Journey from Jacksonville, Florida, to Traverse City completed in a week
VINTAGE CARS GO THE DISTANCE FOR RACE
For 34 years, the Great Race has been crisscrossing the country in a rally that gets old cars out of garages and onto the byways of America.
This year’s race started in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, stopped through Ypsilanti’s Depot Town on Thursday and will end in Traverse City on Sunday.
“People in Michigan and the Midwest love old cars,” said Jeff Stumb, director of the Great Race since 2011. “It’s just natural to come to these historic old cities like Ypsilanti with a bunch of old cars. It makes for the most unique events in all motor sports.”
Nine international teams comprising 121 cars are competing in the time, speed and distance race. Each vehicle has a driver and a navigator, with only a manual clock, their speedometers covered, a map and pencil.
It’s not about which car finishes first. If the contestants follow the plotted map driving the speed limit, calculating their miles per hour, they should make it to the final checkpoint in Traverse City at a specific time. The one closest to that time wins.
“It’s like golf, the one with the lowest score wins. It’s about who’s the most accu- rate,” said Stumb. “The one who drives the speed the most accurate, who makes the turns the most accurate, who stays on time. We measure it out before hand and make secret checkpoints so we know where they should be at any given time.”
It’s $5,500 per car to enter along withtravel expenses. Participants compete for the prize money of $158,750. The first-place winner gets $50,000; the remaining money is divided among the others.
Curtis Graf is the only man to have taken part in every race since 1983 and is traveling in car No. 2. He has won the race once and his navigator, Wayne Bell has won five times.
“We get to see this great country. I feel like I’ve seen it all,” said Graf, 74.
Participants since 2006, Gary and Jean Ann Martin from Simpsonville, Kentucky, drive a blue 1964 Chevy Nova. So far, they are in the top 10.
“It’s going so smoothly,” Gary Martin said. “It’s been great and so beautiful.”
As navigator, Jean Ann Martin said the