The Great Race – 2020Follow
Dates: 06/20/2020 ‐ 06/28/2020
2020 Route: https://www.greatrace.com/route
The 2020 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Drivers Club is sold out.
The History of The Great Race
Great events don’t happen by accident and they certainly don’t happen in the blink of an eye. It takes a lot of work to develop, organize and run an intricate event such as The Great Race, and it took a lot of work behind the scenes to get it off the ground, when Tom McRae and Norman Miller did just that in 1983. The two individuals were partners in the deal, and bought out an ailing race promoter who planned to race pre-World War II automobiles across the United States for a massive purse. There were plenty of folks who doubted the feasibility of an event of this magnitude, but with help from a crew of like-minded car nuts, McRae and Miller made it work. From the inaugural event in ’83, there have been lots of memorable moments.
McRae and Graf signed up for the long-distance journey, but as it turns out, they were the only entrants. So, McRae contacted his old friend Norman “Bubba” Miller and pulled him into a partnership to buy out the original promoter. From there, it would be a long battle to stage the first event and market it well. The result involved 69 brave antique auto enthusiasts who arrived at Knott’s Berry Farm, near Los Angeles, California for the departure and beginning of the inaugural Great Race. At that time, participants paid a $5,000 entry fee, which put them in the hunt for the $250,000 purse.
The racers traveled East toward a final destination of Indianapolis, Indiana, during what can only be called “500 Week”. Hundreds of thousands of race fans swarm the Indianapolis area, which made the idea of driving these ancient machines into the heart of Indy a little unnerving, but McRae received help from Indy’s 32-officer National Champion Motorcycle Drill Team. The Drill Team shutdown rush hour traffic to escort the 62 finishing racers into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a well-deserved victory lap, then into downtown Indianapolis, and to the host hotel. The next day, 16 racers were able to participate in the Indy Festival Parade, and the winner of the inaugural Great Race was treated to a special trip around the famous “Brickyard” in the passenger seat of the Indy 500 Pace Car, just moments before the start of the race.
With a successful first event under their belt, McRae and the Great Race crew began preparation for the 1984 event, which would be another California-to-Indiana trip. And as the years went by, McRae made sure to provide interesting routes for the participants, and made it family-oriented so that participants could enjoy time with their children or even grandchildren in many cases. In fact, the 1987 route went from Disneyland in Anaheim, California to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, so there was no shortage of Mickey Mouse ears on that trip. Generally, the routes traveled west to east, but sometimes McRae switched it up and went east to west, like the 1991 event, from Norfolk, Virginia to Seattle, Washington. McRae and crew also went north to south in 1995, traveling from Ottawa, Canada to Mexico City, Mexico!
No matter the route, Great Race participants viewed the most amazing scenery this country has to offer,
and toured some of the coolest back roads to get there. These pre-World War II cars aren’t exactly cut out for interstate driving, so the intricate routes were designed to suit antique cars and their capabilities, in terms of speed, and durability. Many racers have beaten the odds and walked away with a victory, but all of the participants have the enjoyment of viewing our great country alongside a close friend or family member. here are many family teams involved in the Great Race, including many husband and wife duos. And by the time you’ve made the trek across the United States of America, you’re bound to have made a few new friends along the way.
There’s no question that the camaraderie among Great Race participants is the most incredible aspect of the event. No matter your background, culture or chosen race vehicle, the playing field is totally equal when you consider the reason all these racers come together. It’s all about spending time with like-minded folks, and getting to know one another in a grand journey across our United States. Ordinary car guys are treated as celebrities and heroes, signing autographs and answering countless questions from people who greatly admire their efforts in this wonderful race.
Under the leadership of Corky Coker, the new and improved Great Race was ready to start a new chapter with the 2011 event, which traveled from Coker Tire Company’s headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee to the Hemmings Motor News headquarters in Bennington, Vermont. Over 1,700 miles of driving took participants of The Great Race through the Appalachian Mountains, up through the Shenandoah Valley and into the beautiful Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont. One year into new leadership, the Great Race revival continued with a 2012 event venturing around the Great Lakes. Teams assembled in Traverse City, MI for the start of a 9-day 2,400 mile adventure that took them north in Canada. Traveling clockwise around the Great Lakes, the course wound its way through the Algonquin Provincial Park and down into New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio before finishing in Dearborn, MI at the Henry Ford Museum. 2012 threw a twist into the typical Great Race formula and provided racers a welcome change of scenery as well as refreshing summertime rallying weather conditions. A few things have changed, in terms of the rules, and how the event is run, but it’s still a classic car event with the same basic idea from years past. You’ll enjoy plenty of time behind the wheel of your classic car, and embrace the challenge of meeting specific timelines to try for a perfect score! Sometimes it’s tricky to get the timing just right, but one thing is for certain—you’ll have a great time, and meet up with many like-minded car nuts on your journey.