By Don Lowe
Later this month, area residents and visitors from surrounding communities will have a great opportunity to cheer on The Great Race when this event makes an overnight stop in Joplin, Missouri, as part of its nine-day, 2,300-mile adventure that treks through nine states from Florida to Colorado.
Patrick Tuttle, with Visit Joplin, says, “This is a multi-day endurance event. The race is more about time and accuracy on following navigation the teams received just that morning.
“They know where they’re headed but do not know their route until just before they hit the road. Check points along the way determine their scoring. There’s no GPS or any electronic assistance. It’s just the driver and a navigator.”
When the race makes its official way to Joplin, Tuttle says, “Day five scoring ends just after Diamond, Missouri. Then they come down 7th Street and turn on Main Street. They will park in the 300 to 500 blocks of Main Street (Route 66). Local vintage cars will be in the 600 block.”
A news release for this friendly competition, which began 40 years ago in 1983, indicates The Great Race is the world’s premiere old car rally, and it will bring 120 of the world’s finest automobiles to town for this $150,000 event.
The Great Race teams and cars, which are coming from Japan, England, Australia, Germany and Canada, and every corner of the United States, will all converge in Florida in mid-June with vintage automobiles dating as far back as 1916.
“When The Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival,” The Great Race Director Jeff Stumbs says. “Last year, we had several overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see The Great Race during the event.”
Tuttle believes this is a big deal for all those throughout the Four-State Region and he says, “The fact that Joplin is a part of an event with international contestants is exciting.
“In 2021, still coming out of the pandemic, the Canada teams could not participate. In 2023, not only will Canada make a comeback, but a team from Japan will be included, as well.”
Amongst the featured cars will be a 1916 Hudson Hill Climber, 1928 Ford Model A, 1917 American LaFrance Racer and 1973 Cadillac Ambulance. There’s also a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, 1957 Chevy Bel Air, 1966 Mustang and Corvette, 1963 Ford Falcon and 1971 AMC Javelin.
Tuttle is proud to be a part of it all and says, “Once Main Street is full, with all the vintage cars, it is amazing to watch the crowd of all ages and how they interact with such a huge event. The Great Race is a crowd pleaser.”
The Great Race Fast Facts
What: The Great Race Day 5 Overnight Stop
When: Wednesday, June 28, at 4:45 p.m.
Where: Joplin, Missouri’s Main Street
Co-Sponsors in Joplin: Contract Freighters, Inc. and Visit Joplin (Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Start & Finish: The Great Race begins in St. Augustine, Florida, Saturday, June 24, and concludes in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sunday, July 2.
The Route: This race treks through 19 states from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee through Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado.
Close Main Street (4th Street to 7th Street), 10 a.m.
Scoring crew arrives (set up inside Convention & Visitors Bureau), 1 p.m.
Finish line set-up begins, 1:45 p.m.
Food trucks arrive (Smack Dab and Snowflake’s Shaved Ice), 2:30 p.m.
Parc Ferme’, finish line secured for cars and open to the public, 3:30 p.m.
Local car show (all vehicles in place), 4:30 p.m.
Advertised time for the public to begin arriving, 4:30-8 p.m.
Arrival ceremony (Color Guard, National Anthem, local welcome and opening statements), 4:45 p.m.
First Great Race finishers begin arriving, 5 p.m.
Catered dinner for Great Race finishers (Hackett Hot Wings & Sports Room – not open to the public), 5-7:30 p.m.
Last Great Race finishers arrive, 7 p.m.
Great Race and local car show vehicles begin departing, 7:30 p.m.
Parc Ferme’ closed (all cars have departed from Main Street), 8 p.m.
Finish line tear-down complete, 8:45 p.m.
Main Street reopened, 9:15 p.m.