The Great race
Hollis Ford hosting 2018 Great Race
By Maurice Rees

Hollis Ford and the Town of Truro are the local sponsors hosting a lunch stop on the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty on Saturday, June 30. If you are an “old car” enthusiast, make plans to arrive early and find a spot in the Prince Street areas of the Truro-East Hants Public Library, and Truro Farmers Market on Saturday, June 30th.

The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will bring up to 275 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town for the $150,000 event, with the first car rolling into Prince Street in front of the Truro Farmers Market starting at noon. In all, the participants in the event will cover more than 3,700 kilometers in 9 days. The start was at the Pierce Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., on June 23. The race will finish July 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the banks of Halifax Harbour as part of the city’s Canada Day celebration.

Teams and cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and every corner of the United States will be participating in their vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1913. Rick Hollis, Hollis Ford says, “There are more than 500 people in the entourage from all around the world taking part in this incredible adventure”. He added, “At Hollis Ford our entire team is always thinking what can we do to bring more people to Truro for a community event. We are pleased to sponsor the 2018 Great Race lunchtime stop in Truro to bring 275 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to Truro”.

Along the 3,700 kilometer route, competitors will travel through four states – New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine – and two Canadian provinces – New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Great Race, which began 35 years ago, is not a speed race, but a time/speed/distance rally.

The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins. Hollis said, “Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge other than staying on time and following the instructions is getting an old car to the finish line each day”

Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public and spectators will be able to visit with the participants and to look at the cars for several hours. It is common for kids to climb in the cars for a first-hand look. Cars built in 1972 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2017 Great Race from Florida to Michigan a 1932 Ford Cabriolet won the event when it crossed the finish line in downtown Traverse City. That vehicle was driven by Jody Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., and navigated by Beth Gentry of Newnan, Ga. They won $50,000 for finishing first overall.

A 1913 Bugatti, a 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber, a 1916 Chevrolet Phaeton, a 1917 Peerless Racer and a chain-driven 1918 American LaFrance Speedster are the oldest cars scheduled to be in the 2018 Great Race. The winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse. Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada, to New York City. In expressing his enthusiasm for the June 30th event, Rick Hollis said, “When the Great Race pulls into a large or small community it becomes an instant festival. They are still in the timed-race as they drive down Prince Street.” Hollis, who has followed, the Great Race for several years said. “Last year with four overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators at each stop along the way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”

The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae and it takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of the Great Race and rode in his car from the movie, the Leslie Special.

The Great Race gained a huge following from late night showings on ESPN when the network was just starting out in the early 1980s. The first entrant, Curtis Graf of Irving, Texas, is still a participant today.

“This will be most likely a once in a lifetime event to experience” said Hollis. By being sponsor for the Truro leg of the Great Race, Hollis Ford joins some of the largest names in the automotive world. The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty, Coker Tire and Reliable Carriers.