17 June 2015

The Great Race: Grandpa is driving force behind father/son team from Illinois

(Editor’s Note: In honor of Father’s Day, and over the course of the 2015 Great Race beginning June 20, we’re profiling nine teams, each consisting of some variation of a father and daughter, father and son, or grandfather and son. Stay tuned for these stories and results from the race.)

Jeff and Eric Fredette (Beecher, Ill.)

1933 FORD B TRUCK (#91)

Jeff Fredette’s love for cars was first fueled by his father, Wayne, and the fuel kept flowing throughout the generations to Jeff’s 24-year-old son and navigator for the Great Race, Eric Fredette. The father/son team has been participating in Great Race and VCRA rallies since 2005, and on their second year of the Great Race they received recognition as top rookie team.

Jeff and Eric both loved cars from an early age, with a special appreciation for trucks. About 20 years ago, Jeff laid eyes on a local 1934 Ford pickup and bought it — it was a “parade special.” Then, in 1999, Wayne — Jeff’s father and Eric’s grandfather —asked Jeff if he could use the truck to enter The Great Race. Jeff laughed and advised that the truck would barely even make it into town, and he was out of the country for two weeks.

When Jeff arrived home, the barn was covered with parts and he couldn’t tell where the truck ended or began. Wayne worked tirelessly, and by March he was ready to go test it at a local rally with his brother —and Jeff’s uncle — Richard Fredette. From there, Wayne and Richard entered the Great Race in 2000.

“Once the Great Race got into my dad’s blood, it was what he lived for, and it kept him going for quite a few years,” Jeff said. “He always looked forward to packing his bags and hitting the road. He was the driving force that got my son and me into it, and he was always ready to help get things ready to go. His excitement for the race has brought the family together for many years.”

The entire family got hooked on the event, and Jeff found and built another old Ford pickup so he could take his son to the race. “This is a gathering for our family year after year. The captain and team leader for 2015 is my mom, Lida Fredette, with my sisters Cindy Rivey and Kim Barksdale,” Eric said.

Keep your eyes peeled for this practiced pair in their 1933 Ford Model B pickup with the # 91 on the doors; they’ll have the American flag flying.

Tomorrow: Thomas and Benjamin Karr and their 1934 Ford Phaeton

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