The Great Race Day 5: Getting Stronger Everyday

Rainy MorningToday’s stretch took us from from Davenport, IA, through Peoria, IL, and on into Hannibal, MO, hometown of Mark Twain. Today also featured more rain once again, with a soggy morning to get us going. Because of the rain, a number of timed segments in the morning were canceled. One of them still remained, and in the afternoon, we had three more checkpoints.

In the end, we had some similar ups and downs to the day before. We had three great sectors, but our third one was rather poor. The good news is that we know what went wrong with our third one. Because of some changes in the route and us gettinFinish in Hannibalg to our lunch stop earlier than normal, we underestimated how long it would take to get to our next leg. This resulted in us getting started at a bad time and throwing off our time. Otherwise, we had some very solid times. In fact, our first segment we actually managed to ace! An ace being a leg where your time is off by less than half a second. Unfortunately, it was the same sector that we submitted a time discrepancy for, as we got slowed down by a train at a railroad crossing. We didn’t think we had made up the time. But we’ve decided that we’re just going to get our first ace when we know we’re on track.

StandingsWe did still receive some good news even after losing our ace though. When we arrived at our hotel in the evening, we found that we are currently first place in the X-Cup class!

We also came away with a unique souvenir at our dinner stop in Hannibal. Before dinner, we met a man by the name of Lynn Herzberger at the stop. He spent some time talking with us and he seemed to really like the car. Then, after dinner, we came back and he met up with us again, and gave us a drawing he had been working on while we were gone. It was a really neat drawing and he let us take it with us. He also left his email address on the back of the drawing, so in case you’re interested in some of his work, you can reach him at visualsz@yahoo.com. I feel like this is also a good time to mention that everywhere we’ve gone with this ’57 Ford Fairlane, it’s received so many compliments from people that remember having one in the family, to people that just like the way it looks.

TDrawingomorrow we start again. The next part of the trip will take us to our night stop in Cape Girardeau, MO. And now that we know we’re first place in our class, we’re going to do our best to keep it that way.

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The Great Race Day 4: Ups and Downs

Our fourth full day, and our second timed day, was a rather unusual one. It started off relatively normally. Like any other day, we started early in the morning with some breakfast, and joined the other drivers at the hotel to receive our instructions. But we were informed that they would start giving out directions a little more quickly than normal to get people on the road sooner. This was because of construction as well as a road getting washed out from the copious amounts of rain the region has been getting the past few days.

Pair of FairlanesAs it turned out, getting a little bit ahead of things wasn’t enough to overcome the problems from weather and road work. Around the time we got to Marquette, we were informed at a Great Race checkpoint that the morning timing section had been canceled. This wasn’t much of a bother though, and the afternoon session went on according to plan.

The organizers weren’t the only ones who were having trouble in the morning though. A team with another ’57 Fairlane, this one a tribute to Fireball Roberts’ NASCAR, was stuck on the side of the road with electrical problems. We spotted them and pulled off to give them a hand. We weren’t able to get them back on the road in the morning unfortunately, as at the time, we di102_6048dn’t know that the morning session had been canceled. However after reaching the finish line and returning to the hotel, we were able to help get their Fairlane back up and running.

We also had our own bout of trouble. Our afternoon timed run was a mixed bag of great, and disappointing. In our first sector, we were dealing with some race traffic that threw off our speeds and times. The result of which was a somewhat time that was 47 seconds late. Our next two sections turned out to be superb, with one of them only one second off. Unfortunately, our final timed sector went pretty poorly. While it started off well, a missed instruction threw us far off pace at around 15 minutes late. I will confess that I was theWorld's Largest Six Pack navigator that missed the instruction. However, the maximum penalty for any late time in a sector is only two minutes, so while our total time today was disappointing, it isn’t as bad as it could be. Plus, we feel that we’ve improved some of our techniques and timing, as our two normal sectors indicated, so we think tomorrow will go much better.

On a lighter note, we did manage to see some interesting things while we were out and about today. We saw the world’s largest six pack soon after the start of our trip in La Crosse, WI. This sLoneliest Vending Machineix pack is at the City Brewery, and according to the sign, the of the giant tanks is enough to fill over 7.3 million cans of beer, and would provide a six pack a day to one person for over three thousand years. In addition to a giant six pack, we also found possibly the loneliest vending machine in America. As we reached a stop sign, directly in front of us was an empty gravel lot with a light post and a Pepsi vending machine chained to the post. And we also got our gas tank topped off for free at the World’s Largest Truck Stop. Though we were running behind so we didn’t get to see much of the stop.

Gas at the Truck StopTomorrow should be filled with more adventure and hopefully improved times. And you can be sure to get the latest from here and from our Facebook page.


The Great Race Day 3: The Official Start

Today was the first official leg of the Great Race. This stretch ran from our starting point in St. Paul, MN, and took us down to La Crosse, WI. The day started off once again at the Minnesota State FairgroundGrand Starting Lines. We began the day lined up on the banks of the racetrack at the stadium. All 99 cars were lined up and on display. When the time came, all of the cars processed out onto the streets of the fairgrounds. This led into the grand starting point at the main entrance of the fairgrounds. From here, the race received the full array of major automotive events. Flags, a massive inflatable arch, a great rendition of the national anthem, and people deeply involved in the classic car hobby and industry, such as Corky Coker and Wayne Carini, to help start things off.

Driving and Navigating

Photo Credit: Tony DiValentin

For our actual driving today, Brian and I took the first half. This was our first time driving and navigating and it went pretty well overall. Tony and Nik took over for the second half. Our route took us through some gorgeous back country roads, mostly through Wisconsin. They were some tight and twisty roads too, which made for some tricky driving and navigating. If you do happen to be in the area with a car that handles well, and you’re in the western Wisconsin area, you’ll need to check out some of these roads. At the end of the day, we improved our score from around one minute and 20 seconds off to just under one minute. Plus, we still haven’t gotten lost, and the Fairlane has been running well. To borrow a word I heard Nik use today, our run was pretty “gnarlical” (like gnarly plus radical).

DuskTomorrow we’ll start the next leg that will take us from La Crosse, WI to Davenport, IA. We’re hoping to improve our time again, and to continue our good spirits. And you can be sure to see more pictures and updates on our facebook page as we progress.

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The Great Race Day 2: Rally School and the Hagerty Trophy Run

Back to the 50s    Today, our second full day, we got our first taste of what the competition will be like. The day started off at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds where the Minnesota Street Rod Association is hosting their Back to the 50s event. It’s a massive meeting of classic cars, mostly modified American classics, and it brought in around 12,000 cars this year.

That morning we went through a two-hour rally school to learn how the race works, and to pick up a few tips. This was important because the afternoon was going to consist of the Hagerty Trophy Run. This run would be our first timed event, and though it doesn’t actually count in the overall competition, in the event of a tie, this would be a tiebreaker. Once the class was completed we figured out our start time, and then we broke to get lunch and to get a quick look at the thousands of other cars on the grounds.

Getting Gas    We regrouped around 12:30pm to get a few final preparations in before our start time of 12:58pm. This involved some review of directions, as well as getting our stopwatch synchronized to official clock. Then we set off.

The very first section of this leg, and each leg, was a speedometer calibration run. This is important because if the speedometer is off, we could end up coming through a section too quickly or too slowly. Following that was a stop to get gas, make adjustments, and use restrooms. Then came the timed section.

Directions    The overall goal of the rally is to reach a predetermined time for the course. To get as close as possible to this, we have to follow directions that tell us where to go, and what speeds we have to drive. When turns, stops, and assigned speed changes come up is where a bit of math and timing come in. And without any knowledge of where the checkpoints are, the only way we can get close is by following our directions and keeping consistent speeds.

Tony    Today, Tony DiValentin was our driver, and Nik Montagna was our primary navigator. Brian Martin and myself were in the backseat. As first timers, we did quite well. The first three sectors we came in pretty close with a best of one second off, and the second worst of 12 seconds. The fourth sector was unfortunately off by a minute, but for our first ever run, we did well. We didn’t quite do well enough to win, but we do congratulate the X-Cup winners.

Nik   The night closed out with a pretty remarkable downpour. If there was a textbook definition of “sheets of rain,” we experienced it firsthand. It was bad enough that we couldn’t see where we were going. So we waited out the worst of it at the fairgrounds. We eventually got back to the hotel safely.

So, with some experience under our belts, we’re feeling more prepared and ready for the rest of the event, and we’re looking forward to it.

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The Great Race Day 1: Meeting and Greeting

Tech Inspection LineFor our first full day of the Great Race, things started off reasonably laid back. We started off with a short breakfast and then it was on to the line for tech inspection. This part of the day ended up being an impromptu meet and greet as much as it was a tech inspection. With the many sponsor stickers to be applied to each of the 99 cars in attendance, the line was moving a little slow. As a result, there were great opportunities to get a good look at everyone’s cars and learn about them from their owners.

Sticker ApplicationAnd there are many vehicles to see this year. The Great Race is an event for vehicles from 1969 and earlier, and there are vehicles representing just about every decade and segment imaginable. Everything from Packards, Cadillacs, and a Rolls-Royce to Fords and Chevys. There are even a couple more unusual entries like a Fiat Multipla and a SAAB 96.

Tuning and Tweaking

Once our 1957 Ford Fairlane finally received its many stickers we headed out for some lunch and to begin preparations for upcoming events. Some carb and timing tweaks there, a stopwatch and speedometer calibrating there. Overall, we got the car running nicely and currently trouble free.

We rounded out the day with the official meet and greet as well as a seminar on motor oil from a representative at Champion. Overall quite a good day, and the next day was sure to bring more excitement.