(Joplin, MO) – Joplin, Missouri will host an overnight stop on the 2023 Hemmings Motor News’ Great Race, presented by Coker Tire, on Wednesday, June 28.
The Great Race, the world’s premiere old car rally, will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town for the $150,000 event, with the first car rolling onto historic Route 66/Main Street starting at 4:45 pm. The event will start in St Augustine, Florida on June 24, and finish in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 2.
The nine-day, 2,300-mile adventure will travel to 19 cities in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.
“Joplin is honored to host the overnight stop for Day 5 of this year’s event.” According to Patrick Tutte, director of Visit Joplin. Tuttle says, “The cars will begin arriving downtown after 4:30 pm on Wednesday, June 28, and will line both sides of Main Street (Route 66) in the 300 and 500 blocks. Local vintage cars will park along the 600 block.”
Tuttle added, “It is great to have CFI on board this year as a co-sponsor of the stopover. As part of the Joplin 150th Celebration, this week will also focus on transportation’s impact on Joplin history.”
The Great Race teams and cars from Japan, England, Australia, Germany, Canada, and every corner of the United States will converge in Florida in mid-June with vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1916. “There are more than 500 people just in our entourage from around the world,” Great Race Director Jeff Stumb said.
The Great Race began 40 years ago and is not a speed race but a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret checkpoints along the way and are penalized one second for each second, either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.
Cars start — and hopefully, finish — one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge, other than staying on time and following the instructions, is getting an old car to the finish line each day, organizers say.
Each stop on the Great Race is free to the public, and spectators can visit the participants and look at the cars for several hours. It is common for kids to climb in the cars for a first-hand look.
Cars built in 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2022 Great Race, a 1932 Ford won the event from Rhode Island to North Dakota. The 2023 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.
A 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber, a 1916 Chevrolet, and a 1917 American LaFrance are the oldest cars scheduled for the 2023 Great Race.
Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities, big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada to New York City.
“When the Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival,” Stumb said. “Last year, we had several overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”
The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae, and it takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real-life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of The Great Race and rode in his car from the movie The Leslie Special.
The Great Race gained a huge following from late-night showings on ESPN when the network started in the early 1980s. The first entrant, Curtis Graf of Irving, Texas, is still a participant today.
The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty Drivers Club, and Coker Tire.
Hosting the event in Joplin is made possible by co-sponsors CFI and Visit Joplin.
Patrick Tuttle, Director
Visit Joplin MO