Ride along with Shawn MrSedanMan Sherrill and John CustomCarNerd Meyer as they talk with Jeff Stumb, Director of the Great Race.
Great events don’t happen by accident and they certainly don’t happen in the blink of an eye. It takes a lot of work to develop, organize and run an intricate event such as The Great Race. The Great Race is an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways. It is not a test of top speed. It is a test of a driver/navigator team's ability to follow precise course instructions and the car's (and team's) ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times. Sit in on this episode to learn everything you need to know about the Great Race including how to can take part in one of the many stops along the route.
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Jeff Stumb – Great Race
You know, John, there's all kinds of different types of racing. Theres drag racing. We just went down to the Arkansas Mile here recently for some land speed racing. But there's also a thing like time, speed, distance Rally racing. the great race. I'm sure everybody heard about that.
Incredible race with incredible older cars and incredible talent driving those cars.
Yeah, some of the older vehicles that people would only normally only see in a quote, unquote museum setting, static, not running. These guys blast these things all over the country.
So yeah, from state to state for a long period of time or long distance. Today we got Jeff Stumb, director of the great race with us.
How you doing today, Jeff?
I'm great, it's always a great day when you're involved with the great race.
Give us a little information about the great race, what, what exactly is the great race? When did it get started?
You know it's a time, speed, distance rally for old cars. It is the most unique event in all of Motorsports because you don't have to go to the racetrack. We come through your town. The racetrack is the back roads surrounding your town and it started in 1983, a man named Tom McRae got a crazy idea to get these cars out of museums, get them on the road and do a race and it is a race. It's not a speed race, it's a race of accuracy. The winner, and there’s winners and there's losers. I mean the winner of the great race gets $50,000 over the total of $150,000 in prize money.
And the winner is the one who does it the most accurately. Who navigates every turn and every stop sign. We go In and loops, everybody thinks that we go hop on Interstate and drive down the road. Now we try to stay off the interstates and If we're going to the next town, that might be 30 miles away, we might drive 60 or 70 miles to get there loops & backtracking, 'cause that's what it's all about is who can and navigate all of the maneuvers, and it's a nine-day 2300-mile event.
The last race in 2019, the oldest car is a 1909 Buick and the winning car in the last race a 1916, Hudson.
Well, it was 103 years old.
Yeah, and that's not like you just hop in your modern Cadillac and drive down the road and everything is hunky-dory. You just fill it with gas and go. I mean, there's some work to drive in these cars and some maintenance to drive in these cars.
Right, a lot of people that are driving cars in modern day cars don't understand how it was when the United States didn't have roads or didn't have, you know, an Expressway to drive on and everything is smooth and perfect and everything that people drove in vintage cars doing 30 miles an hour and open cars And things like that and this kind of brings the experience up and close to people.
It really does and you know, we do allow cars as new as 1974, and we limit it to 120 cars total in the event because it is a race. Every car does the exact same route, but they do it one minute apart.
So, there's a 2-hour span between the first car and the last car. You've got this train of old cars moving throughout the countryside that's two hours long.
About half the cars are pre-war cars like the one I'm sitting in now is a 1916 Hudson Cabriolet that has done the race six or seven times and about half the cars are post war cars.
Not as many 50’s cars as you would think. Mostly there are some 50s cars, but mostly of 60s cars, so you can do the more modern and don't want to be rough it in a 1909 Buick. You can do a 1958 Buick station wagon.
Well, that sounds like comfort. Doing it different than a turn of the century car.
Yes, but you pay a price. Doing it in the more modern cars, the older car in the race gets a handicap, so the older your car is, the more handicap you get off your score and what this is, It's like golf. We have secret checkpoints along the way. We've measured the routes so we know exactly what time Each car should cross this checkpoint.
And each car is the further they are from zero the perfect score, which we call an ace, You could be 3 seconds early or three seconds late. It's just as bad to be the one you're penalized each way.
So, at the end of the day, the lowest score wins, but if I do it in a in this 1916 Hudson and I have a 20 second off of a perfect score for the day, and you guys do it in a 69 Camaro and you have 16 seconds off Perfect, your scores lower. You should win. But then the handicap is put in by 20 becomes a 12 your 16 stays 16. And then I win.
So, each day is its own individual race. As we move across the country, it's just like a NASCAR season.
We just condense it into nine straight days instead of over an entire season and each day it course can be.
Different, you can have a uh, one day, that's a lot of dead. We're going to cover a lot of distance, so where maybe we're doing some higher speeds the next day.
We maybe don't have to cover as much distance. There's a lot of twists and turns, so it's like being at Bristol one weekend at Daytona the next, and at Watkins Glen the next.
And to win the race.
Each day has his own winner, but you could be the overall winner without winning an actual day on the event because it's consistency. If you come in second or third or 4th every day, you're going to win the race.
Right, wow it. It's not like these guys are driving with a GPS or a map with given directions I mean from my understanding, they're given basic directions that drive X amount of miles. Make a left end.
Yeah, it's a little Cryptic in that we don't necessarily use street names. What it will tell you to do is at this particular signing of 40 miles an hour, and if the next sign dropped to 30 miles an hour, well, you don't know if that next sign is a half a mile or five miles down the road. So, until you get to that next sign, you can you hold your speed at 40. When you see the 30 sign your drive to 30 and instruction may say and then take the first paved road to the right and maintain 30.
You don't know what the road name is. GPS wouldn't help it off at why you were fiddling, trying to figure out the GPS. The road you might miss the road.
How do most of the people that drive, How do they measure their speed and accuracy?
Well, each morning we did what's called a calibration run. It might be 20 miles that they'll hold a certain speed.
Generally, it's 50 miles an hour and at the end of that 20 minutes, let's say it's a 20-minute period of time.
You’ll know, if you're off two or three seconds, slow or fast, and you can adjust your time for the day that way.
All you use is the speedometer, so it's all about doing the speed correctly and knowing calculations like if you if we're doing, 40 miles down the road and you come to a stop sign. We measure the distance to the stop sign is as if the car could stop instantaneously.
Well, you can't, and you can't start instantaneously. So, what we do is tell them to go to this stop sign.
At 40 miles an hour, hold for 15 seconds and then go back to 40 miles an hour.
So, you have to know how long it takes for your car to slow down, to stop, And how long it's going to take you to speed back up?
So, if you were in a that 69 Camaro, you might only stop at that stop sign for say for six seconds instead of 15. You might have a slowdown period of four seconds of speed up period of You know the six seconds and you would. You would stop for 5 seconds and theoretically you're on time.
In in a car like this, 16 Hudson, it’s so slow, I want to do that same maneuver at 40 miles an hour and stop at that stop sign.
I'll have to stop and then go immediately, And I've already taken up more than the 15 seconds just based on how slow this car is. So now it might take me 17 seconds to do a stop.
From 40 and back to 40. So, I'm actually 2 seconds slower now than I'm supposed to be, so I have to make up that time.
And you know this as a participant and have a good idea of the performance of your vehicle and you adjust accordingly.
Yes, and every vehicle is different. Amalla is going to be different than even a 32 Ford. As far as what we call a performance chart so that you know that every speed.
And every turn, how much your loss is so you know how to make up time.
And every car has got a driver and a navigator, correct?
Correct, yeah, the navigator. Is it like any? Even like in World Rally the navigator is The heart of everything. Telling the driver what speed to go. Watching to make sure he's going that speed when you have to make up that time the navigator has to say, well, we're 2 seconds behind.
And we're doing 40 miles an hour, I need you to go 44 miles an hour for 20 seconds to make up that 2 seconds.
So the navigator ended constantly looking for the next sign. If you miss a sign, Then the rest of it doesn't fall into place, so you have to find a sign. It's not as hard as it seems, It's actually quite fun, and 70% of the competitors In one race, we'll come back. The next year, I've got about 20 competitors that have done it more than 10 times.
I've got two or three that have had more than 20 times. I even have one man that's done every single great race since it started in 1983.
What, what does he typically drive?
You know, for years he drove a 1916 Packard Twin 6 roadster. In fact, he won. He won the very the most difficult great race we've ever had in 1995. That went from Ottawa, Canada to Mexico City and he won that race in at 16 Packard.
He drives a 32 Ford these days, a little bit easier as he's gotten older.
But so that's pretty impressive, I mean.
Yeah, that is absolutely crazy and incredible. Are there a lot of breakdown breakdowns and thrashing to get vehicles running or looking for parts? Or how are how are things like that handled?
Oh, it's over the years. Yes, breakdowns were a major part of the event and if you could get it fixed, there guys worked on the cars all night long.
Competitors would help ‘em out. You don't want to see you don't want to See a guy get sidelined because of something, You know, simple that it could be fixed overnight, but as the years have gone by, and as the cars have gotten, you know once we allowed 50s cars, then 60s cars.
And now I'm out 74. You know you've got half the field that's in basically a modern car. Need parts you could Call and have it delivered to the hotel the next night. I mean, it's a it. It's a lot easier and the preparation on the older cars these days is so much better than it used to be, so they're prepared when they come in.
And we lose about we're losing five or six cars you know, out of that 120 during the race, to some sort of a mechanical failure, and And sometimes it's really not that serious, but if they miss a day, they're out of the running for to win the race so they Sometimes they'll choose to go home. You don't have to continue on, so it just depends on who it is and what the what the car is. But you know we'll finish with 95% of the cars that start, finish the race.
Well is do you have a a styling limit. I mean, do you let Street rod type vehicles enter or is it only restored or old? The old lantik appearing.
No, we chronically we try to compare everything.
Yeah, we kind of Try to keep everything original as much as possible.
When you do get into the 50s and 60s, you know obviously a 57 Chevrolet could have a 350 engine. And we'll score it not as a 57 or scored as a modern entry so it gets no advantage there, but it's still all stopped looking as far as far as the Carlos sign.
General Outward appearance of it needs to be an antique for some of our listeners that may not be familiar with great race.
Yeah no, and you could come, and you could probably.
Pick out five or six that are.
Have street Rod Ish looking that that it's you know no blowers or anything like that. They yeah and hey we want everybody to have fun and they do the race, It's an amazing adventure to start with.
Plus you at the end. I mean, there's 500 people in our entourage that are all like-minded. They're all car guys and car girl. Every year is a different route.
In 2018 we went from Buffalo to Halifax, NS.
In 2019 we went four time zones away and started in Riverside, CA.
And finished in Tacoma, WA
the race this this summer is San Antonio, TX to Greenville SC.
And next year's route, which we just announced is going to be from Rhode Island to North Dakota so.
Just in those more races alone, you've covered everything from Halifax, NS in the Atlantic Time Zone.
Uh, as far West as you can go, uh, in the continental United States we were in Astoria Oregon crossing that beautiful bridge there on the way up to Tacoma for the finish. The last race, you know, it's far from the east coast you can get just about to as far as the West Coast as you can get. All in all in you know two races.
How do a lot of the pre-war cars handle the elevation changes, you know?
They do while they're there.
It's not as bad as if we're not going over the Rocky Mountains. It's not that bad and generally the elevations are increased gradually.
The year in 2016 was probably the only year in the last 10 that we've crossed the Rocky Mountains. We went from San Raphel California to Moline IL.
And but we crossed the Rockies from Utah into to Wyoming, and it’s gradual, and they'll just, you know, they know what to do with their carburetors to adjust that.
So, Jeff, how long have you been associated with the great race?
I pretty much my whole life. I saw the great race for the first time in 1987 at the finish at Disney World in Florida.
And by 1992, I convinced the race to come and have a stop in in my hometown in Alabama.
And by 1994 I did the race the first time myself and have been involved ever since and in 2010 Coker Tire bought the great race and I came on as I stopped as a competitor and came on as the director. So, I I've been involved, since I was 20, probably 24 years old.
A long time. Well yeah wow.
And as a director, what what's your job?
It's everything. I'm only really the only full-time employee of the event I deal with all of the racers, uh, whatever they need questions. I mean just this morning I fielded a half a dozen calls on different matters, somebody Has to drop out because of something in with their business. Somebody was updating me on the status of the car that the engine they're having rebuilt.
I Do the entire route. I picked the route I meet with. We stop. We do an overnight promotion and a lunch promotion every day on the event So, we will do 18 city promotions. I deal with all this the people in the cities. We come right downtown and then it's an instant festival breaks out I mean This event is free to the public. There's not a lot of free events anymore, and we come right downtown on Main Street, For the most part. In most of the cities we go to It's an instant for our celebration of America of the automobile of racing. I mean, people love to hear the word race and you know, they come, There's winners and the people are happy and It's just a great event to be associated with.
So Jeff, let's get a little more into your background. As a kid, what got you interested in cars early on?
Ha ha ha ha
My first car was a $300, 64 Chevrolet.
You know and then. Then then I spied something a little better, and then.
You know, I just they were...
They were transportation, but I knew you. You knew they were cool. You knew we, you know, we cruised in in Birmingham, AL when I grew up everybody cruised around Eastwood Mall on Friday Nights and you know I had to have a 72 Chevelle convertible and I would save up all week and get $5 of gasoline. Even at $0.69 a gallon. You know $5.Uh, I didn't get a lot when the car got, you know, 9 or 10 miles to the gallon.
Now we would cruise on Friday night, so we knew the I knew the cars were special.
Had a little bit of everything. 69 Camaro. It was a 396 four speed car up. Pretty much you know, but this was nineteen 77-78. You know 69 Camaro was.7,8,9 years old. love ‘em.
Went through quite a few cars and one day I saw a 1936 Ford Roadster, Flathead roaster and I thought Oh my goodness, what is that? And I even bought books from people I knew and from the library. I checked out books to read about these older cars and You know, the next thing I knew I had a Model A and then that was their little small for me.
I'm pretty big guy and so we went through my life phase and most of this is done with my dad who's who you know when he was growing up in the in the early 50s, he and his His brother-in-law raced, you know, in beat up 30s flatheads you know they take the fenders off and dirt track racing and they in their town and they were pretty good as we started some newspaper clippings and that kind of thing.
And so you know, we didn't allow this together and it just kept getting older cars and older cars and finally, I really enjoy learning about an old car like this 1916 Hudson cabriolet.
Is the only one in existence and it's a super six, first year of Super 6.
And it's a 3 passenger. What they called a 3 passenger 'cause I guess the passengers were really small back in the day.
Ha ha ha
There's not a Lot of room here for three people,
and we've through the years I've probably put 12,000 miles on this car, maybe 15,000.
Whether it was on the great race we still use it these days to do local tours and we just did a tour in South Georgia called the Social Security Run that we like to do every year.
And I do those now with my 15 year old son. So, he likes to go and He likes this car and.
I just like learning about ‘em and I'll actually buy a car just to learn about it.
And I've got some pretty interesting marks. I like the orphan marks. I have a 1915 Winton limousine.
Uh, we have a 1924 Marmon 4 passenger speedster.
I have two 1929 Roosevelts. They only made Roosevelt for a year and a half and about I bought the first one because the radiator emblem has a profile of Teddy Roosevelt and I thought that was, I thought that was the neatest thing I've ever seen, so I've got two of those now, so it's.
And I guess that one of the neatest cars I have Is a 1928 Buick Country Club coupe and has optional wire wheels and it has side mounts so it has six wire wheels and the this was the last car that Barney Oldfield the great racer from the early 20th century, is the last car that he ever owned.
That sounds like a pretty cool line up there.
That's that sounds like some pretty cool cars.
The great race has always had our little mascot right here and that is Barney Oldfield. That's kind of our mascot.
That car that you're sitting in has it been restored? Is it a survivor? Was it restored by you?
I did not restore it, although we've had to rebuild the engine after the 2005 great race. I threw a rod on the last day We went all the way from Washington DC to Tacoma, WA and we're at the base of Mount Rainier. Head into combing through a rod. so, it we I have rebuilt the engine in this car but it was restored Mid 90s the mid I guess the mid 90s last time but it's been driven like I say so many miles that it's the yeah it it's a driver it says a lot of wear and tear on it. It's not. It's not perfect by any means.
But cars are meant to be driven so.
Right, no matter what you do, always get out and Drive exactly,
but how long have you owned that car?
I'll probably 20 years.
Wild then OK you've.
It's the only car.
Got some history with it.
I have that's not for sale. I tell you an interesting story on that 2005 great race.
My wife was in that on my navigator. He navigated for me in 2004 and 2005 on the event and she's really good. She's a mathematician by trade.
OK, that helps.
Oh it, it definitely helps. You gotta be able to add some numbers together.
Right, we went all the way across the country and we the car broke down at the base of Mount Rainier and we're sitting there. So we were up near the front. So when you when you break down There's a sweep truck at the end. It follows the last car and we had to sit there on the side Road, but it was beautiful river running Down the mountain and you know.
It was just a beautiful setting. If it wasn't so disappointing.
And we sat there. We had to watch every single car go.
Every minute another car went by waving at us and we kind of. We gave him a thumbs down.
That just means we were out , yeah.
Right, right, right.
And so, my wife and it's a tiring event and We Flew back home, and she said she was just so tired, and she said, I just I just feel so tired and 'cause we're in our 40s at this time, and we have four children and the oldest one was, I think, 14. The youngster was 10 and She's just I am so tired, and she goes home, and something is not right. I just got this, that race really took it out of me.
And she finally went to the doctor and found out what was wrong. Turns out she was pregnant and had been pregnant on the whole race.
That that's why this car and this our son who's 15 now? So, we named him after the car.
Very nice, very nice. That's pretty cool. We always going.
Yeah, so I could see why you're attached to that car and it why it's not going anywhere.
I know all the different types of cars that you have currently and everything that you own and things.
What kind of car do you take your driver's test in? We always ask.
My mother's 1970 Oldsmobile 98, The battleship, huge!
Yeah, big car.
The biggest car I've ever seen in my life. It was green with green interior and the interior look like a uh, the sofa at your grandmother's house.
And even in the back seat it had little things like the cars from the 20s that would flip down that you could put your rest your feet on the back seat was huge.
When we were little, my parents would put the luggage when we go on a vacation and we went to Pennsylvania a lot, which is where my dad was from and he they put the luggage in the floorboard of the back seat to bring it up to the level of the seat cushion.
And there was just this giant Area that my sister and I There were no no seatbelts or anything.
Then My sister and I could just have this. This giant area to move around and play, to do whatever, we take naps.
That was a huge huge car I've never seen, and I've never seen another one since we sold that car, probably in 1979 or 80.
Right, right, very cool, very cool.
I know, I know that you talked about the great race for a little bit and it keeps going on my brain, logistics for that Do you have help around the country setting up the route? Working with the cities and towns and people that you're going to go through? Talk to me about logistics.
Yeah, it's uh it. It can be a nightmare. One of the reasons we limit it to 120 is the logistics. If you think about a launch stop First car arrives at noon. He stays for an hour, so he leaves at 1:00 o'clock Because he's been there an hour. That's when the car. That's the middle car arrives, and when that middle car ride has been there for an hour and he leaves the last cars just arriving and he's going to stay for an hour so logistically, it is a nightmare and I set everything up by myself. But when it comes to race day, Uh, I have 40 volunteers that take their vacations every year to come work for us. They run checkpoints, we have set up crews, we have souvenir sellers, and all these people are all volunteers and they're from all over the country and most of them have been doing it for a long time, a lot of more than 20 years have been doing this. You know, we pay their way and they just, they just love it. They come spend their two-week summer vacation with me every year.
How do you scout out again what I'm talking about with logistics? How do you scout out the route?
You know a Lot of it. What I do is decide and I'll. I'll use next year's route. As an example, Rhode Island to North Dakota.
In the almost 40-year history of the great race, we've been to every state of the 48 on what we used to call continental United States. We've been to every state except Rhode Island and North Dakota.
And for about seven or eight years I've been trying to figure out how to get to each of those, do we do we try to get through Rhode Island when we go from Maine to Florida? Well, it didn't work.
North Dakota is a particularly difficult place to get to, for example, and I thought, well, the only way we're going to be able to do this is if we start and one and finishing the other.
Let's try this approach each city with a proposal, here's what we'd like to do. You know, this is how many hotel rooms we need. This is how much space we need. This is what I need you to do in your town closing down streets, et cetera, et cetera.
And I get the start and the finish put together of where we're going to go, 'cause it's a distance thing.
Those nine days, about 2300 miles, not 2300. Straight line miles. It'll end up being about the 1600 If you were doing it straight, so what we take to do in nine days you could do in your car in a day and a half.
And then I put the pieces of the puzzle together in the middle.
And we don't like to go more than about 225 to 250 a day.
While some days end up being 300, maybe 350 especially if were out West.
Like we try that we try to keep around, you know two 225 to 250 is the magic number.
So, we'll just. I'll go in and I'll say, well, this you know, here's the route we'd like to take.
And start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Sometimes it moves East Coast and the Midwest, and the southeast is not a problem if you if you want to go to city A and it's just not working out for some reason, I can go to the city B this 30 miles away and it doesn't affect what we're doing that much.
So, the overnight cities have to be obviously of a certain size to have the hotels to accommodate us.
You know when you're starting in in Providence, RI You've got pretty much everything you need. In fact, we're using one hotel that's large enough for everybody, including all of our meeting space that we need.
And then as you move along the second overnight on next year's top is, or next year's race is going to be Binghamton, NY That's a niche City for us. You know the city is 250,000 and last, I could go in there and it'll be the biggest event of the year in that town.
If I were to go to Indianapolis It might not even be the biggest event of the day, so you know, especially if there's an NFL football game or whatever is whatever is going on.
So, we really like somewhere like Binghamton, NY and then the next overnight is going to be Erie PA.
Oh, these are perfect cities for us. Nine times out of 10 when I approach the city, they hear they hear a few minutes of it, and they're sold.
The pictures and the videos will sell it very quickly to these cities who see 500 people from all around the world.
The left teams in Japan, Germany, England, Australia and Canada. And then of course, all over the United States. Unfortunately, the race this year and this summer and in three weeks All of our international teams are out, but we still have a full field of 120 cars from, you know, from Maine to Florida, to California to Washington.
Right, have you had cities that didn't want to be involved with you?
One of the you know say, I can't hang my hat on this, to my to my boss because it doesn't come back every year, you know, and so they sometimes they just don't grasp it and most of these people are not car people.
The ones that, you know like it, they like it because it's a unique event and mostly people that come to the stops and we'll have We'll have anywhere for, you know it's small stop for us is 1500 people. Large stop can be anywhere from 3000 to 7000. We've had him over 10,000.
You know, but the majority of the people there are not car people. They don't know a model A from a Mustang.
It's a free, fun family event and we get to educate some people when they leave, they know the difference between the Model A and a mustang.
That is, that is great have.
You ever repeated the same route twice? Or is it always a new route?
Always a new route, but we will because we criss-cross we do catch a lot of cities again, Missouri seems to be a hotbed for connections because we're always cutting, it seems like we're always cutting through Missouri. We're we'll be there on this summer for two days, actually.
These third stop overnight stop is in Joplin, MO.
And the 4th overnight stop is in Cape Girardeau, MO, which in 2013 was voted the Best city on the race by the Racers. And that was a race from St. Paul, MN. to mobile AL and we went down the Mississippi River we crossed the Mississippi River 12 or 13 times on that race.
All way down that was a fun one.
Well, we'll be. We'll be down there to rub elbows.
Yeah Cape, yeah.
Yeah Cape Girardeau. We'll be. We'll be there, so we'll make sure to find you and say hello.
Yeah it, I expect it will be one of the best stops again on the on the race.
They know what they're doing, they get they form committees they.
Really put on a great show in.
I will tell you we got about 3 days in a row with Joplin, cape Girardeau the next nights in Owensboro, Ky, and those are all niche type cities and they are all gonna knock it out of the park because, Now with COVID and now everybody could come out, and I mean, they're just they're just itching for a. This is an outside event.
It's free and family friendly. What's there not to like?
Right? Yeah, that that sounds good. Do you? Do you have help or do you personally? 'cause I know you say you measure these in time. These do you have help or do you personally time the races and everything yourself?
We do have a guy who's our director of competition.
And he this is what he does for me. Tell you about 9 weeks a year to do this and he measures the course out three times.
In fact, he is, as we speak on his third and final course run for the race. That's in this in three weeks and.
You know, and we also have a couple that runs the day before us because you'd be surprised how many signs change just in a three week period between now and the day before.
And then we have a car that runs one hour ahead of the first car because you wouldn't believe the number of signs changed from the day before.
Really though, holy cow.
Somebody texting, you know somebody texting and runs over one of my signs from the day before and we get there and the personal puzzle doesn't work because it's couldn't go to the next instruction to complete the instruction your own.
And if that you don't see that sign, there's never. It's a never ending search for a sign that's not there.
Right, yeah, did you think about that, yeah?
Wow, yeah I didn't. I didn't think about that at all. That's that is that is interesting.
Yeah, well sounds like quite a challenge.
Like what yeah, she'd learn to drive by the lay of the land.
That is crazy. I know we always ask people about, Collections of things I know you're into full size vintage cars. Do you have any diecast cars or collections of small stuff and car memorabilia?
You know, I've never Really gotten into memorabilia. Uhm, I bought a sign here and there and a few things here and there. It's just never. It's never struck me as much as the cars themselves.
And I do have behind me there's a 1964 Biscayne 409, 4 speed car, so yeah.
Wow, neat car.
And my wife has a 63 Corvair Spyder convertible. That's the Turbo 4 speed that's A fun car.
Yeah, but that's a pretty neat car.
Yeah, we have a lot. We like that I guess I collect a few.
A few radiator, motor meters.
And some of them are interesting. I don't have anything that's extremely rare or anything like that, but I do like radiator badges.
I've got a. I've got a few, a couple of those Roosevelt ones. I was telling you about with the profile of Teddy Roosevelt. I've got a couple that are just absolutely immaculate that I keep, You know, on the shelf in my office.
Too nice to even put on a car.
Do you have any stories of wacky stuff any? I know we talked briefly about the breakdowns, but any wacky things or crazy things that listeners would like to hear that may bring them to the event?
Or things that have happened to other participants earlier.
You know, through the years you deal with this Many people you You know, in different people doing the race, it's a bucket list item for a lot of people.
In 2015, we had eight Japanese teams come over, and we had not had any. We don't have any Japanese teams since the 80s and they came over, didn't speak a word of English.
And they had a translator who Spoke about as much English as I speak Japanese.
I mean it would be very difficult to understand.
And we were going from Kirkwood, MO, right outside of Saint Louis,
I was there.
right on Route 66 and we, you know we didn't It was a route 66 themed race, so we zigged & zagged back and forth across and we'd hit up all the iconic stuff. But we also did, went out and did our rally out on road roads that weren't Route 66.
But these Japanese teams Didn't speak a word of English and what you can do this event. He already matching up signs if you could see, I gotta find this sign.
It says to be 35 and you got the speedometer and then you know so they did pretty well. Well we got out in New Mexico There's not a lot of roads in New Mexico, and on this race, people do not get lost. I mean, it's you might make a wrong turn and you figure it out almost instantaneously and you get back and you correct you get back in your in your spot if you.
All the teams who came in I the finish was in Gallup, NM. I think we started in. We started Santa Fe.
We went down to Albuquerque.
And had lunch stopped at Unser’s Museum.
And Al Unser, Al made a special arrangements to be there because he loves the great race and there's one of the highlights of my life. Was to get them to meet Al Unser get to be friends with Al Unser and have my picture made and that that was that was really great at my.
The first Indianapolis 500 I went to was the 1987 Indianapolis Race and Al didn't even have a ride. Danny Ongais Was hurt severely in that in practice, and so Al got the ride and started dead last.
And he just plodded and plodded and plodded and stayed and with ten laps left, Roberto Guerrero had a half lap lead.
And Al worked his way, just being consistent.
Just being efficient, you know Al this guy at his age.
At that time would be.
Slower is faster.
And Roberto Guerrero pulled into the pits.
With 10 laps left, let's get splash of fuel and you could hear it on the we could. We were in turn 3 and you could hear him in the in the pits.
And it he killed the car.
And here comes Al.
Place went nuts 400,000 people just. I mean Al won the race three times, he’d been there forever and since the 50s and the place went nuts.
So, he wins his fourth race. He not even supposed to be there, right?
And then Fast forward to 2015 and I get the meeting man that just never knows highlight so we the rest of the day was I, I know, we went through Tucumcari the day before, but anyway, so we're out in the middle of, I mean desolate New Mexico, there's not a lot of roads but the finish is in Gallup.
Near the four corners
And then Every car comes in. We're checking them off. Every car comes in and one Japanese team is a husband wife team.
They didn't come in. The sweep truck comes in and they said no we don't You know we didn't. We didn't see him.
And the promotion goes from about 5 PM to 8 PM when they should have been in by say at 6:30.
Seven comes in, all the cars are in 7:30, still nothing.
About two or three minutes to 8:00 o'clock, 'cause we're at 8:00 o'clock. Everybody we break down everything and everybody goes to the hotels.
Here comes this little, I think it was a little it was one of those little 6 Datsun 1600 roadsters and they pull, they came in. He hit the finish line, He turned the car off. He got up. He got on top of the car on the hood and jumped up and down like he had just won the Indy 500 and his poor little wife was sitting there she was Navigator.
And she was all fine until they hit that finish line. And then she just still broke down. She started crying. She started shaking.
Uhm she was distraught.
They had gotten out somehow on some road.
You know I got 50 miles the wrong direction out in the middle of nowhere and don't speak any English and somehow they figured intern and maybe somebody point in the right direction to get the dial up and they pull in 'cause there's you know the scores just Terrible, but.
You know and absolutely the worst score of the day. And but he made it to that finish line and you know, he was just ecstatic.
He was, I mean, literally jumping up and down on the hood of his time. He was so his little wife was just like I think she thought they were gonna never be found, you know, and it wouldn't.
One of those you know steer skeleton heads out there, you know and that's it.
Right next to.
I know I. Myself I couldn't do the great race in in Japan.
No, you know I couldn't know I couldn't do that.
Yeah, I could only imagine how they felt over here.
That is correct.
I really admire what they were able to do because I've been to Japan and there's no way I could have figured out what they did, right?
No, that was a that's insurmountable feat.
So, Jeff, if somebody wants to learn more about the great race, where would they go?
Greatrace.com and there's videos There's pictures There's information on how the race runs. There's a, there's a tab for what we call rookies You know first timers and there's a There's a rookie handbook that pretty much explains. Here's what you do and here's how you Proceed to do this. There's videos of how the instructions work when we go step by step with, you know, by the instructions that you have right there. So, a lot of great information.
There's a tab for to a waiting list to get on a waiting list. The race is so popular that it takes two to three years to get in the race. You have to get on a waiting list. You have to wait for that year race to pass.
Then you get the option. You know the. So, you might be on the wait list for 18 months and then you get in the spring You get an email to give you an option to pay a deposit That will guarantee your spot in the race Next year, so now you gotta wait Another 15 months.
So, it's a long term. If you're in the race, you automatically have a spot for you for the next race and 70% of the racers picked that spot up.
And so, it's not something you want to do on a whim. You want to take 18 months, 20 months preparing not just your vehicle, but preparing to know how it works.
The worst thing in the world is to get out there and on day two your car is broken down on the side of the road.
Or get out there on day two and you're going I don't. I don't know how to do this. We have plenty of instructions of how to do this We have mentors. We give every rookie team of veteran mentor.
Generally, somebody in your area or somebody with a similar car or somebody that's the same thing like a husband-and-wife team will try to pair it with Husband-and-wife team so.
There's plenty to do, to prepare, so it it's you want to you want to spend 18-20 months getting ready.
Right, and do you have many younger People coming out and doing this race.
We do we have what's called X cup division, which is high school and college teams that that compete for scholarships. Each team will get $2,500 dollars we do not charge them an entry fee.
And we give them $2,500 from a fund that's been raised by the racers.
And then they can earn Scholarships on top of that
Are you involved or is great race involved in any automotive based colleges or any anything that way?
Uh, we just started a relationship with our RPM and they are helping us with that with the X Cup division, which has been we've had for 20 years. We have 4 teams, 4 X cup teams in the race this year but they're helping us get involved with a lot of high school and colleges that that have programs like that.
'cause we always try and push the next generation and making sure we pass the information on so that future generations can continue to have fun with the cars as we have, right?
So, Jeff, if a spectator wants to come out to any of these cities and watch the people from the great race come in, where could they go to find out more information about where to go and how to how to enjoy it?
You can get the schedule on greatrace.com for each city you know it starts on June 19th in San Antonio and it will finish on June 27th in Greenville, South Carolina and you could find out each stop each day. The lunch stops generally start at noon and end at three.
The overnight promotions start at generally at 5 and ended 8, so to use as an example in your area. Cape Girardeau on Tuesday, June 22nd at 5:00 O'clock, right downtown on Main Street in Cape. Girardeau.
The streets are closed and the great race will start. There'll be a 15 minute pre race show just like any other race.
Just like a NASCAR event, we have national anthem and the Color Guard and the mayor will speak and sometimes the governors come and senators come and it's then the car start coming. We have an announcer.
And every minute’s a new car. So, it's like going to the circus and seeing the animals. It's just the cars, the animals and each car will stay in place until 8:00 PM and then they'll head to their hotel, so you know for three to four hours. It's a big festival in these cities.
Depending on you know where we are, and you can get the entire schedule at greatrace.com.
Well, it sounds like a great.
Time, yeah, great time. Can't wait to be involved.
Yep, yeah, that's always really good.
Why I've had fun learning about the great race with you today, and that was thanks for spend some time.
Yeah, been great talking to you. Always.
That was great. Thank you very much, alright.
Thank you guys really enjoyed it.
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