Maybe it's because another deadline has come and gone. Maybe it's because the reality of the next one hasn't sunk in as yet. Maybe it's because there are no more football games and qualifying for NASCAR Daytona is still several days away. Or, maybe, just maybe the "weight" of my years has brought on this moment of reflection.
For starters, all of us probably already know what we want to do, will do, or wish to do this summer when it comes to our street rods. Everything from the early morning cruise to the local donut heaven to the drive into the setting sun, then sprinkle in a "big trip" or two to our favorite rod run. For me it's always fun to start the year off at Goodguys in Del Mar, followed by the L.A. Roadster Father's Day show, and in a really good year a chance to drive cross-country to the NSRA Nats in Louisville. Granted that one takes some effort especially in a topless highboy but then that's the fun--I think! This summer already is stacking up to be better than previous years most notably with the expansion of the Road Tour. The six different legs take in a number of NSRA events as well as several of the larger independent rod runs. This should prove to be great fun but how about something competitive?
All of us are competitive on some level. The indoor car show season proves that and there never seems to be a shortage of entrants for the prestigious awards at any of the outdoor rod runs. But how about some real competition where there's a winner and a loser, clear cut not something that's lost in subjectivity? Throw in some prize money? It's out there--well almost.
Unless you are a narrow band width kind of car guy you have heard of the Great Race. This year will mark its 24th year, and did you know that it's the world's richest and longest-running road rally for vintage and antique automobiles. Right away you have picked up on the operative word "vintage." No doubt street rods are a far cry from vintage automobiles but there is a change in the wind. This year there will be an exhibition class which will allow up to six street rods to compete. (There's a steep entry fee by rod run standards but then you have a shot at winning some real dollars) And wouldn't you know it one of the street rodding pioneers will be the first to give it a go--Jerry Kugel of Kugel Komponents with his Deuce roadster. As added interest Street Rodder will chronicle Jerry's exploits as well as a number of other rod oriented cars as we have placed automotive journalist Don Prieto in the "shotgun" seat with trusty pen and paper (okay, it's a laptop). Another well-known rodder is Frank Currie (Currie Enterprises) who has won the Great Race and has competed too many times to keep track. We will also follow his exploits in his 1910 Seldon. (Next year we plan on talking Frank into driving a street rod, again sharing with SRM readers.) In the past the Great Race has visited more than 800 North America cities and the participants have logged nearly 7,000,000 vehicle miles, stopping at such well known landmarks are the U.S. Capitol building and the Ellipse at the White House in Washington, D.C., the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration, the Plaza de la Reforma in Mexico City, the Grand Canyon, Indianapolis and Daytona Motor Speedways, and a Parade down Broadway in New York City. The event navigates the back roads of America and that too is an appealing aspect as entrants will see and visit some great "blue line" places.
For those of us not familiar with the rules (it's a true competition) and simply put: The Great Race is based on driving in cars (and components) that are at least 45 years old, the driver/navigator teams attempt to follow hundreds of driving instructions each day. There are checkpoints secretly located along the race route where the cars are timed. Low score wins. Event regulations limit the teams to a speedometer, time-of-day clock, stopwatch, pencil, and paper.
This year the "finish line" has a decided street rod flavor as it will take place on Fourth Street in downtown San Rafael, the location where George Lucas filmed "American Graffiti" in 1973. The San Rafael City Council has already passed a resolution supporting the event and there's incredible support from other local agencies such as The Marin County Visitors Bureau, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, Redevelopment Agency and Business Improvement District, along with Infinion Raceway and Lucasfilms. According to the Great Race officials this may very well be the best finish in the 24 year history of the event.
Should you have an interest in being one of the six street rods entered in the exhibition class you can call (800-989-RACE) or visit their Web site (ww.greatrace.com) and get in on the fun? Should you plan on doing this drop me a line as other SRM readers who be thoroughly interested in your story as well. SRM