I recently had the wonderful experience of attending the parade of vehicles, as they passed through the finish line arch of the Great Race 2021. According to their website, The Great Race started in 1983 by Tom McRae and Norman Miller. McRae founded the race on the basis of honoring families, our great country, and most importantly God, for making all things possible. McRae believed it was extremely important to say a prayer in public, in every city, to bless the participants and everyone involved. Praising the LORD was a staple in his operation, and was his unique way of spreading the Gospel. McCrae is no longer with us, but his traditions continue.
An event of this size requires several corporate sponsors, with many of them having their logo on the inflatable arch that is set up in each city where the participants overnight. In addition, there is an 18-wheeler support vehicle, sponsored by Hagerty, that can be seen along the race route. Hagerty is an insurance company specifically developed for older, classic cars. Hence, the phrase and graphic design painted on the side of its trailer that says, "Three pedals, no problem." This is a reference to the fact that some of the cars they insure, were manufactured before the advent of automatic transmissions---which did away with the need for a clutch pedal. As a side note, I want to commend Hagerty operations because recently I was with a friend who used their insurance, when she had an issue with her vintage Chevrolet. She was a Hagerty client, and they seemed to handle the situation as well as could be expected.
Since The Great Race is a precision PACE RACE, not a high speed race, the "winner" of a particular segment of the race is determined before the car passes under the arch. Hence, there is no crowding of vehicles to cross the "finish line" arch, and instead serves as a backdrop for photo opportunities, as the announcer tells the name and details of each car as it goes under the arch.
The Great Race is no ordinary race. It has instruction pamphlets for each day that over 20 pages long! Modern navigational aids like GPS are prohibited in this event. Points are awarded on the accuracy of the driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a pre-determined course. Prizes are awarded in several categories, both daily, and at the end of the race.
Some of the cars are reminiscent of movies---such as the Blues Brothers. It was amusing to see the variety of very inappropriate items, that the car had as "props" on their dashboard. In addition, they had a mannequin passenger in their back seat!
I felt victorious just getting to watch the cars come through, and felt compelled to give the iconic "V for Victory" uplifted arms gesture! This might have been the gesture the 2021 Great Race winners were giving at the end of the race in Greenville, South Carolina, because their win was historic---the first time for two women to win the race---one was the driver and one was the navigator.
This converted school bus carried the support crew for the WTF driving team. This group is quick to point out that the initials do not stand for any type of vulgar cliche, but rather refer to their full name---The Wondering Troubadours of Finland. When the vintage vehicle they support drives under the arch, they march alongside, carrying the blue and white flag of Finland.
When I asked to take their photo, they said they would only agree to it, if I would also be in the photo! (Can you tell which one is me??!!) If you want to see more photos of their hilarious stunts and old-fashioned attire (as well as the inside of their bus), go to their Facebook page, entitled simply "WTF Great Race".
As you can see on the top of the arch, the 2021 Great Race started in San Antonio, Texas, and ended in Greenville, SC. You can see videos of the entry into each city where they spent the night, if you go to their Facebook page, The Great Race.
The Great Race attracted almost 150 different vehicle entries, and each one had an assigned parking space along the Main Street of Joplin the evening of their appearance. Many of the cars had magnetic signs attached to them, reminding cars following them not to get too close, because of the (sometimes) sudden turns and stops they made, as they tried to follow the rally driving directions.
The map on this car shows the route of the 2021 Great Race, starting in Texas, and ending in South Carolina. One can visit the Great Race website to find out the route of future races. This was actually my second time to see the vintage cars, as I was able to go to the event in 2015, when it passed through Springfield, Missouri, which is also an iconic stop along Route 66.
The logo on this souvenir bag shows some of the nicknames that Route 66 has enjoyed over the years, such as "The Mother Road" and "America's Main Street". However, the name my mother always called it when I was growing up, was "Bloody 66". She was quite prone to worry, and would start expressing her concerns out loud whenever it became known that my father would be traveling on that road for business meetings in St. Louis, from our home in Arkansas. Likewise, when our family traveled Route 66 from Arkansas to California, in the 1950's, the phrase came up often. It was not until I googled "Bloody 66", that I found out there were more people than just my mother, who were apprehensive about traveling the route. The Google search gave numerous references to photographs, statistics, and books about the many car crashes that occurred on the busy and often-narrow highway.
I would agree with the Great Race founder, Mr. McCrae, about the need for prayer (as well as a good map) when embarking on a journey of Route 66! In a nod to the Route 66 popularity, and "66" being the number of books in the Bible, a variety of Bible studies have been developed with the Route 66 logo. The one I have purchased in the past is the Route 66 Bible--"Driving the Word Home", published by the Turning Point Ministry organization. You can find it at www.DavidJeremiah.org
This mural in this photo even has half of a Corvette, to give it a 3D effect! Likewise, it has a complete map of Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica. I always like to comment that the back yard of one of my California cousins, butts up against the original, historic Route 66!