By Joy Neighbors
On this beautifully sunny afternoon, 120 drivers of classic vehicles, built in 1972 or earlier, cruised through French Lick and over to West Baden in Hemming’s Motor News Great Race. This is the premier old car rally in the world and this year drivers traveled the historic Dixie Highway, which stretches from Florida to Michigan. Drivers will be visiting all the landmarks on their way north – hence the cruise through the resort. The Dixie Highway wends through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan and there are official stops along the way.
Car enthusiasts love to see this race and tens of thousands of spectators line the route to wave and cheer. And the cars are truly phenomenal. This year, you’ll see everything from a 1917 Peerless Speedster to a 1931 Auburn Bobtail Speedster, 1941 Packard 120 Coupe, 1957 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, 1963 Jaguar E Type, 1968 Ford Torino and 1972 Chevy Corvette. The oldest car in the race is a 1909 American Simplex and there are several 1972 models – the latest model vehicles allowed.
But The Great Race really isn’t a speed race; instead, it’s a time, speed, and endurance rally. Drivers must follow the exact instructions they are given each morning, which tells them at exactly what time they should arrive at a destination. If they arrive either too early or too late, they are penalized.
The 2017 race began June 24 in Jacksonville, Florida and concludes July 2 in Traverse City, Michigan. Once the last car passed under the West Baden arches, the race was officially off to its next stop, Franklin, Indiana. To learn more, visit the Great Race.
A few more Great Race Cars