The Chattanooga start of the 2011 Great Race. Photo by Tommy Lee Boyd.
The popularity of the Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty has grown tremendously in recent years, with each new running filling up quicker than the year prior. Crowds at popular stops have grown as well, and in 2017 this presented a potential logistical and space problem for the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Based upon an “overwhelming response” from potential visitors, the Sunday, June 25 Great Race stop has now been moved from the Chattanooga Riverfront to the Coker Tire headquarters, located at 1317 Chestnut Street in Chattanooga.
As Coker’s Tommy Lee Byrd explained to Hemmings, the Chattanooga Riverfront would have provided a scenic backdrop for the overnight stop, but inquiries from those wishing to meet and greet the Great Race participants soon gave rise to concerns over the Riverfront district’s ability to accommodate that many visitors at once. Instead, the overnight stop was moved to Coker’s facility, home to the annual “Chattanooga Cruise In,” which draws over 2,000 cars and 20,000 participants each spring.
The festivities will stretch from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m., with Great Race participants arriving between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. (approximately). The event is free to the public, and Coker is describing it as a “slightly downsized version of the Chattanooga Cruise In.” In addition to the 120 vehicles participating in this year’s Great Race, the show is expected to draw hundreds of classic cars.
Don Garlits, Grand Marshall of the 2017 Great Race.
The 2017 Great Race roughly follows the route of the Dixie Highway, beginning in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, June 24, and ending in Traverse City, Michigan on Sunday, July 2. Over nine days, participants (driving cars built prior to 1973) will cover 2,300 miles, with a goal of matching a predetermined pace time as closely as possible. Over $150,000 in prize money will be awarded, with the race winner earning the grand prize of $50,000. Don Garlits will serve as this year’s Grand Marshall, and “Big Daddy” will see the racers off at the starting line.
For additional details on the 2017 route, visit GreatRace.com.