Let me start off by saying that this year's Great Race participant turnout was a little less than we had hoped for. Last year there were 115 entries, a competing high school contingent, and a few special guest participants; this year there were 72 entries, and seven of those joined midway in Dallas while others dropped out having only signed up for the first half ... no high school teams, no Geico lizard, no national Guard teams-it was sorely lacking in comparison to a year ago.

Don't get me wrong; everybody had a great time and the competition was fierce. it's just that there was this feeling that something appeared to be missing. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Deuce did bring some newly prepared cars to the competition and added an element of camaraderie for that category of participant. The addition of later-model cars also brought some new blood to the staging of this coast-to-coast event.

Before leaving Concord, north Carolina, the competitors and crew visited The Roush Fenway Racing shop for the full tour. Additionally, they got to drive into and around the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Things started out well for the subject of last year's report on the Great Race, Frank Currie (longtime rodder and the patriarch of Currie Rearends) and his grandson, Cody, contesting the race in a 1911 Selden (the oldest car in the event). They finished the first day in First Place with105 points and took home the newly established Daily Winners Purse of $1,500. Cody was ecstatic, but it didn't last long. They scored poorly on the second day and dropped well back in the standings.

The team of William Harper and Larry Blair in their LaSalle Flathead-powered '32 Ford roadster moved quickly into the running for the big bucks, while last year's GR winners Dave Reeder and Sawyer Stone had a rather dismal start. They had switched from their winning 1911 Hudson to a newly built Brookville '32 Ford three-window and had great "out of the elements" expectations. While they didn't fare very well in the early going, they did finish third overall in the final standings and picked up the trophy and the bucks for that lofty finish.

There were a total of 11 '32 Fords in varying configurations and all provided lots to cheer about for the 75th anniversary of the Deuce. At the end, nine of the total finished, with two going halfway and ending in Dallas. Mike Goodman in the sharp Honest Charley's Speed Shop/Coker Tire (ambidextrous) '32 Ford roadster had commitments that required him to return to Chattanooga, but i'm sure he would have liked to have gone all the way.

Prize money for winning each day was new this year and it paid back three places on each of the 14 stages. There was also a payout for the championship stages, which was the best total score for the last three stages.

Our man Frank and grandson Cody soldiered on in the '11 Selden through the elements, including golf ball-sized hail in the Albuquerque area. They managed to take home a good chunk of the daily stage payout, garnering two firsts, two seconds, and the additional first for the best score on championship days for a grand total of $10,000.

Not to be outdone, the winning team of Bob LaBine (fiveyear veteran) and his 15-year-old nephew, Charlie Wheeler (three-year veteran), took home the big money by being consistent. They also had two stage wins, three seconds, and a third- all of which were paying positions. Driving an open-wheel 1928 Ford Model A boat-tail speedster, LaBine and Wheeler braved the elements over the 4,100 mile trek across America and finished 83 points ahead of second-a total of 1,020 versus 937 for second. They picked up the $25,000 cash prize and the terrific bronze eagle trophy.

Corky Coker and his wife, Theresa, soldiered along in their Buick Shafer 8 open-wheel 1937 indy car, and Corky could be seen whooping it up for the event at each pit/lunch/finish line stop. He often got in one of his now-famous plugs for his vintage tire company. needless to say, his enthusiasm for the Great American Race spilled over to others and did not go unnoticed. Corky was awarded the Tom McRae Spirit of the event award, given to the racer or team that exhibits a competitive spirit that makes the race one of the most unique competitions in all of motor sports-and deservedly so.

The entry list this year was expanded to include hot rods, musclecars, imports built prior to '71, and hybrid vehicles. This explains how the team of Pat and Ali Schulte won the rookie class, and the $10,000 prize money, in their 1965 Porsche 356C.overcoming gearbox troubles, this rookie pair drove their little yellow coupe into the winner's circle and accepted the applause from all present. no strangers to adventure, this couple had just completed a three-and-a-half-year trip around the world in a sailboat-BRAVe.

Regardless, they will be well prepared for next year's Great Race, which will replicate the Great Race of 1908 by going around the world from new york to Paris via Vancouver, Canada; Beijing, China; and Berlin, Germany, ending at the eiffel Tower.