A Crosley Shines at the Great Race
I raced the Great Race Texas Regional Rally in San Marcos, Texas, from April 7-10. It lasted two-and-a-half days and almost 400 miles…all with this little car.
For the past 20 years, I dreamed of being in The Great Race but never had the time or the right car that would draw attention. I finally spotted a lonely 1949 Crosley convertible. After thinking about it for awhile, I made my decision and contacted Larry and Betty Taylor in Ohio, who went to inspect it for me and take photos. That was all I needed to buy the Crosley and ship it to Texas.
Once it got here, I thought this was going to be the time (in 2004), so I got ready to race. Alas, bad valves kept me from entering last year. I worked on it all next year and still had other problems. I got in touch with Ed Lemke, who was on his way to Texas with a new engine, so I worked out a deal with him, and the next day the Crosley was up and running. I drove about 250 miles on it and then it was race day. Thanks to many people who helped me buy parts and pieces to get me here: Dave Edwards, Yankee Crosley Parts, Gerald Church, Barry Seel, Chuck Koekler, and last but not least, my good friend and tech supporter, Neal Daglow, who kept me running.
On race day, I was ready to run with the Big Boys! I ran against V-8s, big sixes and straight-8s, and thousands of dollars of speedometer and timing toys, when all I had was a 55-year-old speedometer and a stop watch. The Little Car That Could made heads turn at every leg of the race and not only kept up, but it passed a few along the way. I smoked the clutch going up some of the hills and smoked the brakes on the way down. I got on the highway and hit speeds of 59 mph several times, and I think that’s when the exhaust manifold gasket blew.
I finished in 65th place out of 76 cars. No trophy, but I did get into The Great Race history book with the first Crosley to have entered the Great Race and pass though the winner’s finish line. Now that’s one tough little car! Who knows what’s next? The Great Race again or Le Mans? A trip to Europe to road race? Time will tell.
– Mike Bruno/driver, Gail Barth/navigator, Barry and Audrey Mann/support team