- Written by webmin
(Editor’s Note: Our team following the Great Race has had internet connectivity issues on the road the last few days, but we just received this batch of updates from the weekend.)
Friday – pre-race day
Sixty cars began the Hemmings 2011 Great Race from the headquarters of Coker Tire in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Friday’s pre-race activities included the Hagerty Trophy Rally, which drivers and navigators used as a tune-up for the Great Race starting on Saturday. Hagerty Insurance awarded their trophies and cash prizes at an awards dinner on Friday night in the museum at Coker Tire. The Hemmings team of Jim Menneto and Mari Parizo won the top prize in the Sportsman division (and second best score overall) with an Ace and a total time of eight seconds off perfect. The weather was a balmy 95 degrees and will hopefully get cooler as the race approaches the finish line in Bennington, Vermont, this coming Friday.
Saturday – Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Maggie Valley, North Carolina
After the ceremonial start of the Great Race, teams settled into the actual competition on Saturday. Exiting Coker Tire headquarters in one-minute intervals, the racers wound their way through Tennessee via scenic secondary roads to a lunch stop in Athens, Tennessee. After cooling off and receiving some down-home hospitality and lunch from the city, the racers got a dousing en route to the finish line for the evening at the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum. Curator Dale Walksler greeted each team with an American flag, and participants were also given a tour of the museum and dinner. Many motorcyclists visiting the museum received a great bonus of 60 vintage cars on the lawn in addition to the hundreds of motorcycles inside. Best scores of the day were turned in by a 1932 Ford highboy driven by expert Jody Knowles and navigator Beth Gentry with two Aces, two two-second legs and a three-second. Total score for the day was seven seconds, but with allotment for the age of the car, their score for the day was 5.67 seconds. The team bested even the Grand Champion racers, which is extremely difficult to do. The Hemmings team was soaked, but managed a 22nd place finish overall with a total of 34 seconds off perfect time. The score after year of vehicle factor was 27.54, good for seventh in the Sportsman class. Five cars had issues during the day, but most are expected to be fixed and back at it on Sunday. Tomorrow will include some traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway as the race winds north towards Salem, Virginia.
Sunday – Asheville, North Carolina, to Salem, Virginia
Cooler weather and lots of hills were the order of the day as teams rallied to Galax, Virginia, for today’s lunch stop, then on to Salem, Virginia, for the evening stop. Again, some breakdowns occurred, but the competition was still fierce. The team of Knowles and Gentry continued to lead the field, turning in a 10-second day; however, the Grand Champion team of husband and wife Irene and Barry Jason are only three seconds behind. Team Hemmings had a very respectable 30-second day, good for 17th overall and third best in the Sportsman class. Monday, the rally continues through Virginia with a lunch stop in Harrisonburg.
Monday – Salem, Virginia, to Cumberland, Maryland
Great sights to see today for those following the race, but the rally racers aren’t seeing much of it. The driver is watching the road, gauges and the speedometer and the navigators are looking at the instruction sheet, keeping track of their time and trying to calculate how far off perfect time they are. Small corrections in speed can be made to gain or lose seconds that could hurt their overall score. In rally racing, being too early is just as bad as being late. The Knowles/Gentry team in their 1932 Ford continue to lead, but strong showings by Expert division teams of Howard and Doug Sharp and Jeff Stumb and Guy McDorr are applying the heat now for overall leader. Both are now less than eight seconds back. Team Hemmings had a few snafus, which left them with a 60-second day, but are still in the running, with several of their worst legs of the week being thrown out before final scores are announced at the finish line this Friday in Bennington. Tuesday heads to Chambersburg, Maryland, for lunch and finishes up at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Tuesday night. New photos and full results, including cumulative totals for each team are listed at www.greatrace.com.
Also, check out the Hemmings Facebook page for more up-to-the-minute updates and photos from this year’s Great Race and to share your own photos. One reader even was lucky enough to have the Great Race cars pass his driveway!