Photos courtesy Tommy Lee and Coker Tire
For anyone interested in speed, time, distance rally racing but aren’t quite ready for the annual 10-day, 2,000-plus-mile Great Race, we suggest starting in one of the smaller regional rallies offered throughout the year. One such event is the Coker Tire Challenge, taking place a few days from now from September 19th-22nd. It’s a 3-day mini version of the Great Race, with similar rules and team directions, however, race teams start and finish each day back at Coker Tire world headquarters in Chattanooga on each of the three nights of the event. The Coker Tire Challenge runs through the beautiful Southeast Tennessee countryside with a few visits into northern Georgia and Alabama along the way. Scoring is identical to Great Race rules, with older cars receiving an adjustment factor to their scores based on the age of the vehicle (the older it is, the bigger the adjustment). For those unfamiliar with the format, two-person teams attempt to complete a route as close to a target time as possible, with no electronic aids to calculate speed and acceleration times. As always in this type of racing, the team with the closest score to perfect time wins.
One place the Coker Tire Challenge differs from the Great Race is that is that it allows newer cars to enter, so you can even enter a daily driver if you so desire. The 2018 Coker Challenge was won by this year’s eventual winner of the Great Race, Howard and Doug Sharp in their 1916 Hudson.
Regional rallies such as the Coker Tire Challenge, VRCA All Stars for Autism Race in Springfield, MO, the Pumpkin Run in Millsboro, DE, and the Penn York Rally in Beach Lake, PA are excellent events for new racers to get acclimated to the racing and the people involved in this type of racing, without spending a lot of money and time the Great Race requires. These regional rallies are much cheaper, are usually only a long weekend long, and give you an accurate feel of what the longer Great Race would entail, and unlike the Great Race, there is no waiting list. Rules and registration forms for this event are available at the Coker Tire Challenge website.
Even if you don’t not have a vehicle to enter into this event, the Coker Tire in Chattanooga is worth checking out for the car spotting. There will be many things to do around the venue while you wait for the race cars to go out and return each day. I recommend the duck boat rides.