Epic pre-’72 classic rally takes participants 2300 miles through northeastern America and Canada; 1933 Ford truck owners pick up the ultimate prize for 2018
The 35th Great Race – the annual time/speed/distance endurance rally in which participants drive their classic cars more than 2300 miles across America and Canada – saw this year’s 1933 Ford truck-driving winners take home $50,000-plus in prize money.
Father-and-son partners Jeff and Eric Fredette were the overall victors in the nine-day event (June 23-July 1), which took competitors and their pre-1972 cars from Buffalo, New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The driver and navigator, from Beecher, Illinois, did the full distance in their flathead V8-powered pick-up.
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The Great Race, which first took place in 1983, is named after the 1965 movie of the same name that starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. In turn, the comedy caper was based on the real-life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris.
This year’s running followed a specific route through 18 hosted city stops in the northeastern United States as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. The idea of the event is to match director of competition John Classen’s pre-determined time by following specific, and sometimes cryptic, instructions.
It also incorporates designated speed changes – a specially calibrated speedometer helps here – and challenging turns. All this comes on top of the not-inconsiderable feat of keeping a vintage car going over the full distance. A different route each year adds to the challenge, and the majority of the scored competition takes place on back roads. The team that is closest to the pre-determined ‘perfect time’ wins.
Great Race director Jeff Stumb said: ‘We are very proud of this year’s competitors. Despite trying weather conditions, they never let up and continued to turn in excellent scores. The Fredettes have been a part of the Great Race family for many years, and it was an emotional moment at the finish line when they were announced as the winners. It was a long time coming for this father-and-son team, who had finished second on a few occasions, leading up to this milestone.’
As well as being overall victors, the Fredettes won the Expert Division. Further class winners included Jody Knowles and Beth Gentry in their 1932 Ford Cabriolet (Grand Champion Division); Keith Wallace, Rick McIntosh and Brent Powley in their 1930 Ford Model A Speedster (Sportsman Division); Kari Schives and Kaitlyn Stahl in their 1965 Ford Mustang (Rookie Division); and Tom Littrell, Nathaniel Donley and Jed Diamond in their 1959 Plymouth Belvedere (X-Cup Division).
Best of Show Race Car and Classic Car went to John Barrett and Danny Thompson’s 1953 Hudson Hornet, and Ron VanderMarel and Sheldon Rier’s 1937 Studebaker Coupe, respectively. Lokar’s Pick of the Show was Marybeth and Tag Lewis’ 1940 Cadillac Convertible.
In a first for the event, next year’s Great Race will take place entirely along the western seaboard of the US. It will start on Saturday, June 22, 2019 in Riverside, California, and conclude in Tacoma, Washington on Sunday, June 30. It will stop in 18 cities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
The event is sponsored by Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty, Coker Tire – whose CEO Corky Coker assumed leadership of the run in 2011 – and Reliable Carriers.
For more information, see The Great Race’s website here.