After nine days, seven states, and 2,600 miles along the old Dixie Highway, the Great Race finished on July 2 in front of a huge National Cherry Festival crowd in Traverse City, Mich., with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flying overhead. It doesn’t get much better than that. Unless you’re Jody Knowles and Beth Gentry.
With Knowles behind the wheel of his grandfather Joe’s 1932 Ford Cabriolet and his Aunt Beth serving as navigator—in her dad’s car—the two won their first Grand Championship and $50,000 by finishing 44.55 seconds off a perfect time. Keeping it in the family, Gentry’s daughters Olivia and Genna drove another of Joe’s cars, a 1963 Dodge Dart, to a 24th-place finish (2:33.44 off a target) to capture Top Rookie honors.
Jeff and Eric Fredette finished second overall in a 1933 Ford truck (57.05), while Howard and Doug Sharp, in a 1916 Hudson, placed third (1:00.72).
Hagerty’s Jonathan Klinger and Davin Reckow finished in 12th place, 1:37.15 off a perfect score, in a 1917 Peerless Speedster known as the Green Dragon. Hagerty’s rookie team of Shelbie Buchanan and Ashleigh Powell, in a 1960 Plymouth Fury, were 87th (1:13.15).
The Great Race, sponsored by Hemmings Motor News and presented by Hagerty, is a controlled-speed endurance rally open to 1972 and earlier cars. It began June 24 in Jacksonville, Fla. Of the 120 cars that started the race, 107 finished.