June 24 marked the start of the 2017 Great Race, an annual event that has continued for nearly 35 years and doesn’t seem to be decelerating.
The Great Race, founded in 1983 by Tom McRae and Norma Miller, features participants taking part in a week-long race across the country. Curtis Graf, a friend of McRae, suggested the idea of a race from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. However, the catch was that only pre-World War II vehicles could be used in the race.
McRae and Graf happily worked to begin the event and found themselves as the only two entrants. In an attempt to gather more participants, McRae contacted Miller, an old friend, to start a partnership to begin the event. Together they put the event together and marketed it as best they could. Their turnout was 69 participants with their antique vehicles starting the race at Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles.
Over time, McRae worked to always keep the race as interesting as possible by setting up different routes. These varying routes included going from Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., from Norfolk, Va., to Seattle, and even from Ottawa, Canada, to Mexico City. Over the years, the race has provided participants with a beautiful view of the scenery across the country, even if intricate routes had to be created to accommodate the speed and durability of the cars.
This year, the Great Race begin in Jacksonville, Fla. Participating vehicles must have been manufactured in 1972 or earlier, relaxing the original pre-World War II requirement, though current race rules ban any GPS devices, cellphones or even clocks. On June 26, the participants passed through Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro. The race continued through Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, finishing in Traverse City, Mich. Among this year’s 149 participants was a team from Murfreesboro racing with a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain.
More information about the Great Race can be found at greatrace.com.