Five West Michigan teenagers, including recent grads from Otsego, Delton, and Comstock, have embarked on an ‘Old School’ road trip— 2,400 miles over 9 days in a 1935 Packard. Serving as navigators for three adult drivers the teens will interpret written daily driving instructions without the use of GPS, cell phones or maps of any kind.
They will be taking part in the esteemed Great Race, the highly competitive cross-country road rally made up of only vintage automobiles. This year’s field includes 148 teams from as far away as Australia and Japan running autos dating from 1916 – 1972. Teams are in hopes of landing a portion the $156,000 prize money while the seven high school teams from across the nation are going for scholarship funds.
The five qualifying teens are part of the Gilmore Car Museum’s high school Garage Works program and make up the only such youth team running the race from the Midwest.
Unlike the name Great Race implies, it’s not about high-speed racing but an endurance rally where following precise instructions given just 30 minutes prior to their departure and arriving on time each day are key.
Each of the 148 teams are made up of a driver and navigator and they are solely responsible for any repairs needed during each day’s leg of the race. Should the official trouble truck arrive before the car is back on the road they will be hauled to the next stop and their support crews can assist them. The high school team members and drivers will pair up on different days throughout the race.
The event begins Saturday in Jacksonville, FL and travels 2,400 miles of back roads—much of it along the historic Dixie Highway—before crossing the finish line in Traverse City, MI on July 2.
The five West Michigan teenagers, three adult drivers (race rules require drivers be 21 or older) and their 1935 Packard have arrived in Jacksonville Florida where the car must first pass safety and technical inspections. On Friday June 23, all teams will run an abbreviated shake down run followed by the race start on Saturday at 10am from Main Street Jacksonville, Fl.
As the Great Race enters Michigan their very first public stop will be at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI onThursday June 29. Following a short welcoming ceremony, the vintage racers will begin to arrive at about 12:15pm spaced about a minute apart, each spending about 2 hours getting lunch and exploring the museum.
To celebrate the hometown team and welcome all the races on Thursday June 29th the Gilmore Car Museum will open its doors to the public for FREE. No admission or parking fees will be charge—the very first time in 51 years the museum has done so—and those arriving in collector cars before 11:30am are invited to park inside the inner grounds near the racers.
The Gilmore Car Museum is a public, 501(c)3 non-profit institution, dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American automobile. Education is at the core of our mission and we rely solely on the financial donations to maintain our on-going educational endeavors such as Garage Works, free K-12 school field trips, community outreach, as well as entering an X-Cup team into the Great Race. To learn more about the local team and the race visit please visit GilmoreCarMuseum.org.