Premiere ‘Great Race’ to Stop in Bennington
Bennington will host a lunch stop on the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race on Monday, June 25. The world’s premiere old car rally, the Great Race will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town for the $150,000 event, with the first car rolling into Hemmings Motor News starting at 12 noon. Participants in the event will cover more than 2,300 miles in nine days, beginning at the Pierce Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., on June 23, and finishing in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 1. Teams and cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and every corner of the US will be participating in vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1913. “There are more than 500 people just in our entourage from all around the world taking part in this incredible adventure,” director Jeff Stumb said. Along the route, competitors will travel through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and two Canadian provinces. The Great Race, which began 35 years ago, is a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and penalized one second for each second early or late. The lowest score wins. Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart, if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge is getting an old car to the finish line each day, organizers say. Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public, and spectators will be able to visit with the participants and to look at the cars for several hours. Cars built in 1972 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2017 Great Race from Florida to Michigan a 1932 Ford Cabriolet won the event when it crossed the finish line in downtown Traverse City. That vehicle was driven by Jody Knowles and navigated by Beth Gentry, both of Georgia, who won $50,000 for finishing first overall.
A 1913 Bugatti, a 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber, a 1916 Chevrolet Phaeton, a 1917 Peerless Racer and a chain-driven 1918 American LaFrance Speedster are the oldest cars scheduled in this year’s Great Race. The winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse. “When the Great Race pulls into a city it becomes an instant festival,”
Stumb said. “Last year we had four overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race.” The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae, and takes its name from the 1965 movie, ‘The Great Race,’ which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk, a comedy based on the real-life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. The event gained a huge following from late night showings on ESPN when the network was just starting out in the early 1980s. The first entrant, Curtis Graf of Irving, Texas, is still a participant today.
The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty, Coker Tire and Reliable Carriers. For more information, you can go to greatrace.com or contact Jeff Stumb at [email protected] or 423-648-8542.