The Great Race Coming to Ypsilanti for First Time

By Bryan K. Alfaro | THE EASTERN ECHO
Added June 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

One of The Great Race classic vehicles on East Cross Street in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. (Bryan K. Alfaro / The Eastern Echo / July 1, 2012)

The Great Race is coming to Ypsilanti, Mich. for the first time in its 30-year history July 1, and is expected to bring up to 100 antique automobiles to Depot Town as part of a lunch stop.

The nine-day international event, which starts in Traverse City, Mich. and circles the Great Lakes through Canada before coming through Ypsilanti and then finishing at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., is free to the public and will last for several hours beginning around noon.

The Great Race is not a speed race, but a time, speed and distance rally. The driver and their navigator are given instructions each day detailing every move down to the second. The teams are scored at secret checkpoints along the way and are penalized for every second they are early or late.

The first car is expected to arrive around 12:15 p.m. with another car arriving each minute for the following hour and a half. The cars will remain parked along East Cross Street to allow spectators to visit with the participants and to look at the cars.

Cars will range in age from 1911 to 1969, with most having been manufactured before World War II. Last year’s winner Howard Sharp of Fairport, N.Y. took home a check for $20,000 and the bronze American eagle trophy.

“The only way to get that bird is to win the race,” said Sharp, who participated with his son Doug. “It was so thrilling to do it with my son and finally win,” he said.

“When the Great Race pulls into a city it becomes an instant festival,” race director Jeff Stumb said. “We have seen as many as 40,000 people at stops.”

The Great Race was started in 1983 by Tom McRae and takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race starring 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.

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Eastern Echo article archive: The Great Race Coming to Ypsilanti for First Time

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