Cannonsburgh Village will host a lunch stop on the 2017 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Monday, June 26, race organizers have announced. The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town for the $150,000 event, with the first car rolling onto Cannonsburgh Village downtown starting at noon. The Stones River Region of AACA is hosting the event. In all, the participants in the race will cover more than 2,100 miles in 9 days. The start will be on Main Street in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on June 24. The race will finish July 2 in Traverse City, Mich., on the banks of Grand Traverse Bay just off Lake Michigan as part of that city’s annual Cherry Festival. Teams and cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and every corner of the United States will be participating in their vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1916.
“There are more than 450 people just in our entourage from all around the world taking part in this incredible adventure,” director Jeff Stumb said. Along the route, competitors will travel parts of the original Dixie Highway in seven states – Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The Great Race, which began 34 years ago, is not a speed race, but a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins. Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge other than staying on time and following the instructions is getting an old car to the finish line each day, organizers say. Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public and spectators will be able to visit with the participants and to look at the cars for several hours. It is common for kids to climb in the cars for a first-hand look.
Cars built in 1972 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2016 Great Race from California to Illinois a 1916 Hudson Indy Racer won the event when it crossed the Mississippi River into downtown Moline. That vehicle was driven by G.R. Pike of Searcy, Ark., and navigated by Bobby Hadskey of Germantown, Tenn. They won $50,000 for finishing first overall. A 1916 Hudson Hillclimber, a 1916 Hudson Four Passenger Speedster, a 1916 Chevrolet Phaeton, a 1917 Peerless Racer and a chain-driven 1918 American LaFrance Speedster are the oldest cars scheduled to be in the 2017 Great Race. The 2017 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.
Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities big and small, from tiny Austin, Nev., to New York City. “When the Great Race pulls into a city it becomes an instant festival,” Stumb said. “Last year we had five overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”