This year’s The Great Race winners were a sister team, Olivia Gentry (20) and Genna Gentry (180) who hail from Newman, Georgia. Winners of the 9-day 2,300-mile race across the country, in vintage vehicles. The race began in San Antonio, TX and ended in Greenville, South Carolina.
I may have reported on The Great Race before, but I was excited to learn that some young gals were the winners this year! And that they have an interested in cars; old ones at that! This year’s race was the fourth for the sisters, earning $50,000 for participating! Their ride? A 1932 Ford 5-Window coupe. Their Ford coupe is powered by an original-style 21-stud flathead V8 engine with 3-speed transmission.
Taking seventh place in 2019, the sisters were among 120 entries in this year’s time-distance rally. Allowed to use navigation or electronic devices, the race is made up of several stages, time and speed averages. Teams are allowed to use a map, stopwatches and ‘old-fashioned reckoning,’ according to the organizers. Olivia was the main driver, her sister Genna the navigator. Having a sharp navigator makes all the difference
Two enthusiasts, Tom McRae and Norman Miller created The Great Race in 1983. They bought out a race promotor who had plans to race pre-World War II vehicles across the U.S. The pair had many doubters. How would they pull off this feat?
After forming a crew of believers, McRae and Miller made it work. Ordinary guys, McRae became interested in the old car hobby when he received a call from enthusiast Curtis Graf with news of an event called the Great American Race from L.A. to Indy for a $250,000 prize!
What made this race different is that it was only open to pre-WW II vehicles. Even more of a challenge. After adding another friend to the mix, the enthusiasts staged the first event. It took a long time, perseverance and getting the word out for the team to make it happen.
They had 69 antique auto enthusiasts sign up and arrive at Knott’s Berry Farm near Los Angeles, CA. The group began in CA. and headed to Indianapolis, IN, arriving on “500 Week.” The entry fee was $5,000; the purse, $250,000!
The track was teaming with fans, and the antique autos received help from Indy’s 32-officer National Champion Motorcycle Drill Team, shutting down traffic and escorting the racersonto to Speedway where they were able to participate in the Indy Festival Parade. The winner was escorted around the Brickyard track as a passenger in the 500 Pace Car!
Since that exciting first Great Race, new participants and interesting routes have been added. In 1987, the route went through Disneyland in Anaheim, CA to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL. The routes have traditionally travelled west to east, but a couple of times McRae switched it up, as in 1991 when the race went east to west, and in 1995 from Ottawa, Canada to Mexico City, Mexico.
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