Jun 11, 2011

Great Race Groupie...

The oldest car in the 2011 Great Race is Car #22, the 100-year-old 1911 Velie.  It is Driven by Howard Sharp and navigated by his son Doug, both from Fairport, New York.
Anyone who knows me very well is aware that I have enjoyed participating in no fewer than 5 Great Races - Precision endurance rallies for vintage automobiles.  I have described them comprehensively on my Great Race Website.  After a hiatus of three years, the Great Race is alive again under the care and feeding of Corky Coker of the Coker Tire Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Last August, Monty Love and I were in Chattanooga and
stopped by Corky's place.  At that time he confided that he had acquired the rights to the Great Race and was hoping to re-launch it in much the tradition with which it was conducted for twenty years by the late Tom McRae.  Well, I'm pleased to say that it has happened.  Yesterday, Monty and I drove over to Chattanooga to see this year's participants arrive at the end of the Trophy Run (a warm-up rally prior to the actual competition).  This morning, we got to see the beginning of the Big Event.  The field of around sixty cars left for a 7-day rally that will take them to Maggie Valley, NC; Salem, VA; Cumberland, MD; Hershey, PA; Binghamton, NY; Saratoga Springs, NY; and finally, Bennington, VT.  Bennington is the home of Hemmings Motor News, the primary sponsor of this year's rally.  I have included a few pictures.

This year's "pace car" will be Corky Coker's recently-completed replica of the 1911 Marmon Wasp, the car that Ray Harroun drove to victory in the inaugural Indy 500.  This replica is remarkably accurate, based on a vintage chassis and powered by a massive T-Head 6-cylinder engine.
Great Race founder, the late Tom McRae, always centered the event around three values - family, God, and  country.  Corky Coker will continue that great tradition.  Here, the Soddy-Daisy High School ROTC color guard presents the colors.  Miss Tennessee 2009 & 2nd runner-up Miss America 2010, Stephanie Wittler sang the national anthem.
Team #44, Jonathan and Jake Auerbach, a father-son team, are driving this 1951 Chrysler New Yorker.  They bought the car on eBay and did some serious rally modifications, including a roll cage!  It's powered by its original massive 331 Hemi engine.
The "Dixie Racing" team drives one of many Model A Ford speedsters in the competition.  The driver, Bryan Dickson, is from Argyle, TX, while the navigator, Joe Correia, is from Virginia Beach, VA.
This 1928 Chrysler 72 roadster is a veteran of many Great Races.  Its driver, Richard Howe, is a good friend of mine.  (We had to bond since we were usually the only two Chrysler products in the competition!)  He is accompanied by his navigator-grandson, Jason Fisher.  Both hail from Conway, AR.
Certainly one of the most handsome cars in this year's rally is this 1936 Packard Model 120B driven by Bill Croker of Penn Valley, CA.  His wife Carolyn navigates.  Both are veteran Great Racers.
This 1929 Model A Ford pickup is the flagship of the "Two Ruts" team.  Corky and Tim Rutledge, the driver and navigator are from Pennsylvania and are another father-son team.
A giant among competitors is this massive 1961 Imperial Crown convertible.  The driver, John Corey, is from Melrose, NY.  The navigator, David Ullman, at one time lived in my home town of Schenectady, but now lives in Corvallis, OR.  They should certainly have a comfortable ride in this land ark!
A veteran of many Great Races, this 1928 Model A Ford sedan delivery is driven by Leonard Harpenau of El Cajon, CA.  His navigator is Tom Kucera from Omaha, NE.  Both have participated in many Great Races.
Our good friend Jeff Stumb, from Hampton Cove, AL, is driving his 1916 Hudson Hill Climber.  His navigator is  Guy McDorr of Bath, ME.
This beautiful Model A Ford speedster, known as the "Yellow Peril," is crewed by two rookies.  The driver, Chuck Culver, is from Lumberton. NJ, while the navigator, Jeffrey Schulte, is from Mt.Laurel, NJ.  Enjoy the ride!

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1 comment:

Carlo Grassini said...

Hello Bob,
Great blog postings. Carl Grassini Lou's brother.
Lou sent me your link today. I have been enjoying your blog site for the past 2 hours. Great stories and a lot of cool pictures. Loved the Seawolf story and your early drone experiments with the Hugh Purvis.

my email address is: cart2gonow@nyc.rr.com