney fan I knew that he has achieved a sort of immortality that other Disney voice actors have talked about. He told me Greatrace was harder than the La Carrera Panamericana the Hudson was built for. A 600 miler, not a sprint.

    Ii also thought it ironic when the Hudson’s distributor shut down just past Pocono raceway. I’m sure it wanted to go back and run the track!

    I guess I’m still old school though. I’m not ready for ‘modern’ engines, transmissions, suspensions, or a/c just yet. Exposure to the weather and wrestling with vintage parts has always been a big part of the attraction for us.

    My idea of the perfect GR car, after our roadster of course, is Chad and Jennie’s Auburn Boattail Speedster. Where else would you get to hear a Lycoming straight 8 roaring away from a stop, or see it leaning into a turn? Only Greatrace!

  • As an avid HUDSON enthusiast, and HET member of 30 years, I was proud and happy to see that we had five HUDSON cars entered in the Great Race. Humpy Wheeler is a legend in NASCAR and admired by us HUDSONUTS. Congratulations to ALL the finishers, and a Navy “E” to all the Teams and their sponsors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

• The Latest Stories •

• Thanks to all our Sponsors •