2015 Great Race to Travel Route 66

Claremore will host a stop for one of the country’s most amazing automobile spectacles.

By: Lisa Rogers | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2015

Dad’s Day Out at the Claremore Expo Center, featuring the Great Race Vintage Car Rally.

Dad’s Day Out at the Claremore Expo Center, featuring the Great Race Vintage Car Rally.

Claremore will host a lunch stop on the 2015 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Sunday, June 21, race organizers have announced. The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to the Claremore Expo Center for the $150,000 event.  The race will start June 20 in Kirkwood, Mo., and finish June 28 at the Santa Monica Pier in California traveling along historic Route 66.

Along the 2,400-mile route, competitors will travel parts of The Mother Road in all eight states it originally ran through – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.     The Great Race, which began 32 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.

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, organizers say. The cars will arrive in Claremore starting at 12:30 p.m. at one-minute intervals for two hours. 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. Visit Claremore is hosting a variety of family friendly events to help celebrate Father’s Day starting at 11am  until 4pm.
Cars built in 1972 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2014 Great Race from Maine to Florida, a 1915 Hudson racer, a 1916 Hudson Hillclimber and a 1917 Peerless were the three oldest vehicles. All of those vehicles are participating again in 2015. Last year’s winners, Barry and Irene Jason of Keller, Texas, drove a 1966 Mustang and won $50,000. It was the first time a post-war automobile won the Great Race. The 2015 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.

“When the Great Race pulls into a city it becomes an instant festival,” race director Jeff Stumb said. “Last year we had three overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”  Lunch stops, in order, are Rolla, Mo.; Claremore, Okla.; Elk City, Okla.; Tucumcari, N.M.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Winslow, Ariz.; Kingman, Ariz.; and Twentynine Palms, Calif. 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.

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