The Great Race: X-Cup team focuses on youth and skill

One of the most popular road rallies for classic car enthusiasts will include four teams not necessarily in it to win it, but who hope to gain valuable experience and make new connections in the classic car world.

The Great Race, which pits two-person teams against the clock and against each other, begins on June 23 in Traverse City, Mich., and heads north around the Great Lakes – through 19 cities, two countries and four states – before finishing July 1 in Dearborn, Mich.

The X-Cup Division is designed for high school/college/youth group teams. X-Cup drivers must be either at least 21 years of age and less than 25 as of Stage 1, or be an adult member of the team who is eligible for Sportsman Division (non-Grand Champion or Expert Divisions). X-Cup navigators must be younger than 22 as of Stage 1.

Here’s the first of four profiles of this year’s X-Cup teams:

Ethan Corey and Nick Jones

1966 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant “Squareback”

Team name: Youth and Skill

Car’s history: This is a completely original survivor car – “Right down to the bushings,” Corey said – with 42,000 miles on the odometer. “It was my great grandparents’ car at their summer house in Maine. The name on the doors, ‘Juniper Hill,’ was the name of their estate. When my grandfather moved, he no longer had room to keep it, so he gifted it to me. At the time I was 14, and my father and I flew down to Virginia and drove it back to New York. Its broken starter made for many downhill starts (and some strong new friends), but it joined the family’s stable of old cars. I learned how to drive a manual shift on this car.”

Ethan Corey’s father, John Corey, competed in the Great Race twice and has entered his 1961 Imperial Crown Convertible in this year’s event. John Corey’s team is called “Old Age and Treachery,” the alternative to Ethan Corey’s “Youth and Skill.”

Team: Corey and Jones met at Hudson Valley Community College while studying in the Mechanical Engineering program. They are now “friends in the German car (AKA ‘always broken’) lifestyle.”

“Choosing Nick as my navigator was an easy decision,” Ethan Corey said. “Of all of my auto-inclined friends, he is the only one who could possibly stomach me for two straight weeks. He also has considerable mathematical skills, is fun to be around and doesn’t have a shy bone in his body.”

Ethan Corey, 21; Melrose, N.Y.

Education: WPI, one year of Electrical Engineering; HVCC, 2012, Mechanical Engineering Technology Certificate.

How did you become interested in classic cars? My initial interest came from my father. But even after he began to move into classics, I still had yet to catch the bug, preferring my computers to cars. Then I got a car of my own. Now we both enjoy a hearty helping of eclectic old cars, from our daily commuters to our autocross and classic cars.

Do you own a classic? This VW is mine. I regularly take it to shows and have been performing most of the maintenance. I also own and maintain a 1983 Porsche 944, my “race” car.

Road rally experience: I’ve (mostly) completed 3 TSD rallies. One was many years ago with my father as the driver, and more recently I competed in a winter rally in my Subaru with him as the navigator. This past winter I took part in a night-time winter challenge rally with my current co-driver. We ended at the halfway mark after getting stuck in snow.

Future plans / career goals: I plan to transfer to Clarkson University and go for a B.A. in mechanical engineering. After graduation, I’d love to work for a someone like Ford Motorsport. I’ve also made myself a promise to obtain an SCCA Pro license and compete in Improved Touring with my 944.

What do you hope to accomplish in this event? Mostly, have a good time. I’m also trying to experience all I can in the vehicular arena, to find what I want to focus on in the future. And it would be a great milestone for an all-original survivor car to complete such a huge event.

Nick Jones, 16; Halfmoon, N.Y.

Education: Home schooled; recently completed his junior year of high school.

How did you become interested in classic cars? When I was baptized, our priest made a joke about how the godfather has to provide the child their first car. My godfather and parents thought this was a genius idea and hatched a plan: when I turned 14 I would be given a car to fix up before I turned 16. The theory was, if I spent a lot of time and effort fixing the car, I would care about it and be careful to not crash it. When I was 12 or 13 I started thinking about what car I wanted. That’s what started my general interest in cars: How they work, makes, models, history, etc. My father told me stories of the Fiat 124s that he owned in college, and that’s specifically where my interest in classic cars comes from.

Do you own a classic of your own? Not yet, unfortunately. The two cars I’ve owned have both been 1980s Audis, which don’t quite qualify as classic yet. Riding around in Ethan’s VW Type III does make me hunger to own a carbureted car (thanks to that wonderful sound), and I plan to sell my current car to buy some sort of convertible, possibly a Fiat Spyder.

Road rally experience: Mainly, I’ve just heard stories from dad and his friends who competed in a lot of SCCA road rallies back in the ’80s and early ’90s, although Ethan and I did have a fantastic adventure on the 2012 Winter Challenge Rally, organized by Ted Goddard. It was designed for much more experienced rallyists, so we spent a lot of time lost, but we also had a lot of fun.

Future plans / career goals: I want to become a mechanical engineer; my main focus, career wise, would be efficient ground transportation.

What do you hope to accomplish in this event? First and foremost, I’d like to stay on course and finish (in one complete still-alive piece). I also hope to have fun and meet some interesting car folks.

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