The Great Race: Love of classics transcends generations

(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.)

David Reeder (Fort Smith, Ark.) and Sawyer Stone (Hot Springs, Ark.)


David Reeder and grandson Sawyer Stone have been competing together in the Great Race and other VCRA rallies since 2003, when Sawyer was only nine. In fact, Sawyer was the youngest Great Race competitor in the history of the event.

Needless to say, classic cars and the Great Race are a big deal in the Reeder-Stone family.

“The race has been a whole family event for as long as I can remember,” said Stone, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday in Gallup, N.M., this week. “My granddad competed in the race before I was born, and our family’s summer vacation was to follow the race for some of the route, go to the overnight stops and see the cars come in. Growing up around cars, working on them, getting them ready for competition and spending weeks driving across the nation has fostered a great interest in cars.

“And every year, my birthday falls during the race. So since I was little, I’ve always celebrated in a different city, wherever the race happens to be. Then when I started navigating for my granddad, it became a celebration involving everybody in the race.”

Like his grandson, Reeder, 78, has been around cars most of his life.

“My first job was in a service station, and the first business I owned was an automobile service station and garage,” he said. “I was an automobile dealer for 35-40 years. Always being around them and working on them, they’re part of my life.”

Reeder competed in his first Great Race in 1988. This year’s Missouri-to-California course along Route 66 will be his 25th. The Arkansas natives have raced a 1933 Ford Roadster, a 1916 Hudson 4-Passenger Speedster, a 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe and a 1932 Ford Victoria. The two were Grand Champions of the 2006 race from Philadelphia to San Rafael, Calif., in the 1916 Hudson.

“We’ve traveled through 40 states, seen numerous landmarks and historical cities, and we’ve driven around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway and numerous other racetracks,” Stone said. “Along the way you meet people from all walks of life and make lifelong friends with the fellow racers.

“Spending two weeks shoulder to shoulder in an old car, driving the back roads of America is the best way I know to spend time with family, in addition to time spent building and prepping the car, practicing and preparing for the race. I’ve learned so much about cars and I’ve spent a lot of time with the entire family. We enjoy the competition and getting the most out of the car and ourselves.”

The family support team includes Reeder’s wife, Sue; Stone’s parents (Reeder’s daughter) Susan and James, and his sister, Jamie.

Sawyer Stone said he is looking forward to the Route 66 course. “We’ve traveled on parts of it through the years, but we’ve never had a route centered on it since I’ve been competing. Every year is a new adventure and new territory.”

The two will compete in the 1932 Ford Victoria this year, but next year will race the 1916 Hudson again. “The car will be 100 years old, and my granddad will be 80,” Stone said. “Although he plans on retiring from Great Race competition after next year, I imagine the Great Race and old cars will always be a big part of our family.”

Tomorrow: Mike and Oli Hallows and their 1954 Chevrolet.

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