Motor Mouth Blog


Great Race Day 2

The desert can provide some stunning geologic sights; this was near Red Rock Canyon in California.

By Steve Hedke, who is representing LeMay – America’s Car Museum with his wife Janet and their daughter Allison in the Great Race

A person could live in California their whole lives and never have a reason to go north from Lancaster on Highway 14 (Old Route 6) and all the way up through the Owens Valley, but that’s what we did today. The contrast could not have been sharper.

From the land of test pilots and “The Right Stuff”, we climbed out towards Bishop, Lone Pine, and Mammoth Lakes, gaining altitude and transitioning from desert to piney forests. (I am happy to report that the ecologically vital Mono Lake is once again filled to capacity after our long drought). It was cloudless blue skies, cool temperatures, unlimited visibility, and plenty of snow on the Sierras and majestic Mount Whitney.

Checkpoint! These crews are out here for hours clocking the cars as they pass by a precise predetermined point for them, but is a surprise for us. That’s why you have to be on time, all the time. They will yell out “MARK” when you hit the point, which ends that leg and immediately begins the next. The driver holds the speed, and the navigator writes down the time we cross the point, just as a backup. In reality you don’t do anything when encountering a checkpoint.

There are days on the Great Race when the goal is to cover lots of miles, and we had extensive running at 50 mph, the top speed that the Great Race will use in deference to the antique cars. Our best performance today was :02 late over 1.33:00 of rallying! Having your electronic speedometer accurately adjusted is critical, and everyone had to readjust theirs from yesterday. There were not a lot of ‘maneuvers’ because of the lack of alternative roads along this route.

We had 4 really good legs today, and one where we ran slow, despite the fact that we executed everything by the book. It might have been that we under compensated for slower acceleration times at altitude. Certainly the conditions were unique, and we always try to learn from our shortcomings should we run in to this again.

Currently the LeMay – America’s Car Museum entry is running around 21st overall and 4th in Expert, and while that’s not bad considering a field of over 110 cars, we expect to move up in the rankings as the race progresses.

Our 1964 Studebaker Daytona is always a big hit, and we had nice size crowds at our lunch stop in Bishop (excellent tri-tip!) and our overnight here in Gardnerville, Nevada. Both cities did a fine job of hosting our traveling circus. We did lose a few more cars due to attrition, and there are some undergoing repairs in the hotel parking lot tonight as I write this.

Quite the view as we waited for our start time after lunch in Bishop.

Stick with us: it’s an endurance event, and positions will change over the next several days. Two days with 8 excellent leg stores is very encouraging, now we just need to have to have a good day. Maybe tomorrow…

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