What do you get when put classic cars and Route 66 together? The Great Race. This is a 2,300 mile journey starting in Kirkwood, Missouri and ending in Santa Monica, CA. It is a timed speed endurance rally that will go for nine days with a total number of 118 teams. This race has been going on for 30 years with this year being a little more special than the past because there are eight teams from Japan competing with right-hand drive sports cars. There are five categories for competitors starting with Grand Championship, Expert, Sportsman, X-Cup and ending with Rookie. This gives anybody a chance to compete but the only requirement is that your car must be manufactured in 1972 or earlier.
The drivers will visit 18 cities including the beginning and end cities. They have lunch and overnight stops for the drivers to rest and the spectators to come enjoy the classic car history. I had the pleasure of enjoying this history in an overnight stop in Oklahoma City, OK. It was all setup in downtown Oklahoma City, also known as Bricktown, right on Mickey Mantle Drive across from the baseball stadium. The time they were scheduled to be there was 4:30pm and the street was already starting to fill up around 3:45pm with fans claiming their spot. Once the cars started to arrive you could just sense the excitement in the air from all the spectators.
There were three cars that had people’s attention and that was Team Japan’s two, yes two, 1972 Nissan Skyline GTR’s and a 1937 Atlantis Convertible. Once the first Skyline came onto the road all the guys came over and it seemed their mouths were going to stay permanently open. The Atlantis Convertible looked like something out of an old Batman movie. A mysterious car with so much history behind it.
Besides the swanky classic cars there were four trucks that were also restored to their natural beauty. A 1933 & 1941 Ford Pickup, a 1948 Chevy Pickup and a 1953 Dodge Power Wagon. The 1933 Ford Pickup was bright yellow with wood railings on its bed. It was picture perfect and looked like a step back in time. The 1953 Dodge Power Wagon was a bright blue tow truck that was driven by two guys and navigated by two guys, all from New York. This truck is part of the X-Cup division. The X-Cup division is for young people mostly from a shop class that builds a vehicle specifically for the event. This class competes mainly for bragging rights and to also try to encourage the younger generation to be a part of the old car community.
Of course you can’t have a race without some speedsters. One that caught my eye was the 1936 BeerSter Speedster. It was dripping in chrome and silver paint with the engine out in the open. The exhaust was a long chrome pipe that went along the body of the speedster out the back. All I could think of when I saw this was two kids driving it with goggles on trying to outrun the bad guys.
Overall this race is a great bucket list item to cross off. It brings together a wide variety of vehicles and a wider variety of spectators.