Jour­ney from Jack­sonville, Florida, to Traverse City com­pleted in a week


The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY SARAH RAHAL | The Detroit News


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

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