After witnessing the finish of the 2014 Great Race in The Villages, FL, Mike Weaver (now driver) picked up his phone and sent two text messages. One to myself, (daughter and team leader) and one to Charles Metcalf (long time friend and now navigator). It simply read “we are doing this next year.” I laughed this off, but soon realized how serious Mike was when he soon started sending me pictures of potential race vehicles! Driven and navigated by a couple of semi-tired lifelong friends and backed by our family owned meat grinding manufacturing company in Northwest Iowa, our rookie team, Team Rome, was born.
The 2015 Great Race started as a fun event that we could participate in, as well as use our race vehicle in a marketing campaign for our business. I’m not going to lie; I thought this new hobby would be a great choice in keeping my Dad (Mike) busy in his semi-retirement! Jennifer Andrews, Great Race Coordinator, warned me of how addicting this would become, but never in a million years did I think it would happen to us. Team Rome started with our Driver and Navigator and by the time we left for the race in June, our team consisted of 20 people of all ages. Our 2015 rookie race turned into a 12 month great adventure for our entire team.
What’s the hardest part for the team members that are not in the race vehicle? Waiting. Waiting to see our vehicle make it to the finish line each day. Hoping they not only make it safe, but in good time. We worried about the heat, breakdowns, running out of gas, wrong turns, flat tires, and missed checkpoints all the while knowing there isn’t a darn thing you can do except sit there and wait.
One of the things we really didn’t expect is how much there was to do for all the support crew members along the way. By this I am talking about the places to stop at and see each day, as we traveled to the next city. Being able to learn about Route 66 and the history, as well as sight-see along the way, was a welcome surprise and a welcome break.
As rookies, we never expected to meet such amazing people along the way. Fellow drivers, navigators, families, crew members, townspeople, etc. Everyone was so welcoming, kind and helpful. Our favorite part was being at the car shows each night after the finish and listening to the stories being told, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all while seeing the enjoyment on everyone’s faces. When they say the Great Race community is like a big family, it really is. We can’t wait to see everyone again in 2016 and we are looking forward to our next Great Race adventure!