I shot The Great Race in 2007 and had a photo gallery on a previous website. Since then, hundreds of people – OK, one or two people – have asked about that photo gallery so I decided to put it up again.
The Great Race, started in 1983, is an annual cross-country race where entries can be antique cars, vintage cars (currently pre-1972), muscle cars, or hot rods. The route changes each year.
In 2007, the 4,000 mile, 14-day endurance race started in Concord, NC and the finish line was in Anaheim, CA. Each day, there was a predetermined lunch stop and an overnight stop where locals could admire the cars, talk to the drivers, and take photos.
I’ve shot The Great Race a few times around the country but the 2007 race that made a lunch stop, appropriately, at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville was set up to give the best photo ops.
It's amazing that cars made as early as 1910 still run and it's more amazing that they can compete in a 4,000 mile race when many of the cars are open to the elements and even the enclosed cars have no air conditioner. Seventy-two cars started the 2007 race but only 57 endured torrential downpours, hail, desert heat, and steep mountain climbs to finish the race.
If you want to compete in The Great Race, there are regional rallies and qualifying races for eligibility, and there are many rules. An entry fee of $5,500 per car includes registration for one driver, one navigator, and two support crew members and each entry is allowed one support vehicle. Additional support crew members can be added for a fee of $250 each.
Each competing car is allowed to carry pens, pencils, scratch pads, race information supplied by The Great Race, one analog time-of-day watch or clock, one analog wristwatch each for the driver and navigator, one stopwatch, an AM-FM radio, one analog tire pressure gauge, one analog compass, one analog altimeter, one analog thermometer, one non-radio intercom system allowing communication only between driver and navigator which requires a wired or tube connection to function; i.e., helmets with microphones and earphones, and one cellphone for emergency use only.
Items that can't be carried in the competing car are clocks or wristwatches with stopwatch functions, digital speedometers, maps, charts, tables, pace notes, course materials from prior Great Race Events, any calculating device, timing device, measuring device, recording devices, telescopes, binoculars, cameras with telephoto lenses, and similar optical devices, any GPS, any laptop, tablet, iPad, etc., and any other electronic device which has a digital clock or digital display.
Sounds like the bottom line is...if grandpa didn't have it, you can't have it.
There seems to be a real camaraderie among race participants that are connected by real families and race families. Most of the participants in The Great Race are retired grandfatherly types but women and children also participate as navigators or crew. The 2007 winner of The Great Race was a 1928 Ford Model A Boattail Speedster and the $25,000 cash prize went to 15-year old Charlie Wheeler and his uncle Bob LaBine. I'm sure the 15-year old will always remember when he and his uncle rode 4,000 miles in an almost 80 year-old car and won the big prize.