The Great Race, Stage 1: Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie

Yesterday was the first official day for The Great Race and I need to call out two things that were simply amazing: the huge turnout for the Grand Start in Traverse City, Mich., and the perfect weather.

Thousands of people showed up first thing on a Saturday morning to see all the cars and meet the race teams. And to add to the excitement, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Wayne Carini (host of Chasing Classic Cars) were there as well. Unlike many types of classic car events where people are expected to stand far away from the cars, The Great Race gives people a chance to get close to the cars and in many cases sit in them as well. And my favorite part is the fact that you get to hear them run and see them drive. 

The Hagerty teams are two “Boys vs. Girls” duos, and things have very quickly developed into a friendly—but fierce—rivalry as to who will end each day with a higher ranking. From what I hear, many people are rooting for the women’s team. After the first day the boys’ team finished 15 spaces ahead of the girls’ team, so we won the bragging rights for the day. But I say this in good fun knowing darn well a lot can happen over the next eight days. The boys’ team is me as the driver in a 1930 Model A Tudor Sedan (The Mighty Model A) and Hagerty Parts Specialist Davin Reckow as the navigator. The girls’ team is driving a 1962 International Travelette ¾-ton pickup piloted by Tabetha Salsbury and Kacy Smith. So far both vehicles are running great and seem to be enjoying this endurance challenge. 

For scores from the 2012 Great Race, click here.

The route leaving from Traverse City took us through many winding roads up to St. Ignace for a lunch stop and then to an overnight stop in Sault Saint Marie, Mich. The sight of all these cars crossing the five-mile Mackinac (that’s pronounced Mack-i-NAW) Bridge was pretty amazing, and for anyone who hasn’t traveled through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before I can tell you there are plenty of great back roads perfect for this type of road rally.

As the week goes on I will slowly explain how a “time-speed-distance” rally works. Even though it is called a “race,” it doesn’t mean the first person to finish is the winner. You are trying to match a perfect time based on a very detailed series of directions and speeds. If it sounds confusing, I promise you it is. And as rookies, we are still trying to figure all of this out! For example, Davin and I finished today with a score of 17.6, meaning we were 17 seconds off of the perfect time. (By the way, we have no idea what that perfect time is.) That sounds pretty good, right? To put this in perspective, this just barely put us in the top half of the finishing order with the best team receiving a score of 2, meaning they were only two seconds off of the perfect time after an entire day or road rallying! Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled with our score as our first official day as a rookie team.


Read next Up next: The Great Race, Stage 2: Crossing the border

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