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Great Race recap – days one and two

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Ford Model A’s from the local chapter of the Ford Model A Club of America (MAFCA) at the start of Saturday’s leg. photos by author.

Day One – Saturday, June 22

The start of the Great Race was on Mission Avenue in historic Riverside, California on Saturday, where race teams and spectators were welcomed by the local Chamber of Commerce and Ford Model As from the local MAFCA chapter. Racers were treated to a visit to the Route 66 Museum in Victorville, California and the day’s finish line was the Boulevard in Lancaster. With a late departure and a lot of ground to cover, rallying was fast and furious with 2-time Grand Champion Howard Sharp and his navigator and son Doug Sharp winning the day with a score of only 1.62 seconds off the official time. The Hemmings 1932 Ford Speedster finish the day with a score of 29.40 seconds off perfect, good for only 58th place in this year’s competitive field.

Replacing the engine in Ed Habetz’s 1928 Ford Speedster.

Probably the most interesting event of the day occurred very early in the morning when racers and support teams came together to replace an engine in Ed Habetz’s 1928 Ford Speedster. Another race team just happened to be carrying a spare rebuilt unit with then and graciously donated its use after Ed damaged a crankshaft on Friday’s trophy run. With the help of almost 2 dozen people, including X-Team support crews, and racers Brad and Dan Epple, the engine was swapped out and running again by 2:30 a.m., getting the Speedster to the starting line in time for opening ceremonies. These kinds of stories are some of the most interesting aspects of the Great Race and one of the reasons we at Hemmings Motor News support this event so enthusiastically.

The next generation of Great Race competitors tests the Hemmings Speedster.


Ed Habetz’s 1928 Ford Speedster at the start of Saturday’s leg, following it engine swap.


Howard and Doug Sharp, driving this 1916 Hudson Hill Climber, won Saturday’s leg with a time just 1.62 seconds from the official time.


Day Two – Sunday, June 23

Gary and Jean Ann Martin, in their 1964 Chevy Nova, at the finish line of stage two.

The second day of the Great Race started in Lancaster, California, before halting for a lunch stop in Bishop, California. The route passed Edwards Air Force Base and continued north along Rt. 395. The city of Bishop rolled out the red carpet for the race teams by providing a lunch in their town park. A collection of local antique and muscle cars was also on hand. After lunch, the racers continued north on Rt. 395 to the town of Lee Vining beside the salt water Mono Lake. They were then treated to a tour through Yosemite National Park before hot footing into Gardnerville, Nevada for the day’s finish line.

Jim and Louise Feeney, driving a 1936 Ford police car, took the overall lead following stage two.

The best time for Day Two went to Erin and Brad Kaplan in their 1966 Mustang with a time of 6.86 seconds off perfect time. The race also has a new team at the top of the heap, Jim and Louise Feeney, who typically drive their 1936 Ford police car to each Great Race and then drive it home when the Race is completed. This year they drove over 2,000 miles from Endicott, New York to Riverside, California and they will drive and additional 2,500 miles home after we finish in Tacoma, Washington, on Sunday.

Mountain view in Bishop, California, lunch stop for day two.


Car show in Garderville, Nevada, the overnight stop following day two.

The Hemmings Ford Speedster, piloted by publisher Jim Menneto and navigated by Stephanie Sigot, placed 38th for the day with a time of 31.08 seconds off perfect, however, they did move up in the ranks to 26th overall with a total score of 27.72 seconds after throw-outs. In the Great Race, teams are allowed to throw out several bad legs during the course of the eight-day race. Rookie and X-cup teams are allowed more throw-outs than Sportsman teams, while Expert and Grand Champion teams get fewer throw-outs than divisions with less experience. The Great Race re-entered California on Monday, with stops in Grass Valley and Chico.

Car Show in Chico, California