Motor Mouth Blog


The Great Race: Arrival in Florida

Reliable’s driver loads the Daytona for shipment from Santa Clarita, California to Jacksonville, Florida. We directed him to an easily accessible spot in an industrial park, near the freeway. It was pulled in behind fellow racer Peter Gray’s ’40 Chevy coupe, and Bob Marek’s VW Beetle was picked up next in El Segundo. The truck was full of west coast Great Race cars before it headed east.

By Steve Hedke, who is representing ACM with his wife Janet and their daughter Allison in The Great Race June 24 – July 2. Follow along on their adventure here

The Great Race is like a big clock. It starts ticking when you send in your application, which you need to do early because it sells out fast these days. At first time is measured in months; hotel reservations, forms, car preparation, airline reservations, booking the car transporter, a hundred logistical details that you don’t want to put off until the last moment.

Before you know it, months turn into weeks. The Reliable truck picks up the car about 2 weeks before we need leave LA for Jacksonville. All of our suitcases and supplies for the trip are packed in the car so that we don’t have to check them at the airport. Reliable has enclosed trucks and team drivers who take very good care of the cars, and they are safer than if we were towing it ourselves. The extra cost is worth the peace of mind.

We found the Daytona in the company of the other cars it came out with, and some of the sponsor decals already applied. This row consisted of a ’40 Chevy coupe, a ’55 Chevy, a ’58 Porsche Carrera coupe, our ’64 Daytona, and out of the picture to the right, a ’65 Mustang convertible and a ’54 Studebaker Commander sedan. This kind of variety makes the race a great show as well.

Weeks turn into days. Reliable notifies us by e-mail that the car has arrived, a day before we leave for the airport. Great Race officials move the car into covered and secure parking at the event hotel, and sponsor stickers begin to show up on the car. The Lyft driver picks us up at 4:30 am to get to LAX in time for our 6:30 am departure. The good thing about the early hour is the light traffic on the way, which would not be the case any later in the day.

The Hyatt welcomes the Great Racers. Many old friends were hanging out in the lobby catching up.

Now we’re running on hours. United does a good job this time: all flights are on time and we get to our hotel in Jacksonville promptly via another nice lady driving for Lyft. We find the event director and get the keys for the Daytona, which is parked very close by. We check in to the hotel, get our bags out of the car, grab a quick nap then find a place to eat nearby. It’s 10:30 now, but it feels more like 8:30; the longest day of the year is messing with our sense of hours.

Yesterday was registration and tech inspection, which is on a tight schedule and we are assigned at 3:06. That gave us plenty of time to sleep in and get a good breakfast before we needed to be out in the hot and humid weather. We’re still dealing in hours until the start, when things suddenly shift to minutes and seconds.

Allison is amused by the sight of The Great Race logo projected on the floor of the hotel. Shirts and hats will be available with this logo at the registration desk tomorrow.

In the meantime there are several social events scheduled for the next few days, plus getting out on the ‘measured mile’ to calibrate our speedometer. But for now, it’s a relief to be here on time with our car is ready to go – there are parking lot repairs going on already! This is the time we use to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. There are some very cool cars here, and there are a lot of rookies. We’ll get around and take plenty of pictures of the more interesting ones. Hope you can join us for all the fun!

Steve, Janet, and Allison Hedke
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