The Great Race rolls into town this weekend
June 28, 2017
SAULT STE. MARIE — On June 24 the 2017 Hemmings Motor News Great Race departed Jacksonville, Florida. It will be Canada Day, Saturday, July 1, as the Great Race pulls into downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Sault was the first overnight host on the 2012 Great Race and in 2017 they will be the host on the last overnight stop on the event.
The Great Race is an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways. It is not a test of top speed, but a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s (and team’s) ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.
Each day the driver and navigator team receives a set of course instructions that indicate every turn, speed change, stop, and start that the team must make throughout the day (usually 220 to 250 such instructions per day). Along the course route there will be from 4 to 7 checkpoints recording the exact time that the team passes that point. The objective is to arrive at each checkpoint at the correct time, not the fastest. The score for each team is the result of the team’s ability to follow the designated course instructions precisely. Every second off the perfect time (early or late) at each checkpoint is a penalty point. This format is much more mentally demanding than a flat-out cross-country race. Also, GPS or computers are not permitted and odometers are taped over. This is a test of human mental agility and endurance as well as classic car endurance, rather than programming capability. The course avoids timed segments on interstate highways, opting instead for scenic local, county, and state highways whenever possible through some of the prettiest country in the United States.
Any car up through model year 1972 is eligible to enter, so if you are an automotive enthusiast, downtown Sault Ste. Marie will be the place for you on Saturday as the racers roll into town. Cars are expected to begin arriving around 5 p.m. They will depart for the finish line, Traverse City, the morning of July 2.