The Great Race Stops in Ohio!

The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will stop at two Ohio towns as it crosses more than a dozen states. It will feature 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles.

Lancaster, Ohio, will host a lunch stop on Sunday, June 23, with the first car rolling onto South Broad Street starting around 12:30 pm. Marietta, Ohio, will host an overnight stay that night, with cars arriving around 4pm. The event will begin in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 22 and finish in Gardiner, Maine, on June 30.

The 9-day, 2,300-mile adventure will travel to 19 cities in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.

Teams and cars from Japan, England, Australia, Germany, Canada, and every corner of the United States will converge at the start, with vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1912. “There are more than 500 people just in our entourage from all around the world,” race director Jeff Stumb said.

The Great Race began 41 years ago and is not a speed race but a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret checkpoints along the way and are penalized one second for each second, either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.

If all goes according to plan, cars will start—and hopefully finish—one minute apart. Organizers say the most significant part of the challenge, other than staying on time and following instructions, is getting an old car to the finish line each day. Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public, and spectators can visit with the participants and look at the cars for several hours.

Cars built in 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. A 1916 Hudson Hillclimber won last year’s Great Race from St. Augustine, Florida, to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 2024 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $160,000 total purse.

The oldest cars scheduled to compete in the 2024 Great Race are a 1912 Haynes, a 1913 Chevrolet, and a 1916 Hudson.

Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities, big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada, to New York City.

“When the Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival,” Stumb said. “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.”

The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae. It takes its name from the 1965 movie The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real-life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of The Great Race and rode in his car from the movie Leslie Special.

The Great Race gained a considerable following from late-night showings on ESPN when the network was just starting out in the early 1980s. The first entrant, Curtis Graf of Irving, Texas, is still a participant today.

The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Coker Tire, McCollister’s Auto Transport, Rogo Fasteners, Southern Star Distillery, Sam Smith Old Brewery, and Hagerty Driver’s Club.

Learn more about The Great Race at https://www.greatrace.com/.

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