Great Race participants made their way through Cherokee County on Sunday, June 27, but only a handful of local residents knew about it.
According to its website, “The Great Race is an antique, vintage and collector car rally at a controlled speed on public roads. It’s not a test of top speed. It is a test of the ability of a driver / navigator team to follow precise course directions and the ability of the car (and team) to endure an overland drive. The route instructions require the participating teams to comply with the advertised speed limits at all times or to go below them. “
The final leg of the race, which started in San Antonio, TX, was from Mooresville, NC to Greenville, SC. The course snaked through Cherokee County from McKown’s Mountain up Hwy. 11.
The first “Big Race” was held in 1983. All cars up to model year 1974 are eligible to participate. For the purposes of evaluation, the older the vehicle, the better the age factor adjustment that the team receives. Newer vehicles are allowed in regional rallies.
HOW IT WORKS
Each day, the driver and navigator team is given a series of course directions that indicate every turn, change in speed, stop, and start the team must make during the day (typically 220-250 such directions per day). There are 4 to 7 checkpoints along the route that record the exact time the team passes that point. The goal is to get to each checkpoint at the right time, not the fastest. The score for each team is the result of the team’s ability to strictly follow the set course instructions. Every second after the perfect time (early or late) at each checkpoint is a penalty point. This format is much more mentally demanding than a cross-country race at full throttle. GPS or computers are also not allowed and odometers are masked off. This is more of a test of human mental agility and endurance as well as vintage endurance rather than programming skills. The course avoids timed sections of interstate highways and instead chooses scenic local, county and state highways whenever possible through some of the most beautiful countries in the United States.
For the first time an all-female team has won the Great Race 2021! Olivia Gentry and her sister Genna put an incredible effort over nine days to take home the win and $ 50,000!